Queer Allies

FEATURED WORKS

A Designated Ally, "Untitled"

Katherine Polanco, "How to feel safe in an “un-safe space”?"

Jean Dorak, "On Queer Allyship"

A Designated Ally, "Untitled"

So we are out of the closet, but into what? What new unbound spatiality? For being “out” always depends to some extent on being “in”; it gains its meaning only within that polarity. Hence, being “out” must produce the closet again and again in order to maintain itself as “out.” In this sense, outness can only produce a new opacity, and the closet produces the promise of a disclosure that can, by definition, never come.

 

-Imitation and Gender Insubordination, Judith Butler

 

            As Jason Alexander states in his GLAAD ‘Coming Out for Equality’ PSA series “I know what it’s like to be in the closet. I know what it’s like to be bullied and attacked because someone or some group thought I was different or below them and I know what it’s like to do nothing when it happens to someone else. I’m coming out of the closet as an Ally for equality for everyone, as an Ally for hope.” An Ally refers to someone who is a member of the ‘dominant’ or ‘majority’ group who works to end oppression in his or her personal and professional life through support of, and as an advocate for, the oppressed population. I believe what makes someone ‘Queer’ is their deviation from the norm of society. With this definition in mind I think being an Ally is ‘Queer’ because unfortunately to care passionately about a group that you may not directly belong to and do not have direct effect from is at times bashed as not normal. As a designated Ally I feel like we ‘queerly’ deviate not only from norm of society by openly supporting equality for LGBTQ individuals but we also deviate within the LGBTQ community. Heteronormative society view allies in a ‘Queer” manner because they wonder why do you care so much you’re straight, while the LGBTQ community view allies in a ‘Queer’ manner because they wonder why do care so much you’re not gay.    

            Although the closet for straight allies is different for LGBTQ individuals because at the end of the day we do still have our heteroprivilege of unearned civil rights, societal benefits, and advantages granted to us based solely on our sexual orientation, I think we do have similar forms of coming out that is also continuous as Butler states. Whether you are disclosing as LGBTQ or A that coming out will occur again and again with every new setting where you have to figure out whether to disclose yourself is a new closet to maneuver out or stay within. You constantly have to negotiate and manage such self-disclosing information. Similarly to Jason Alexander’s comment I think when LGBTQ and even A individuals come out they face a similar amount of negative risks such as stigmatization, negative bias/judgments, discrimination, family disproval, violence, and the rejection of feelings that can prevent future disclosing of one’s identity or the use of concealment as a coping strategy. Moreover, the positive aspects of coming out are similar as well such as being able develop an authentic and stable sense of self, have less fear of harassment and anxiety because no longer worried about concealment, and gain a sense of validation of one’s lifestyle.        

            In this paper, I hope to paint a picture of how my own journey in becoming an ally follows along with LGBTQ coming out stories and shows even with our heteroprivilege we have more in common then wanting to further equality. 

 

My Journey of Becoming an Ally

            So how did I become so devoted for the LGBTQ community? When did I realize that my voice could possibly be useful in bringing about change and equality? Well, as I think back, I am able to see there have been numerous instances in my life where I felt trust, friendship, and honor from the LGBTQ community, as well as felt the injustices they feel daily in their lives. One thing running constant is that through all the West Indian gay bashing I unfortunately grew up with and at one point believed, and witnessing the cruelty of one of my first LGBTQ friend suffer high school harassment this foundation gave me the intuition to want to stop homophobic hate and make up for not knowing how to help back then.

            The greatest influence in my journey to becoming an Ally stems from all the work I have done and still plan on doing to further equality. This goes for both morally by providing those safe places and professionally by furthering studies on gender and sexuality in the psychology field.

            Working at the LGBTQA and Social Justice Center as one of the very first interns when it officially opened in 2011 for a year truly set the stages of what I would like to go on and do. I remember in the beginning always checking in with Kelly if I was doing everything okay because half the time I had no idea what I was doing. I was learning new concepts every other week like heteroprivilege, heteronormativity, the various acronyms, the reclaiming of queer as a sexual identity, and student’s various perceptions of the community. I was constantly wondering when attending those weekly discussion groups what exactly did I bring to the table. Towards the end of my internship I began to see although I had by doubts I brought more to the Center then I thought. As everyone began to designate me more and more as an Ally I began to see what I brought was a sense of support, a showcase to people even though we may not “have” to care many do, and a responsibility to be put yourself out there a little more with the cause then standing idle by. Moreover, it was just a genuinely great feeling watching the students who were once cautious about being in the community prosper into full on activists with no hesitation today. Nonetheless, the journey of proclaiming this newfound identity I’ve been given to the world has truly been an experience of its own. 

