What are straight allies? What do they look like? How do they act? And more importantly, how many are out there?
Everyone should be a straight ally. It is one of the most important roles in helping to combat homophobia. Straight allies can be co-workers, colleagues, supervisors, friends, family members, or other students. A straight ally is someone who is willing to stand up and be vocal when confronted with homo-negativity.
Homo-negativity is any negative attitude toward homosexuality (including emotional, moral, or intellectual disapproval). It might be someone saying “That’s so gay,” a homophobic slur or joke, it could be someone spreading an LGBT stereotype. Many people who identify as LGBT are still closeted and may feel uncomfortable addressing homo-negativity in fear of outing themselves. A straight ally who speaks up demonstrates that they won’t condone such comments, creating a more positive space.
It’s important that straight allies in schools and workplaces across Muskoka help bridge the gap between LGBT and straight individuals. We need to work together to dispel myths and stereotypes about each other and to build on our similarities rather than focusing on our differences.
An important part of being an ally is establishing ourselves within our social and professional circles as people who will not tolerate homo-negativity or homophobia in any form or under any circumstance. This is also, in many ways, the hardest part. It goes without saying that bringing up weighty issues can be awkward in social situations -- even more so, standing up to a colleague or a friend.
Two organizations that support straight allies are PFLAG and GSAs. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is an organization that works specifically to bring straight allies into the LGBT rights movement. A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is a student-run club that brings together LGBT and straight students to create a platform for activism to fight homophobia and transphobia.
Steps to being a Straight Ally (from PFLAG’s website www.straightforequality.org)
1. Stay informed – keep yourself informed about LGBT issues by asking or finding out through research.
2. Speak up – be the one to speak up if you hear a homophobic comment or joke.
3. Be honest – know what LGBT terms to use (spouse, partner, significant other, boyfriend, girlfriend) to describe a relationship and use them.
4. Support equality – voice your support for equality wherever you can.
5. Come out – that is, come out as a straight ally. Be the conversation-starter at work or in the community.
The next time you hear someone say “That’s so gay” or spread a stereotype about LGBT individuals, how will you respond?
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