When I worked at the LGBT+ youth group, there was also a straight guy who volunteered with me – he was there early every day the group was on, he stayed late, he’d talk to people in private if they had a problem they didn’t want the group to know about, he’d offer help and support, he’d help link people with other services, he never once had a single complaint against him, like, I really can’t express how much everybody in the group adored this guy. You think he didn’t make gay jokes? We all made gay jokes, even him. People jokingly listed celebrities that they’d sleep with who were of a gender/sex that they weren’t typically attracted to, as did he. He wasn’t sat there worrying that he was going to offend us, because he was our friend, he knew us, he knew we respected him and he respected us in return.
Being an “ally” isn’t about following a rule book of things you are and aren’t allowed to say – it’s about treating people as equals, respecting people, helping people, and just being a good person. Like you said, be decent, compassionate and understanding.
Honestly though, I don’t really think of them as “allies” because… like, idk… it just sounds divisive. It makes it sound like we’re a faction fighting a war and they’re a faction that defected from the enemy and sided with us, but they’re not really our people. It’s weird cause they are our people, they’re people we live our day to day lives with, they’re not some separate group that we’ve signed a treaty with and who we can impose rules upon, they’re our parents, our siblings, our friends, our children, our families, our teachers…
There’s this trend of trying to make allies out to be the real homophobes based on really obscure and harmless stuff, and attacking them more fervently than people attack actual homophobes. Maybe it’s cause the allies will actually get hurt by that, will actually listen to it, so it’s more of a power trip than attacking someone who gives zero shits; or maybe it’s because allies are the only straight people that these people even come across on a regular basis because of the communities online and irl that they frequent, I don’t know. But either way, it’s like they’re stomping on a smoldering leaf while there’s a block of flats aflame behind them.
I have been, for around the last year or so, observing and bemoaning the politics of divisiveness that has sprung up the last ~5 years.
And there is a part of me that wants to call them all out but if i’ve learned anything is that it is social suicide. If you dare to suggest that dividing folks up further and further in the name of pride in your own identity or culture, should be considered harmful, then you are declared “problematic”, a supporter of the oppressors and of the status quo.
But what these same people don’t realise, is by declaring them an ‘enemy of your culture that can only see victory in eliminating the other’, then we are consigned to a constant cycle of war. By definition there will always be a ‘minority’ and a ‘majority’. If one of the definitions of victory is the defeat of this enemy, then you have to define defeat here. And if that means “killing them” then in the end you’re just creating a new minority to be oppressed. You may believe they “deserve it” but really noone deserves it.
People should be focused on changing minds and hearts, and screaming down and attempting to silence those who disagree will never get anyone ‘there’. It only effectively guarantees an escalation of hostilities on all sides until real class war breaks out and people are killing eachother in the streets. People might think this to be an extreme projection of events, but think about it, people are already moving towards it. Both sides, escalate their hostilities endlessly and eventually, full war is going to be the last step left.
The only way that we can know true equality and true peace as a *world*, is for both sides in these political conflicts to desire to end the cycle of oppression and violence. There can’t be a continuing loop of the oppressor becoming the oppressed and vice versa, forever, or this is what we will have, forever.