 

So I am out as an Ally now what?

             As I previously stated I think LGBTQ and A’s have somewhat of a similar experience on coming out then we think. If you really think about no matter what identity you are outing yourself as (i.e. ethnicity, race, religious belief, gender, sex, belief in equality) this process will always need to be re-performed and there is no one universal way of escaping the polarity of being in or out. For instance, for those who may have identity markers such as the pride colors or be perceived stereotypically as being queer despite however you may classify them, you still do not know how they classify themselves on the any spectrum. It is up to the person to either reinforce what you already thought or shatter your perception.

            As I became more and more involved in LGBTQ issues this is when I noticed I was becoming more ‘Queer’ in the hetero world and ‘Queer’ in the community. I remember the awkward moments I would get into with people whether straight or LGBTQ when explaining my internships at the LGBTQA and Social Justice Center and at NYU where I researched young men-sleep-with men sexual and drug behavior or my research thesis of coming out on Facebook. People’s reactions either are ‘Oh…ummm…that’s cool’, ‘Why’ or the infamously analyzing look of or sometimes even flat out asked ‘Are you….’. I’ve had an elderly black women suddenly get the urge to read their bibles after noticing my very gay reading material, discussions with my religious West Indian family on why can’t I focus on something else, and even a LGB person let me know straight people have no purpose in community because they just don’t understand. For both sides I ‘queerly’ deviate into this separate entity.

            Although it would be easy on myself in these situations to just reassure people by defaulting to ‘I’m straight I just really care’ which consequently I think portrays myself as some straight savior to LGBTQ people to alleviate whatever un-comfortableness they may be feeling I never do. By not reneging and leaving them in their un-comfortableness my ‘queerness’ forces them to notice their homophobia or straight bashing and lead us into a dialogue about why the struggle for equality is a human rights issue not just a gay issue.

            Despite having to constantly out myself as a supporter and go through these type of reactions and being viewed as a queer deviation by both sides I don’t let that deter me from future disclosure. I’ve learned to not have any hesitation to openly having this type of dialogue with straight and LGBTQ individuals time after time whether it’s on the train, on a job interview as they look at my resume, or at family get together. Even though I don’t always proclaim my designated identity I do want to be the best Ally and outing myself as one defiantly has allowed me to develop an authentic and stable sense of self.

 

Celebrities outing themselves as Ally

            I love that celebrities are also openly expressing to the world how they feel about LGBTQ issues because at the end of the day they do not have to state anything. While it can be looked at as ok so you support our issues yay you but these celebrities are doing so much more by not standing idly by and thinking that’s a gay issue only. The ‘Coming Out for Equality’ PSAs by GLAAD are a great example of how celebrities putting themselves on the line and ‘queerly’ expressing their deviation from the stereotype straight people don’t care or their all homophobic could have a great impact. Moreover, it provides a sense of gratification for LGBTQ people knowing their favorite celebrity supports them. For instance when President Obama declared his support for equality, which could have badly impacted his approval ratings, this brought the issues on the forefront of newspapers more so than it already has. Another example is up and coming hip-hop artist Macklemore who created this beautiful music video called Same Love in support of marriage equality in 2012. The hip-hop community is notorious for being extremely homophobic and by creating this video he could have made his rise to fame ten times harder, but he didn’t and stuck by his ‘queer’ deviation from norm of rappers being homophobic. Viewed at a total of 39,044,191 times on YouTube this video had straight and LGBTQ people proclaiming their support of ‘real love’ and allyship for equality.

            Allies ‘queer’ deviation to come out about their support has more importance to the LGBTQ issues movement then might think. The more allies that out themselves about their beliefs in support of equality the more it will be less ‘queer’ to even be an ally. Every allies constant declaration will shift people’s attitude to no longer think to ask why do you care. Being an ally will simply become a norm for everyone. As this ‘queer’ deviation continues on I hope it aides to bringing other issues to a priority for everyone such as homeless LGBTQ youth and stopping corrective rapes in foreign countries. Moreover, maybe it will lessen the norm of hearing homophobic remarks by religious groups, tea party supporters, and right wing republicans. Being homophobic in general will become something of the past that no one could understand how people used to think this way.

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Katherine Polanco, "How to feel safe in an “un-safe space”?"

