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ALLIES/ADVOCATES
 

Wikipedia: What is a Straight Ally?

Huff Post: HRC's Ally Annual Awards

Straight But Not Narrow

How to be a Better Ally at Pride Events

HRC: How to be an LGBTQ Ally


LGBTQ Allies

An LGBTQ ally is a heterosexual or cisgender (straight person) who believes in, supports, and advocates for LGBTQ rights. In relation to issues of oppression, an ally is defined as a person who is a member of the "dominant" or "majority" group who challenges inequality and prejudice and works to end oppression in his or her personal and professional life through support of, and as an advocate with and for, the oppressed population. An LGBTQ ally is a person, often straight, who is accepting and supportive of the LGBTQ community.

 



You have the opportunity to be an ally and a friend at home, school, church, work, and in your community. A straight ally can merely be someone who is supportive and accepts the LGBTQ person, or a straight ally can be someone who personally advocates for equal rights and fair treatment.

Allies are some of the most effective and powerful voices of the LGBTQ movement. Not only do allies help people in the coming-out process, they also help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, tolerance and mutual respect. They raise awareness and build bridges by actively, publicly, and courageously practicing acceptance of and support for LGBTQ people and speaking out in their behalf.
 

Why Pride: Explanation for Straight People

Straight for Equality

Straight Allies at Pride Events

Wikipedia: What is a Straight Ally?

Huff Post: HRC's Ally Annual Awards

Straight But Not Narrow

 

Being An LGBTQ Ally or Advocate

There are stages to becoming an effective LGBTQ ally or advocate.  Some people go through a process of first becoming more aware and informed of LGBTQ issues and concerns and then discovering and more fully recognizing the needs of LGBTQ people.  At first they might be hesitant to respond and get involved, but then they gradually become more sensitive to the oppression that exists for LGBTQ people.  They eventually get to the point where they are more intentional and assertive in their involvement.

 

Interfering/Opposing  -  This stage describes individuals who are not yet allies.  It includes direct and deliberate actions and activities that are oppressive to LGBTQ people. These actions include laughing at or telling jokes that put down LGBTQ people, making fun of LGBTQ people, and engaging in verbal or physical harassment of LGBTQ people and those who do not conform to traditional sex-role behavior. It also includes opposing pro-LGBTQ activities, programs, and legislation and supporting anti-LGBTQ activities, programs, and legislation.

 

Denying/Ignoring  -  This stage includes inaction that perpetuates LGBTQ oppression coupled with an unwillingness or inability to understand the effects of homophobic and heterosexist actions. At this point the individual is still not an actual ally. This stage is characterized by a “business as usual” attitude. Though responses in this stage are not actively and directly homophobic or heterosexist, the passive acceptance of these actions by others serves to support a system of oppression.

Recognizing/Hesitating  -  This stage is characterized by a recognition of homophobic or heterosexist actions and the harmful effects of these actions. However, this recognition does not result in any effort to address the homophobic or heterosexist situation. At this point, the individual has still not made a decision to be an active ally. Taking action is prevented by homophobia, insensitivity, or a lack of knowledge about specific actions to take. This stage of response is accompanied by discomfort due to the lack of congruence between recognizing homophobia or heterosexism yet failing to act on this recognition. An example of this stage of response is a person hearing a friend tell a homophobic joke, recognizing that is homophobic, not laughing at the joke, but saying nothing to the friend about the joke.

Recognizing/Asserting  -  This stage includes not only recognizing homophobic and heterosexist actions, but also taking action to stop them. At this point, an individual begins to behave as an ally. Though the response goes no further than stopping, this stage is often an important transition from passively accepting homophobic or heterosexist actions to actively choosing to address homophobic and heterosexist actions. In this stage a person hearing a homophobic joke would confront the joke teller. In this stage a person might realize that he or she is avoiding an activity for fear that others might think he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.

 

Education/Awareness  -   This stage includes taking action to learn more about LGBTQ people, LGBTQ issues and concerns, and heterosexism and homophobia. These actions can include reading books attending workshops, talking to others, joining organizations, attending LGBTQ events, or any other actions that can increase awareness and knowledge. This stage is also a prerequisite to becoming more comfortable and confident for further involvement.

