The consciousness of one’s own dignity.
Before we really get into this, I want you to read that definition again. Powerful shit, right?
How do you truly conquer dignity in a flippant society?
June is the holy grail of queer culture.
It’s the month in which all queer folk band together to shred on corporations for their annual, performative allyship and the month in which we also genuinely take the time to celebrate each other.
While the umbrella may be a colorful one, for most of us it was dark for many years.
This past year has taught me more things than I knew I needed to be taught. How to be an actual ally is the most important one.
I’ve lived my life under the very false assumption that because I’m a gay woman, I couldn’t possibly be doing allyship wrong.
My rainbow badge of honor was born and bred with the innate ability to never have a racist or bigoted thought and made me a card-carrying member of the Confident Knowledge Club in which we know exactly how to support people in other disadvantaged groups.
There was also no way in hell that I wasn’t an incredible ally to my own people. My willingness to live my life out loud and post the occasional meme hate-thanking LinkedIn for changing their social profiles to a rainbow flag was plenty, right?
I learned that being an ally was more than words and donating money to the most well-known, buzzworthy charity.
Like everything else in this world, it’s about showing up and amplifying the voices that need a mic in that moment the most. Allyship is not posting an infographic that may or may not be accurate.
It is not commenting a heart on a friend’s post when they express their personal struggle with exclusion. More than anything else, allyship is certainly not saying you support a group of people and then, when it comes down to it, not taking their lead on the actions that they say will create positive change.
Throughout out my life, I’ve considered myself to be fortunate to have met more people who say they fully support LGBTQIA+ equality than not.
What I never took into account until recently was how many of them actually lived their words. The answer is sadly very few.
I’ve had friends who attended my wedding tell me that they would stand by my family no matter what.
Then, come election time vote for a man who would was about three seconds away from recreating The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve had family members who were accepting to my face tell other people that it’s just that, only to my face.
My favorite are the friends who need a token. They need to feel diverse by surrounding themselves with diversity instead of focusing on their privilege of dictating inclusion.
This past year, I learned a lot from watching other people who can’t hide behind the color of their skin in the same way I can.
I have the option of letting go of my wife’s hand in public if I feel unsafe. People of color don’t have that luxury. We should never forget that or take it for granted.
I specifically learned what action looks like from people who showed up for each other and challenged the status quo by saying this is simply not even close to good enough.
The BLM movement inspired me to learn in a way I’d never thought I needed to learn before. It taught me what an actual ally looks like, and it taught me that it’s ok to not go with the flow just because that’s how the flow’s always been.
Allyship is being willing to hear that your previous understanding of something may be incorrect.
Allyship is recognizing that privilege means not having any court cases about your rights. Allyship is fundraising and donating to organizations who actually have an impactful message.
They don’t just collect and regurgitate. They create and show up to make change for the groups in need. Allyship is tangible.
Allyship is actionable.
For the first time in my almost 20 years since coming out, I’m looking at Pride through the lens of creating actionable change and encouraging others to do the same.
I’m still figuring out what that looks like.
How do you light a fire in a closet full of people who have never been given the opportunity to have so much as a spark?
The stifled stay stifled until they can’t take it anymore.
The LGBTQIA+ community’s threshold for accepting neglect is unreasonable.
We’ve existed quietly because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t. We may say things like loud and proud, but we know that actually means out and accepted well enough.
We’ve all felt the need to pretend we’re not who we are at some point and that sucks. Yes, there have been some incredible movements through the years.
These beacons of hope where we see a glimmer of how straight, white people are treated.
Yes, there has been change.
There are laws in place to help ensure some semblance of protection. It’s the things and people we still need protection from that keep us at night.
Normalization, safety and respect does not happen overnight.
It takes mindful people to band together and demand what they’re entitled to. It takes the privileged standing up and standing by in an actionable way because, whether we want to admit it or not, they’re the ones who can make the change happen faster.
It takes an ounce of fearlessness.
A group of people whose standard operating procedure is rejection doesn’t always make for front line warriors, but sometimes it does and sometimes those warriors have enough pride to take the closet door right off of its hinges and set that shit on fire.