Many people have heard the term “safe space.” And it’s one that is often used as a term in spaces that are often therapeutic to those people who wish to speak freely and honestly without fear of being judged or ridiculed. The term of safe space is often used in circles regarding groups of people that are often oppressed. These groups of people usually include feminists, color people, those of the LGBTQ, and so on.

These places are usually a place for people of the oppressed group, who can speak without being concerned over the thoughts and opinions of the oppressor or oppressors.

In my experience, and in my field of work it is very important to have a safe space and it can also be highly personal. This place whether it is real or online is somewhere where I want to be able to speak my mind, and my heart without being judged for doing so. In a safe space I should feel as if I don’t have to filter what I say or do in fear of hurting someone’s feelings or getting my feelings hurt.

For a lot of people there aren’t such spaces where they can speak or be themselves freely without being judged and it’s a constant struggle for me to try and figure out how we can speak freely in an unsafe place. Not only is this terrible for someone who is living under a roof with hostile and judgmental parents, or with an abusive partner, or in a housing situation with unstable friends or strangers but it isn’t good for anyone who feels like they have nowhere that is safe to them. 

We can feel safe in certain places but how can we make those things that happen in those spaces work outside of them?

Well, I think the trouble lies in the case that everyone is always a stranger, at least at first. But we do have to think that there is some sort of safety in a stranger. I’m thinking of when I first started blogging, I was 17 and pouring out my heart and soul to a bunch of complete strangers on the Internet. Not only was it freeing and thrilling to share my stories with people who couldn’t see me, under a different name, but it was in a way that I had previously only written to myself or in my “diary.” These people I met on the Internet would connect with me, based on my writing, on our common interests, would comment, laugh and support me. And that was something that was tremendous to me in a time in my life when I need help to grow and change while becoming an adult.

However, over time, I think that space has changed incredibly.

I remember beginning to meet people in real life who I could form these friendships with and soon my real friends also became people who saw what my life was on online forums and instead of now having an audience of strangers, I had an audience of people I knew, whose lives were also connected to mine. And ironically, the space I once shared as a safe space with those online, for sharing my deepest feelings and my life experiences, was no longer a safe space. Not only did I feel as if now too many people were involved but the stories I shared were no longer only my own. I felt as if somewhere along the line the people I knew in real life were passing judgment and not only support.

            So in real life, with a counselor, with a therapist or with just a normal group of people, these stranger relationships can become a little difficult for us being that the person doesn’t know us, and we assume that they’re not supposed to judge us but these people can see us, they know our real name and we’re not protected from our true identity. Sure we can hide who we really are, but what does that say about how comfortable we truly are with ourselves?

            So how do we create safe space outside of our safe space?

I think everything generally begins with the body for most people. We worry about getting too much out there right away and are afraid or shy to be ourselves in public. So we may need to sit and talk for a while and get our thoughts out to those we feel are listening without worrying about the intimacy of being judged. I believe that the first thing we need to introduce ourselves to is the idea of tuning in to our own bodies; Putting our feet to the floor and knowing that the ground supports us should be enough! We should know individually what we’re feeling physically as we discuss certain things and then figure out the feelings within ourselves. Not only does this ground our emotions in a physical solidity that we crave but it can also be extremely helpful for our search in safety.

I think being comfortable within our own selves begins to cultivate a relationship of trust between us and our own bodies and this is often a relationship that often has been broken in people who seek help or understanding amongst others.  The more we trust our own bodies to the truth, the greater power we will have to support us in difficult times to make the change we want in his life without feeling pressured, or judged by anyone in any circumstance out of spaces that we once felt were unsafe.

Safety is complicated. Sometimes what makes me feel safe or in fact unsafe makes no damn sense at all!

And most of the time I just have to accept that part of what I am is this scared non-sense-making creature that needs what it needs. I also have to accept that it’s my responsibility to provide my own feeling of safety, because no amount of thinking about safety in the pragmatic sense is going to help reassure those parts of me.

And I think we need to begin by questioning how safe is our reality? How much imagining and worry and projection of "what ifs," do we often put out into our future? Or how many times do we say, "Oh, I would love to do that... but what if this happens?" 

The main problem with feeling “safe” in an “un-safe” space is that in our culture, we have been trained to feel unsafe. In our lives we have often been taught that we should always hope for the best all while assuming the worst. But where exactly does the power lie in that sort of statement? It lies in the worst because not only is that what we’re expecting but it’s also what we’re creating in a sense. Our culture has taught us that this is a good thing to do because then you will be prepared. But why should we prepare ourselves to feel unsafe and live in fear? How safe is our actual reality? How much imagining and worry do we actually put into our future?

