It has been almost two weeks since the results of the elections and you can say that so many of us are still processing and trying to figure out what our lives will now mean since that evil man carrot is now in office. For folks who share intersectional identities (Black AND/Queer AND/ Poor AND), conversations of progress and support are more salient then they ever have been before and should be safe to say that many are scared as fuck.
From safety pins to post it notes, everyone (specifically white cis identified individuals) have felt the need to voice their support for marginalized individuals. For me, specifically being a Black queer man, I can appreciate the sentiments and I must say that I find them to be very necessary in times where many of us are being held together by a safety pin and a prayer. But for some, safety pins and post-it note messages are not enough.
In a closed space that I often facilitate with local LGBTQ youth, one person made a comment that they are tired of just hearing folks say that they are an ally. This young genius went on to share that now, more than ever, they wish that folks who actually DO support LGBTQ people of color would actively work to protect them to make them feel a bit more valued and supported.
So what can folks do to go beyond the word ally?
Noun vs. Verbs. One must remember that there is a difference between using the word "ally" as a noun versus using the word as a verb. When you say, "I am an ally", that's great. Bravo. You rep for me. But what I really need you to do as is use the word as a verb.
March for me. Call people in/out. Let folks know how painful it is to know that I don't feel safe or regarded in a space. I know that I was recently invited to an event this past weekend and the first thing I thought to myself was whether or not I would feel safe or valued at the event. Turns out, when I saw pictures, I was SO glad I did not go because there were no other Black queer people at said event.
This my friends, is where being an ally for Queer people of color requires you to do more. Being vigilant and cognitive about my lack of visibility in spaces means more to me than hearing you are an ally. It is showing me how much you value me, my life and my kinship and it helps me know who is in my corner as I fight the great war.
Privilege. Yes, I know that this word is thrown around more than it should be, but the reality is that being an ally requires you to actively check your privilege while holding others accountable for theirs as well. And this doesn't have to be overthought, it just means that as you are saying you are an ally, you understand how much using that word in itself affords you a privilege.
It not how you use the word, it is truly what you do with it.
The idea that queer people of color are "supported" means you are actively working to dismantle a structure that keeps queer people of color on the outside looking in.
Recently I went to an event where I was told there would be a great deal of white queer people. But the fact that my friend invited me to be there to start conversations with these individuals spoke volumes to me and how much he appreciated me as a queer Black man.
Don't be a part of the problem, be a problem solver. Yes. The queer community has a great deal of needs. Queer people of color have a great deal of needs. We all have a great deal of needs. But the moment you stop asking what the needs are, you become apart of the problem. Remember, most queer people are extremely resilient and can really take care of themselves. Having an ally is an added bonus because often times, folks are more willing to listen to someone in a position of privilege before they listen to those being effected by said injustice.
Remember: as an ally your words, your actions, you decisions carry weight. The queer people of color community struggles with visibility and honestly, we need your voice more than we need your presence.
Yes, feel free to stand in solidarity with us.
Feel free to march, yell and scream with us.
But we need you on the front lines. Remember, it's okay to say you are with the struggle, but ask yourself:
In what ways are you really helping to get rid of it?
For more ways to become a better ally, click here.