This week when I read I am not an LGBT ally, I’m an accomplice by Sommer Foster, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt. Her story was strikingly similar to mine: self-proclaimed ally (check), gay best friend (check), gay family members (check), voted against the gay marriage ban (check), and the list goes on. I, like the author, believed that this somehow made me more progressive and enlightened than some people. So, reading this article kind of busted my balloon. The article talked about how ally-ship wasn’t really helping the LGBTQ community, it was just a status symbol. And it’s true.
If you’re just an ally of the community, chances are you haven’t really struggled with your sexual identity. Sure, maybe you have a little, but not really struggled. The article Choosing Queer: I Was Not Born This Way, and That’s Ok by Hari Ziyad talks about some of the struggles of being queer. Hari felt like he had to be intimate with women in order to be masculine and talked about the repercussions of his friends and family knowing that he was queer. Eventually he learned what masculinity and gender meant to him, but there is still a constant struggle with his family and community. That’s an almost unimaginably difficult burden to deal with every single day, and it’s a burden that’s not often thought about or understood by non-LGBTQ.
For this reason, many members of the LGBTQ community still feel the need to conceal their true self’s. The rejection from family and friends, being shunned from the community, and the fear of violence towards LGBTQ is enough reason for many to hide. And I don’t blame them. Dani/Liam Jones wrote the poem A Queer Dream, published in the zine Not Trans Enough, which highlights some of the struggles of being queer. One section reads, “Until then/ we will make hiding a part of our life cycle/ and as we wrap ourselves in warm shadow blankets/ we watch the stars/ watching us,/ uncertain whether the impossibly bright faces/ shine with love or desire/ to burn us away forever.” This section summarizes the sad reality many queer people face. Ridiculed and demonized in mainstream media and their own communities, all these people want are to be themselves. Is that really so much to ask for? I don’t think so.
Therefore, I’ve decided I don’t want to be an ally anymore. I want to be an accomplice. Instead of supporting the LGTBQ community on paper, it’s time to support them in person. One way to get involved on campus this fall is to join HokiePRIDE of Virginia Tech, aimed to provide safe spaces, raise awareness, and provide support for the LGTBQ community. Check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/583949741712088/
Foster, S. (2015). I am not an LGBT ally, I’m an accomplice. Retrieved June 17, 2016 from http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/12/i-am-not-an-lgbt-ally-im-an-accomplice/
Ziyad, H. (2015). Choosing Queer: I Was Not Born This Way, And That’s Ok. Retrieved June 17, 2016 from http://racebaitr.com/2015/09/30/choosing-queer-i-was-not-born-this-way-and-thats-ok/
Jones, D/L. (n.d.) A queer dream. Not Trans Enough (23).