We live in such a fear-based reality. A reality that says the sky is blue and water is wet, and that’s just the way the world is. We live in a world full of realities that says take before you are taken, that tell us we must fight for what we want because the world is harsh and cruel and there isn’t enough for everyone. In a world where things happen to everyone, so just accept it.

How can we protect ourselves from bad things happening around us? Well I see protection devices as security measures and safety as resonance. We know that as many protection devices or methods we have, we are never totally safe. Safety is a choice. You have to choose to be safe. If you hold the resonance of safety, you will not attract to yourself something that may hurt you. However, if you are caught up in this fear-based reality, it’s time for you to step beyond the limitations of your fear. To feel safe “outside” of a safe space it is time to stop letting our fears run our lives and its time to claim that you are you, no matter where you are.

Assuming a Bodyexcerpt by Gayle Salamon was interesting to me because I could relate my ideas of safety to it. I found that the idea of sexuality being ambiguous and the possibility that it can only be mapped when we actually act on behaviors extremely interesting. Salamon spoke about line detailing intersubjectivity, where we rely on the presence of other bodies to validate our own and how we are reliant not on ourselves but others to map our sexual schema. I never really understood that until I thought about how we react in different groups of people. And I know acknowledge that it’s true that others are the ones who shape our sexual and bodily schema. But to me the fact that others can still shape the way we behave shows fear within ourselves.

And I believe that we have to believe in the present and claim that we are safe. Our power can only remain when we are present. For a person to be safe in their world, we have to love everything that is there. I’m not saying to turn a blind eye and ignore all the pain and suffering and ugliness around us, because we all know that doesn’t work. But as a Buddhist I try and live with as little judgment as possible. Because judging something will only create fear in it and will bring limitation upon you.

We want to feel safe and be able to always speak freely, yet as humans we are used to placing judgment on people, things, and situations. But if you don't judge it, then none of the pain or the suffering or the sorrow will stick to you. And as you send out love and safety, I truly believe that you will get that in return. We can make everything that happened in our classroom also work outside of the classroom by holding resonance in our safety. We have to be courageous enough to dream and stand for a world where the qualities that we love and cherish actually exist no matter who you’re around. Start with us and impact the world to erase this fear-based reality.

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Jean Dorak, "On Queer Allyship"

“I’m not, as far as I know, HIV positive … I came out as HIV-positive for two reasons... as the sole representative of queer theory and disability studies, I wanted to draw attention to the politics of looking into queer and disabled bodies.”

-Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability by Robert McRuer (page 53).

“Queerness as an assemblage moves away from excavation work, deprivileges a binary opposition between queer and not-queer subjects, and, instead of retaining queerness exclusively as dissenting, resistant and alternative *all of which queerness importantly is and does), it underscores contingency and complicity with dominant formations.”

-Queer Times, Queer Assemblages by Jasbir K. Puar (pages 121-122)

 

            A topic that often comes into debate amongst my queer peers and in queer studies classes is allyship. It is a hotly debated topic that often leads to argument and fragmentation of our group. Some people feel that the direction we should take is to avoid allies, while others still support ally weeks and other means of welcoming allies to our community. But what does it mean to be a queer ally? What is a queer ally? What do queer allies do? What are they good for? What does it even mean to be queer? In this post, I will attempt to address each of these questions, while raising more questions for the reader. The intention of this is not actually to convince you of my opinions, but to get you, the reader, to think about these questions and answer them for yourself.

            In order to dissect the differing views on queer allyship and what being an ally means, I must first define the term queer. To me, being queer goes beyond what the Queer Nation Manifesto outlined. Queer may simply mean a person that is LGBTQA for some people, however, I believe the true meaning of queer goes beyond that. I argue that an individual can be part of the LGBTQA community and not be a queer individual. At any moment any person can be queer and in the next moment not. By this I don’t mean that everyone is queer, but that everyone has moments where they are either queered or feel queer. I have come to believe that queer is an assemblage, as Jasbir Puar asserts. Queer can be an identification others put upon you, and is more of a collective identity than a singular one. Puar uses the example of terrorists and Muslim sexualities as identities that have been queered.

One can be queer simply by identifying hirself as such, or the “other” can queer an individual. I think queerness, specifically in the United States challenges or rejects heteronormativity, the gender binary, patriarchy, gender conformativity or normativity. This can be in conjunction with an individual identifying hirself as LGBTQA, but I believe that heterosexual people as well may be queer. Particularly if ze is queered by others, that solidifies the identity of the self.  The most important thing about queerness is that there is NOT one universal definition for what it is. If there was one wholly accepted definition, then I would not have to explain my interpretation here.