Questioning/Dialoguing  -  This stage is an attempt to begin educating others about homophobia and heterosexism. This stage requires more commitment as it seeks to engage people in dialogue about critical LGBTQ issues. Through the use of questions and dialogue, this stage of response attempts to help others increase their awareness of and knowledge about homophobia and heterosexism.

Supporting/Encouraging  -  This stage includes dedicated actions that directly confront the homophobic and heterosexist actions of others.
 These actions include supporting, encouraging, and reinforcing efforts to combat oppressive anti-LGBTQ behavior and attitudes. 

Initiating/Preventing  -  This stage includes actions that actively anticipate and identify homophobic institutionalized practices or individual actions and work diligently to change them. Actions in this stage are assertive and proactive and seek to defend and protect the rights of LGBTQ people. This stage is characterized by making changes in curricula, procedures, policies, and laws.

 

How to be a Better Ally at Pride Events

HRC: How to be an LGBTQ Ally

Straight for Equality

ABA Toolkit: How to Be An LGBTQ Ally

Straight Allies at Pride Events

 

Tips for LGBTQ Allies

--Be a good listener.

--Be open-minded. Don't be judgmental.

--Be supportive, encouraging, and affirming.
--Be willing to talk. Start a conversation about LGBTQ topics. Engage in discussions about LGBTQ issues and concerns.

--Be inclusive. Invite LGBTQ friends to hang out with your friends and family.

--Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
--Be sensitive and aware of homophobia, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression.

--Homophobic comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
--Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
--Defend your LGBTQ friends against discrimination.

--Attend LGBTQ events. Participate in LGBTQ activities.

--Join LGBTQ organizations.

--Seek to make changes in curricula, procedures, policies, and laws.

--Support LGBTQ equal rights through legislation and political activism.
--Believe that all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, should be treated with dignity and respect.

 

Frances Goldin: I Adore My Lesbian Daughters

“I always tell other parents that you’ll never find more giving children than gays and lesbians. And that I have the most devoted, loving, helpful, useful children in the world because I support my kids and they support me. So, please, cherish your lesbian and gay children.”
-Frances Goldin

 

She’s been a staple of the New York City Pride Parade for more than 30 years. Literary agent Frances Goldin, 92 years old, was the subject of a moving profile by BuzzFeed (September 2016), in which the proud mother of two lesbian daughters shared her story of activism.

“Since the beginning of the parade, I’ve been going and waving my sign,” Goldin explains. The message, “I adore my lesbian daughters,” instantly caught the attention of other parade attendees. “It sort of hit a nerve with people, particularly those whose parents rejected them. The response to the sign is always so great — it urges me to keep going.”

 

LGBTQ Nation: Proud Mom of Lesbian Daughters Carries Same Sign in Every NYC Pride Parade

BuzzFeed: 92 Year Old Woman Holds Same Sign for 30 Years

Huffington Post: Mother of the Century


Goldin's daughter Reeni says that her mother simply “believes in equality and fairness and what’s right. She really puts her money where her mouth is. She works for it. That’s her life. That’s just who she is.”

Frances Goldin has been attending the NYC Pride Parade for over 30 years with the same sign. Her daughters, Reeni and Sally Goldin currently reside in New Paltz, New York, and San Francisco, California. Both Sally, 70, and Reeni, 68, grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City with their parents and came out as lesbians soon after New York City’s first Pride Parade in 1970. The event is held annually on the last Saturday in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots.

Goldin is a powerhouse of a woman who, ever since both of her daughters came out in the early 1970s, has been an outspoken and compassionate advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community ― among other social and political causes.  Goldin’s daughter Reeni describes her mother as a 1950s radical whose commitment to social justice has led to her being arrested almost a dozen times. She’s worked tirelessly throughout her lifetime fighting for the rights of marginalized groups.

