This is a part of our ongoing advice series, That’s What S(He) Said. Today, meet Sorivel, our newest social issue writer, and find out what it means to be a not only good, but meaningful, ally.
Hi! Before we get into all this allyship goodness I should probably introduce myself. I’m Sorivel, I live in New York City and I am a very queer, pansexual woman. Within the past two years I have come to terms with my sexuality and this past year specifically have jumped headfirst into everything lgbtqia+. And I’d love to share some of my knowledge on how to be a good ally with you.
Knowing the basics is definitely helpful; but not nearly enough. Most people have a hard time connecting with anything lgbtqia+ because it has no personal connection to them, and in this world that goes for a lot of things. So the first step to being an ally is to disconnect yourself from the issue at hand, and remember that just because you can’t personally relate doesn’t mean that you can’t help your queer siblings! Allyship is about educating yourself so you can make our experiences in this world (which can be very rejecting), better than how they are now. Learn about pronouns and what it means to be not only gay but pansexual, asexual, aromantic, nonbinary, trans etc. Language (which seems insignificant) and how you talk about queer people is very important and it’s the first step in this beautiful journey.
An important thing to keep in mind is that you can use whatever privilege you have to your queer siblings advantage. What I mean by this is that if you are a cisgender person the world encourages your experience as the norm and you can use that to let other cisgender people know about the mistreatment and rejection of the lgbtqia+ people. Because chances are that they’ll value your words more than a queer persons. Another kind of privilege can be race: historically, white individuals are taken exponentially more serious than those of color and other marginalized groups. As a white individual your words hold a lot of value to different groups so if this applies to you, use it positively!
Being straight passing and cis passing are privileges that even people in the lgbtqia+ community can possess. Some might not see that as a privilege but I think it 100% is, it makes your queer experience easier because those who don’t “agree” with your true self can’t tell that you’re queer unless you tell them. Therefore, you deal with less backlash and bullshit than those who are physically flamboyant or have queer mannerisms and forms of expression. This comes into play when you think about trans people. Take those who present more as what they identify as or are not “clockable,” meaning able to be easily checked, for instance. A trans female who looks very “feminine” (non binary people are under the trans umbrella by the way, just an fyi) are less likely to have acts of violence or verbal attacks committed against them.
I’ll give you one more tip while you’re here although I could go on for eons, there's an infinite amount of ways to join us! I’m sure I’ll write more about this topic in the future. The last one I will leave you with is to get to know your queer siblings. Personally speaking I was always passionate about this but I didn’t truly become an ally until I started getting to know more queer people, going to drag shows, following queer people on social media and getting to know more about my friends experiences with their sexualities. Human connection is the most essential part of all of this. It makes it that much more real. It’s easy to become desensitized to all the monstrosities that are happening to us. Looking in the eyes of these beautiful people, listening to their stories, hearing their voices, hugging them….that’s what makes the difference. It lets them know, hey I’m here, you’re here we are here together in this space and time. It’s easy to retweet lgbtq friendly posts and have it stop there. And as a queer ally that’s your biggest mistake. You have to care beyond that. Beyond the death drops, beyond Drag Race, beyond the makeup and wigs.
Us queer people are these colorful, beautiful human beings but we are not props or here for your entertainment. We need affection, reassurance, love and acceptance like everyone else- if not more. We need you to care when it’s pretty but also when it’s dark and vile.
We need you.