Now that I have explained the term queer, I will discuss queer allyship. Queer allies are many things. Just like the queer identity, the ally identity cannot have one single definition, otherwise it would be static and not fluid, which it needs to be to accommodate the queer identity it supports. Below I will discuss varying viewpoints on the queer ally identity, its strengths, weaknesses and where my opinions fall on these matters.

Allies are valuable because they can use their privileges to levy support and create change in ways that we may not be able to do so alone. From a peace and justice studies standpoint, allies are extremely valuable because they represent support, they strengthen a movement. However, there is some queer opposition to allies and great debate over what “makes” an ally. What criteria must an ally meet to be included in that “a” in our long acronym? Is it not enough for an ally to say that they are allied to LGBTQA rights? What does an ally need to do in order to be “legit”?

One argument I listened to from a queer individual was that allies must fight for rights – vehemently- in order to be considered an ally. Another argued that we don’t have these expectations of people “like us” that are queer, so why are we creating such high standards for allies? The answer to people setting higher standards for allies is clear- there is a fear that anyone can call themselves an ally, and misrepresent the queer community. There is definitely a difference between speaking on behalf of others and simply displaying support or solidarity for them, and this needs to be observed by all parties.

The excerpt quoted at the beginning of this post is one I have been questioning for weeks now. The author came out as HIV positive, although he in fact was not. My immediate response was that it isn’t “fair” for him to claim a false identity. But then I thought about how being an ally identifies you as clearly NOT being part of the group you are supporting. Is being an ally claiming/becoming the identity you are defending? Is that how a person is the ultimate ally? I don’t believe any ally can fully claim the identity they are claiming allyship to. By being an ally, ze is already not part of the group ze is supporting. Also, that ally cannot vouch for the experiences that ze has never personally experienced, therefore making ze an outsider. This brings me to my next question. If an ally is then an outsider, does that mean some other has queered that ally’s self?  Is it unethical to claim an identity that is biologically untrue? The author argues that at the time, he very well could have been infected with HIV, but was negative. Is this a form of solidarity, or does this delegitimize the experiences of people that are actually HIV positive? I see this and think of the straight celebrities that joke and say they are gay as a way of supporting the LGBTQA community. It is often quite clear that they are not gay, but want to “make a point”. I question how effectively this point can be made when it is even clearer that these individuals are not the identity they claim as part of their allyship. Is it really a political identity if it is not believable or perceived as a joke?

Is an ally inherently queer because ze is announcing hir’s difference from normative society? In other words, may allies be queered by the “rest” of society due to their support of other queer people? Or, does it make hir queer by keeping hir out of the neat bubble of “queer” people and out of the bubble of the oppressors?

            I think there needs to be further discussion on what an ally should and should not do. I also think there will not and should not be one agreed upon answer to this question. How do you be an ally? I don’t want to provide just one answer to that. You can be an ally by: defending queer people to your peers, spreading awareness, donating money to queer organizations, volunteering, going to protests and rallies, always asking for a person’s preferred gender pronouns and name, and/or by not vouching for us as an entire group with one mission or agenda. One weakness of allies is when well-intentioned people take over our agency and share stories that are not theirs, out people, or speak on behalf of us. This takes away from the queer experience and often times can misrepresent our histories and desires. There is a fine line between explaining how your story fits into the queer experience and explaining another’s queer experience altogether.

You can be an ally by simply saying “all people deserve to be who they truly are, not assimilate to other’s norms”. You could even be an ally by asking yourself or others if something is trans*phobic, biphobic, homophobic, racist or queerphobic. Be an ally by always CHECKING your privilege! Looking at where intersectionalities play into queerness is vital in allyship, as identity is multifaceted. You can use your position of privilege to impact how others think and feel about us. I think it is safe to say that allies should not out people without their permission, should not speak for other peoples’ stories and experiences, and should not speak for what we want. I could be wrong- I am just one queer person out of the large assemblage of us in the world!