[Source: LGBT Nation, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed]
 

Zach Wahls: LGBT Ally

In 2011, Zach Wahls was an Iowa student whose impassioned pro-gay marriage speech to Iowa legislators became the most-watched political clip YouTube after going viral twice. Zach Wahls went on to serve as co-chair for "The Outspoken Generation," the Family Equality Council's national youth advocacy initiative involving the young adult children of LGBTQ parents.

 

Wahls is author of the book, My Two Moms.  He says, "A family is a group of people who love each other. If you're willing to put in the blood, sweat, toil and tears...if you're willing to make the commitment and demonstrate the love that it takes to successfully raise a young, healthy, well-rounded adult...who you are is so much less important than what you do."

"We are now seeing the first generation of children, who were lovingly raised by LGBTQ parents, coming into young adulthood," Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler says. "We know, from our conversations with these young people and from our experience with them, that they are terrific kids who are thriving and succeeding in life by any measure you choose to use. Many of them are now telling us that they are eager to tell the truth about their families. Who better to refute the myths and lies of hate groups than our grown up children?"

 

Ally Tips: Do's And Don'ts

Assumptions/Stereotypes

--Don’t assume that LGBTQ persons are more open to discussing sex

--Don’t use language that sexualizes LGBTQ persons

--Don’t assume that LGBTQ individuals have certain politics, views, philosophies, perspectives, opinions

--Don’t make assumptions about a person’s gender identity/expression based on their sexual orientation, and vice versa (for example, assuming that a gay man is interested in fashion solely because he is gay)

--Do treat LGBTQ persons the same as anyone else

--Do understand that an individual’s LGBTQ status is only a very small part of who they are

 

 

Terminology/Word Usage

--Don’t say “lifestyle” or “choice” when you mean “sexual orientation”

--Don’t say “sexual preference” when you mean “sexual orientation”

--Don’t say “those people” or “you people”

--Don’t say “homosexual”

--Don’t say “transgendered”

--Don’t say “a transgender”

--Don’t say “tranny,” even if you are a member of the LGBTQ community

--Don’t refer to an LGBTQ person’s significant other as “your special friend”

--Don’t use “queer” if you are not sure the person is comfortable with the term

--Don’t refer to someone as “changing” their gender

--Do follow the LGBTQ’s person’s lead in terms of word choices

--Do ask people what terms they feel comfortable with

--Do include the entire LGBTQ community in language (don’t just say gay and lesbian)

 

 

Conversation

--Don’t assume that just because you are an ally you have the right to ask intrusive questions about the person’s sex life and politics (for example, asking “how do you have sex”)

--Don’t comment on whether or not an individual looks gay, lesbian or transgender (LGBTQ individuals are all different)

--Don’t ask questions about personal medical issues (“Have you had the surgery?”)

--Don’t ask about genitals (“What’s in your trousers?”)

--Don’t mistakenly “out” a person as LGBTQ (by talking about them, or assuming that others know)

--Don’t ask others if you think someone else is gay

--Don’t limit conversation with LGBTQ individuals to LGBTQ issues

--Don’t ask “Which one of you is the guy/girl in the relationship?”

--Don’t make inappropriate personal inquiries that begin with “when you were a man/woman…” (for example, “When you were a man, did people treat you differently?”)

--Don’t refer to a transgender individual as a “transgender man” or “transgender woman,” thus demeaning their stature as being female or male

--Do apologize if you make a mistake, and then move on

--Do be supportive, but don’t over-compensate

--Do talk about the same things you would talk about with anyone else (the weather, sports, hobbies)

--Do respect personal boundaries

--Do use open, inclusive, gender neutral terms if you are inquiring about whether person has a significant other

--Do resist tendency to bring up LGBTQ topics immediately after someone discloses in one way or another their LGBTQ status or frequently when you are speaking with LGBTQ folks

--Do listen, and take your cue from the LGBTQ person regarding what they do and don’t want to share or talk about

 

 

Transgender

--Don’t use transgender as a noun (For example, don't say: "Sally Johnson is a

Transgender")

--Don’t use "transgendered" (Transgender never needs an extraneous "ed" at the end)

