It’s not about me.
This can sometimes be a difficult awareness to digest at times. In my existence, I always matter. With my level of privilege, my needs, thoughts, feelings, and voice all matter. While this is important for me to know, it is also important for me to know when to willingly put aside my needs, thoughts, feelings and voice and open up space for others. This is how I think about my role as an ally of my friends and family under the LGBTQIA umbrella. (LGTQIA = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual.) Some people think “A” is also for “ally.” Allies do not need to be part of the acronym because we do not need recognition or validity as worthy of equal rights. Regardless of how committed we are to the cause, we do not have the same skin in the game. It is not about us. Folks who are asexual, however, have had to fight for recognition as a valid sexual orientation for a long time.
Pride is a great time for LGBTQIA visibility, and it is an opportunity for allies to show their love and support for those under the LGBTQIA umbrella. It is a time of celebration, and there are tons of fun events and activities to celebrate authenticity and community for people who have had to hide for so much of history. Parades, parties, festivals and drag shows are a few of the events that bring people together.
Pride is also a time of acknowledging and challenging systemic oppression. LGBTQIA folks have a long history of being discriminated against and marginalized that continues to this day. Sometimes we lose sight of the efforts and sacrifices made by LGBTQIA activists in our past, and our current struggle gets lost in the rainbows and glitter of Pride parades and parties. As allies, it is important for us to fully understand what Pride is for, both the joys and the challenges.
It is important for allies to realize that allyship is more than putting a rainbow flag in our yards or showing up to a drag show during Pride month. LGBTQIA people need those of us with cisgender/heterosexual privilege now more than ever to take actual steps to end the state-sanctioned discrimination and bigotry that has taken aim at queer and trans children and adults. Over the last few years we have seen a tidal wave of bills across the country aimed at chipping away at the rights of LGBTQIA folks’ rights. In NC alone we have seen attempts at trans erasure with the HB2 “Bathroom Bill,” forcing trans adolescent athletes to play on sports teams that are opposite their gender identity, and giving healthcare workers the right to withhold medical care to transgender folks on the basis of “religious beliefs.” In the last few weeks, there is another attempt by the NC General Assembly to discriminate against trans adolescents through their version of Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It would require teachers and school administrators to notify parents if they hears a child express any gender/orientation preferences other than cisgender and heterosexual. Essentially, this bill would force teachers to “out” kids to their parents, which in many cases could be dangerous and may challenge the safety of adolescents who are already at a much higher risk of homelessness and are more likely to attempt suicide than their cis/het classmates. Those who are most affected by these legislative attempts are also the ones who are already marginalized.
Here is your call to action. Enjoy Pride events. Join the party and celebrate the amazing people who are under the umbrella. Wear the t-shirt with the rainbow flag on it. Then go and contact your elected officials about your opposition to anti-LGBTQIA legislation. Vote for candidates who truly believe in justice. Fight to make your schools and workplaces more inclusive. Educate yourself about the history of LGBTQIA people and movements throughout history. Intervene when you witness homophobia or transphobia happening. Raise children who are free to be themselves and who understand, respect and appreciate sexual and gender diversity. Give money to organizations that work toward justice for LGBTQIA. Do the work of allyship so that we can all have something to celebrate.
— Dr. Krista Nabar, PsyD, LP, HSPP
Dr. Nabar is the Executive Director of Carolina Sexual Wellness Center. She is a Licensed Psychologist and Health Services Provider in Psychology in North Carolina and a Certified Sex Therapist by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). To learn more about Carolina Sexual Wellness Center’s services, please call our office at 919-297-8322.