I have come to understand that many queer allies are afraid to admit that they are allies, or do not feel they are entitled to that identity. Part of this is their fear of being shamed or judged by the people they are allies to. When looking at this, again, from a peace and justice studies perspective, I must say that this fear must be addressed. By having proud allies, we are showing strength and support. It gives us an opportunity to advance our causes through privilege and more supporters. When approaching social justice movements, often times a SWOT analysis is utilized. A SWOT analysis demonstrates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the movement. Usually one would look at the opponent(s) and examine how to address them. Keeping this in mind, it is much more lucrative and useful for us to add to our strengths instead of our opponents. By rejecting allies, we are creating more opponents, obstacles and weaknesses to our liberation. On the other hand, we would not be assimilating to past movements, which may be an underlying goal of casting off allies.

The reason I have heard that we should separate ourselves from our allies and the privilege they can turn for our advantage is that we should be “fighting alone” or without the use of wielding privilege. I can only imagine what that would do for our movement. While I don’t agree with the single agenda politics of the “marriage equality” movement, the reason it is so successful is in part to allies. Allies marched, allies rallied, allies supported, called politicians and allies passed legislation on “our” behalf.  I am by no means saying that the so called “marriage equality” movement is successful solely due to allies, but they do contribute greatly to recent success in legislation in favor of same sex marriage and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Statistically speaking, it is not likely that every single individual in the bureaucracy is homosexual, so that means a good amount must be allies or were pressured by allies and people in the movement to change policies in their favor. Numbers matter in any movement. The more supporters one has, the stronger it represents the will of the people. By demonstrating what “the people” want, it is more likely that change will occur in policy in the United States. I realize this may sound overly positive; saying that policy will change if it’s the will of “the people” in this country, however that is one way it is formed. If there is an adequate amount of internal pressure, policy can change, as it has in the past repeatedly. If you need examples, look at the 18th amendment, the prohibition and repeal of it, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to name a few.

            I raise a lot of questions in this piece- without providing all of the answers. This is because I don’t believe there is just one answer to any of these questions. I also don’t have the answers to everything- because I am but one person in the Queer community, and am a white, cisgendered, middle class woman. I only represent a small group of people, and even then can’t vouch for all of the people that may identify with me and certainly can’t speak on behalf of their experiences or desires. In that sense, we are all allies of some sort. I identify as an ally to people of color, to other queer people, to trans* people, to people of different classes and citizen statuses. There are many ways to frame ally identity. If we look at identity in this way, then not all of the people within the LGBTQA community are allies to each other. It also means that LGBTQA people are also allies. We must all look at allyship beyond the binary of being “one” or the “other”, rainbow or not, queer or not queer. The ally identity is not reliant upon not being or identifying as something, but rather identifying as a supporter of an idea or identity.

Therefore, we should all look at ourselves and ask how WE can be better allies to someone, because we all are allies (or can be allies), regardless of where we fall on the LGBTQA spectrum or outside of it. The most constructive criticism is the kind we apply to ourselves, not the judgment we dole out to others. Allyship is an intersectional identity – meaning that you can be allied and bi, or allied and queer- not just an ally and an “outsider” to the LGBTQA community or the Queer community. How can we criticize these ‘non-queer’ allies for their actions until we first look at if we are being ‘good’ allies and actually allying with others? If we are an assemblage, we must come together not become more polarized and dissident about supporting each other. We can argue about philosophies and theories as much as we want; in fact, I encourage discourse among us to foster growth and further understanding for us as a queer assemblage. However, what right do we have in criticizing allies because they are not ‘one of us’, when we just queered them? By creating more of an ‘other’, are we not just strengthening our oppressors and weakening our path to liberation?

 I think each of my questions has an answer based on an individual’s situation. I am avoiding the binary of giving my answer and saying the “other” option is not allyship. I can’t vouch for all of the queer community, just as no ally can. Is being an ally just announcing that you believe that queer people have the right to be liberated? I truly think allyship must be determined on a case by case basis, just as all forms of identity are determined.

There needs to be more inclusion of allies, but for the sake of safe spaces we must also make it clear when allies may not be welcome- because they may not make that safe space any longer. I do think resisting queer allies leads the queer community down a dangerous path. How far can any movement go without supporters? It is much more polarizing to make it so clearly ‘us versus them’ if we refuse to involve people with that privilege to support us. Some queer people fear that utilizing allies in a movement means they are “fighting for us”. I suggest we re-examine this situation. By having allies, we have more people that are fighting with us. We are all allies, or at least we all have the capabilities to be them. We need to stop perpetuating the ‘us versus them’ binary in relation to ‘us versus allies’ and realize that allies are a part of us, because we are allies. We are letting the master, and his system of binaries and arbitrary rules control how we think and feel about others. If we aren’t careful, we may become the oppressor by so brutally rejecting allies- because that means we are rejecting ourselves.

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