When I first got involved in the LGBT community was in middle school, when my older sister came out as bisexual and started dating her then-girlfriend.
Since then, I’ve met a lot of different people in the LGBT community, even more so since I started working on Validation, a webcomic about a trans girl.
And I can say, without a doubt, that the LGBT community’s feelings on Allies are…mixed.
Some say it’s good that there are advocates for their cause that are not, themselves, part of the LGBT alphabet. There are others that say Allies are unnecessary. And a violent subset think all Allies need to fuck off and their heads should be mounted on pikes.
From what I’ve listened to and heard from the community, there’s a few reasons why people have mixed feelings about Allies.
1. The Atheists are doing it just to piss off the religious right.
This actually happens a lot. Atheists will claim to fly the banner of Ally of the LGBT community, only to turn around and use derogatory language when talking about the people they reportedly support. The only reason they claim to be Allies is to piss off their religious cohorts who are against the community, without actually supporting them.
2. Some Allies try to police your identity.
This can range from “ah, asexuality is just a phase” to “dude, you’re not really gay unless you puke rainbows” or “you’re not a real lesbian unless you scissor.”
First off, no.
You as a human being are not allowed to tell someone what to do with their bodies and identities.
Second off, people, especially Allies, do not have permission to say what constitutes a “real” lesbian/gay/transgender/etc person.
They may be labels, but the people who choose those labels decide what those labels mean for themselves.
3. Some Allies are biased.
Let’s say there’s someone who claims to be an Ally and supports gay and lesbian rights, but they completely misgender trans people. (Misgendering means you use the wrong pronouns, like calling a trans man a woman just because of the body he has.)
There may be a few reasons for this. Either they are rigid in their definitions of gender/identities and cannot be helped, or they just haven’t been (gently) educated and taught the error of their ways.
The first group cannot be helped, and should not be called Allies.
The second group just needs a little more exposure in the world. Given time they can come around. They’re not too much of a problem.
4. Allies talk over the community.
Rather than letting a lesbian talk about their experience, this type of Ally will tell the lesbian what their experience is supposed to be like. “No no, REAL lesbians…”
This is roughly equivalent to mansplaining. Mansplaining is when a man says “No no, the REAL issues women face are…”
You see how much of a dick move that is?
Mansplaining and gaysplaining (as I shall call it) is just another way to tell that person that their identity/sexuality is wrong because it doesn’t fit rigid preconceptions.
Again, people define their identities for themselves. You, as an Ally, are supposed to LISTEN to them, not try to change their narrative so it makes more sense to you.
5. Allies are abusive.
Some Allies fly the Ally banner to get closer to a specific person or type of person and use them for something (sex, money, getting them in your amateur porn film, etc). They see members of the LGBT community as props, or tools, and not people.
6. Allies do it for the resume building, not because it’s sincere.
There’s a difference between aiding the LGBT community for yourself, to look like a spiffy, worldly employee and get a raise because of how cool you are, and aiding the LGBT community because the community needs help.
Being an Ally requires a lot of introspection and listening. Introspection, in knowing why you want to get involved in the LGBT community, whether for yourself or for others. Listening, in not talking over others or trying to police how they should and should not live.
If I missed something (I’m sure I missed a lot), please leave a comment below.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow.