LGBT Ally and Advocate
COURAGEOUS LGBT ALLIES
Allies and Advocates for LGBT Rights
LGBT Ally and Advocate
The Iowa student whose impassioned pro-gay
marriage speech to Iowa legislators became the most-watched political
clip of 2011 on YouTube after going viral twice last year will soon take
his message to the national level.
BEING AN ALLY OR ADVOCATE
Beyond Tolerance: Moving Toward
Denying or ignoring. This stage of response includes inaction that supports lesbian, gay, or bisexual, or gender presentation oppression coupled with an unwillingness or inability to understand the effects of homophobic and heterosexist actions. 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 the system of oppression.
Recognizing, but no action. This stage of response is characterized by a recognition of homophobic or heterosexist actions and the harmful effects of these actions. However, this recognition does not result in the action to interrupt the homophobic or heterosexist situation. Taking action is prevented by homophobia 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 “queer joke”, recognizing that is homophobic, not laughing at the joke, but saying nothing to the friend about the joke.
Recognizing and interrupting.
This stage of response
includes not only recognizing homophobic and heterosexist actions, but
also taking action to stop them. 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 antihomophobic and anti-heterosexist actions. In this stage a
person hearing a “queer joke” would not laugh and would tell the joke
teller that jokes that put down any minority, including gays, are not
funny. Another example would be a person who realized that s/he is
avoiding an activity because others might think s/he is lesbian, gay,
bisexual or transgender if s/he participates in it, and then decides to
Educating self. This stage of response includes taking action to learn more about LGBT people, heterosexism and homophobia. These actions can include reading books attending workshops, talking to others, joining organizations, and listening to lesbian or gay music, or any other actions that can increase awareness and knowledge. This stage is also a prerequisite for the last three stages. All three involve interactions with others about homophobia and heterosexism. In order to do this confidently and comfortably, people need to first learn more.
Questioning and Dialoguing. This stage of response is an attempt to begin educating others about homophobia and heterosexism. These stages go beyond interrupting homophobic and heterosexist interactions to engage people in dialogue about these issues. Through the use of questions, and dialogue, this response attempts to help others increase their awareness of and knowledge about homophobia and heterosexism.
Supporting and Encouraging. This stage of response includes actions that support and encourage the anti-homophobic and anti-heterosexist actions of others. Overcoming the homophobia that keeps people from interrupting this form of oppression even when they are offended by it is difficult. Supporting and encouraging others who are able to take this risk is an important part of reinforcing anti-homophobic and anti-heterosexist behavior.
Initiating and Preventing.
This stage of response
includes actions that actively anticipate and identify homophobic
institutionalized practices or individual actions and work to change
them. Examples include teachers changing a “Family Life” curriculum that
is homophobic or heterosexist, or counselors’ inviting a speaker to come
and discuss how homophobia can affect counselor-client interactions.
HONORING LGBT ALLIES
Remembering the Early Pioneers
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.
TIPS FROM GLAAD
--Be a listener.
--Be willing to talk.
--Be inclusive and invite LGBT 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.
--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 LGBT friends against discrimination.
--Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.
--If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact glaad.org.
FIGHT FOR EQUAL RIGHTS
A L G B T I C A L Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama