What is a straight ally?
A straight ally is someone who is cisgender or heterosexual that recognises the discrimination experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community. A straight ally is not part of the community but supports LGBTQIA+ causes and social movements and fights for the world to become a more inclusive place.
There has been significant progress towards gender and sexual equality over the last number of years across the world. But just like anybody in the LGBTQIA+ community, straight allies know that there is still a lot to achieve. They use their privelege and voice to amplify marginalised voices within the community and in their own community to help achieve even more change.
A straight ally is not a gatekeeper to the LGBTQIA+ world and their role is not to define any aspect of their experiences or decide which identities are valid or invalid. They do however actively challenge discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community such as biphobia, transphobia and homophobia.
What is true allyship?
True allyship occurs when someone stands up for members of another group by actively supporting them via openness and advocacy. Allies make a conscious effort to listen and learn and use their privileged position to uplift others. Importantly, they seek information about the challenges experiences by members of different communities through their own learning and research. True allies do not rely on members within marginalised communities to educate them.
True allies are open to being challenged, having difficult conversations about inclusive behaviours and accepting criticisms with grace. Allyship is most effective when it is a two-way street, meaning that everyone recognises the value and mutual benefit in the relationship. These relationships as allies are built over time through small interactions like having lunch, seeking advice or socialising together. Small acts like these build openness, trust and connection which allows everyone to minimise fears of offending one another.
What are the types of allies?
1. Allies for self-interest
This allyship focuses on the injustice experienced by people they know, for example, men who attribute their interest in LGBTQIA+ equality to the people in their lives like a gay or bisexual daughter or sister. In this case, their advocacy is personal as opposed to systemic.
2. Allies for altruism
In this type of allyship, the ally is aware of injustices experienced by some groups but may not be aware of their own role in perpetuating inequality. They may see themselves as a hero that wants to save people but becomes defensive if their own behaviour is called out. An example of this may be a white person who identifies as an ally to people of colour and understands racism from an intellectual standpoint but becomes defensive when a person of colour points out an inappropriate term that they use in meetings or with colleagues.
3. Allies for social justice
This form of allyship moves beyond individual action to direct attention to oppressive social systems. These allies work together with people in a marginalised community and continually learn how to be a better ally. An example of this may be a straight manager who seeks feedback from his colleagues, viewing the feedback as positive since it challenges his worldview and reduces the likelihood of perpetuating racism and/or sexism as well as holding him accountable to colleagues from marginalised groups.
A straight ally is a cisgender or heterosexual person that recognises the discrimination experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community. True allyship means being open to challenges, having difficult conversations about inclusive behaviours and accepting criticisms with grace. It's important to consider the different kinds of allyship and to distinguish between those allies that are performative versus those who are authentic in their allyship.
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