June is Pride Month, a month so dedicated in honor of the now 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in which the LGBTQI+ Community fought against police and others who were constantly raiding and shutting their establishments down and frequently arresting, and worse, people of their community. The word Pride is used to shake off the stigma that one should be ashamed in any way of their sexuality.
Myself, I'm an ally, a friend, and supporter of those of the LGBTQI+ community. I have family, friends, and co-workers who all belong to the greater community and I have chosen support them and more accurately, just be a friend.
Why am I an ally?
1. The world said so
Religion says to love thy neighbor. There are no stipulations put on who that neighbor is or has to be. Grade school taught me to treat others the way I'd like to be treated. My parents taught me to respect other people. We have laws on the books that protect citizens from hate crimes. The world says to treat people like people and yet some choose not to do the very thing they tell and demand others to do and expect that only they should be treated with any decency. One does not have to agree with someone's so called "lifestyle" in order to treat them with respect. You can disagree with someone all day, every day or how they live their life and still not actively choose to disrespect them by bullying them or committing violence toward them.
2. I don't have or want to make time to hate
Do you know how much extra time and effort is required to hate someone? I'd have to wake up, go down to some store, buy some signs, come up with some hatred slogans, go out and stand in the heat or the cold and yell at people I don't even know about something they've not done to me. Either that or spend hours as a keyboard warrior apparently blogging to people who most definitely aren't reading what I'm writing. I work A LOT so to then spend what little extra time I have on useless hatred that isn't going to make anyone less gay who already is seems like a complete waste. On my death bed, I don't want to be remembered as a homophobe. Who's life goal should that be really? There is no group that has done nothing to me or mine that I care enough about to take away from my time spent with friends and family to do all that.
3. I know what it's like to be bullied
I was bullied as a teen and it made every day of my life practically unbearable. If it weren't for the few good friends I had in my life at the time, things could have taken a horrible turn. For some in the community, it's that one friend or family member or their new created family that is all they have and are the only people who love them and keep them going. The world can be filled with people who refuse to let you live and be who you are. I'm lucky that my torment ended when I left middle school, but for others, to have to carry that burden around their whole life for being what they are that they can't change, can be extremely rough. Many have chosen to end their lives to end that pain. I want to be a reason for someone to keep going as opposed to the reason they see no reason to if it comes down to that.
4. Understanding unconditional love
In the early 90's, my cousin died due to complications with AIDS. Believe it or not, he was one of the lucky ones to not have to die alone, shoved aside in some quarantined hospital ward or disavowed by his family. I have a lot of family members who are deeply religious and go to churches or went to churches who spoke of gay people as being evil or deserving of such a fate---those same family members, however they felt inside, came when he called on his death bed. They surrounded him with love, reminded him of happier times, held him as he wept, and fought for his partner to be able to be by his side at his funeral at a church where they had to lie and say his partner was a friend and that he died of pneumonia because their family church would not burry anyone with AIDS in their cemetery. So many died with no one to care for them and people and family treating them like nothing. You don't go through something like that and see how others are badly treated, or how a church could turn away a grieving loved one, let alone the dead, and come out of it thinking that that's okay or the right thing to do.
5. We're not yet all free
If you want to speak of privilege, here we are. In a world where everyone is scrambling to get something and somewhere in this life, I don't feel like its okay that only a certain subset of people should have the right to personal protection from discrimination or abuse. I'm a citizen of this world---we all are---- and I shouldn't just fight for five seconds for only what I need and want, and allow others to be trampled and forgotten in the process. My friends stand besides me when I'm hurting or need help or need defending no matter who they are or what they represent, and to then go and turn my back on them is not what I call the definition of being a friend or a humane person. We're not yet free until we all have the freedom to be treated as human beings and under the law, as just people who love, hurt, have families, get married, have children, and want many of the same things out of life.
This is a part of my story. We're all different. I hope if you're not already, that maybe you too could become an ally. If not, if you feel like you can never in your life approve of the LGBTQI+ community, I obviously cannot force you to love or like someone and treat them as you would a friend, however, going back to the respect thing---you can disagree with someone and still treat them with respect. You make the choice to treat others the way you do and that has nothing to do with what others have done to you if they've never actually done or said anything to you in a hurtful or disrespectful manner.
If you want more info on being an ally, check out the HRC: https://www.hrc.org/blog/how-to-be-an-lgbt-ally