--Don’t use "transsexual" or "transvestite"

--Don’t speculate about medical procedures transgender people may or may not choose to undertake as part of their transition (This is private medical information, and a transgender identity is not dependent on medical procedures)

--Don’t imply that someone who comes out as transgender (regardless of their age) was lying or being deceptive because he or she chose to keep that information private

--Don’t indulge in superficial critiques of a transgender person's femininity or masculinity (Commenting on how well a transgender person conforms to conventional standards of femininity or masculinity is reductive and insulting)

--Don’t police people’s bathroom choices

--Do understand that transgender individuals are not necessarily gay, lesbian or bisexual

--Do understand that LGBTQ youth may be particularly vulnerable and sensitive

--Do describe people who transition as transgender, and use transgender as an adjective

--Do refer to someone’s transgender female/male identity as her/his gender identity, not her/his sexual orientation

 

Gender Neutrality

--Do try to avoid gendered terms if they aren’t necessary (say “child” not “son”)

--Do create a more inclusive environment by using gender neutral and inclusive language (use words like “partner” and “significant other” instead of “husband” or “wife”)

--Do avoid reference to gender in forms and applications if you don’t need it

--Do consider not saying “ladies and gentleman” if it is not necessary, since you exclude people who don’t strongly identify with either

--Do open events to both genders (Don’t assume that men would not want to be invited to an event about fashion and make-up)

 

 

Pronouns

--Don’t try to guess someone’s pronoun

--Don’t use the wrong pronoun (Pronouns really matter)

--Do ask (if you truly need to) “what pronoun do you prefer?”

--Do apologize and move on if you use the wrong pronoun

 

Support

--Do be affirming and let your LGBTQ friends and colleagues know that you love them just as they are

--Don’t suggest that you accept a person “even though” they are an LGBTQ individual

--Do encourage employment of LGBTQ persons

--Do speak out and express your objection if someone else is making stereotypical and/or offensive jokes or statements about LGBTQ persons or issues

--Do offer health insurance benefits that cover gender transition related medical care

--Do ensure that people at the top of large organizations are vocal about being allies and actively involved in promoting LBGTQ inclusion

--Do donate money and resources to LGBTQ organizations

--Do get training and education on LGBTQ issues, no matter how much you think you know already

--Do spend time with members of the LGBTQ community

--Do join LGBTQ organizations

--Do include younger persons in your efforts to be an ally as they are often more inclusive and aware of LGBTQ issues

 

[Source: American Bar Association]

 

Remembering the Early Pioneers

PFLAG Began in 1972

Photo Left: PFLAG Moms, Mrs. Elizabeth Montgomery and Mrs. Jean Manford, show their support during the 1974 Pride Day Parade in New York City. Photo Right: PFLAG Dad, Dick Ashworth, a founding member of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG,) marching on June 3, 1974.
 

 

In 1972, Morton Manford was physically attacked at a gay rights demonstration in New York. Morty’s parents, Jeanne and Jules Manford, saw the attack on a local newscast and witnessed the failure of the police to intervene. Their outrage turned them into activists. The concept of PFLAG began in 1972 when Jeanne Manford marched with her gay son in New York’s Pride Day parade. After many gay men and lesbians ran up to Jeanne during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, Jeanne decided to begin a support group. Approximately 20 people attended the first formal meeting held in March 1973 at a local church.

In the next years, through word of mouth and in response to community need, similar groups sprung up around the country, offering “safe havens” and mutual support for parents with gay and lesbian children. Following the 1979 National March for Gay and Lesbian Rights, representatives from these support groups met for the first time in Washington, DC. In 1981, members decided to launch a national organization. The first PFLAG office was established in Los Angeles under founding President Adele Starr. In 1982, the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), then comprising some 20 groups, changed from a federation to a membership-based organization and was incorporated in California and granted non-profit, tax-exempt status. In 1990, following a period of enormous growth, PFLAG hired an Executive Director, expanded its staff, and consolidated operations in Washington, DC. In 1993, the word “Families” was added to the name.


 

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