People who consider themselves LGBTQ+ allies should show full support

I’d like to address the “straight allies” with today’s column.

Heterosexual friends, how much of an ally do each of you consider yourself to be? Do you support all equal rights under the law regardless of sexual orientation? Do you regard gay people as human beings deserving of equal treatment regardless of religious doctrine or personal moral code? Do you accept these things unconditionally?

If you do, great! This gay man thanks you for the support. I love you, too.

But for those who hesitated answering those three simple questions, I have news for you. You are not an ally. You are part of the problem.

For a sharp example, I wish to bring up the most hurtful words I have ever heard addressed to me or about me in my presence.

“This is my gay friend, Bryan.” “I’m so happy I have a gay friend.” “Everybody needs to have a gay friend!” Or some variation therein.

News flash: I am not an object. While the phrase seems innocuous and innocent, loving and playful even, it is in fact quite painful to be addressed as or referred to as a thing.

Putting the word “gay” in front of the word “friend” immediately puts a person into an absurd idea of being a collectible [this also applies to any distinctive quality of a person, i.e, black friend, Jewish friend, Muslim friend, amputee friend, etc.]

I am not a collectible. If I am your friend, it better be because of my friendship and not my sexuality.

And the second phrase I hear which threatens to make my ears bleed goes along the lines of: “I support such-and-such for gay people, but…”

Nothing you say after the “but” will be at all legitimate or justified. Because you don’t actually believe the first clause of what you’re trying to say. You’ve introduced a condition for people to have and maintain a right and therefore imply that you acknowledge there are moments when you would not allow a person to enjoy their rights.

Support for human rights or civil rights are not measured in degrees or percentages. You cannot support someone 75 percent.

You either do or you don’t. So, the only thing you should say on the matter is “I support such-and-such” or “I do not support such-and-such.” You cannot have it both ways.

If you consider yourself an ally of marginalized people of any sort, consider how strong your support is. Ask the important questions I stated before and monitor the language you use when discussing said topics. Don’t fall in the trap of calling people objects and don’t try to express your support through percentages.

And if any of this confuses you, go internal and consider just how well you understand the issues

at play.

Discover the point of ignorance and defeat it.

I wish I could say it’s just the thought that counts and perhaps I’m putting too much emphasis on semantics here. But that’s the thing. Words mean things.

Do you know what you mean when you say them?

Respond to Bryan at

[email protected]