How To Be A Good Ally
This Pride month we’ve witnessed the parting of the gay red sea (don’t type that into xHamster) in response to Taylor Swift’s queer baiting lyrics and music video to her latest release. On one side of the Great Taylor Swift Ethics Debate are those who argue that her video is pandering, problematic and performative; on the other are those claiming that this visibility and celebration at the hands of an ally is excellent for the gay agenda and gay rights at large, with many citing the presence of numerous queer celebrity icons in the video as a community-wide stamp of approval.
All this speculation really boils down to a central, eternal question: what actually makes a good ally? At the apex of Pride Month, the (all LGBTQ+) Boshemia team figured it was a good time to consider this question ourselves. Here are our thoughts.
1. Be An Authentic Ally
Performative Allyship Not Welcome (Get Political - Stonewall Was A Riot)
Q: Wild concept: be an ally all year, not just June.
L: Wholehearted agree. Allyship for me is really about authentic, basic respect and support, and is shown through action. People love to talk the talk and wear the looks and collect their woke points for being seen with us, but will stay silent when it comes to rights being stripped away or withheld, or fighting for basic recognition. It’s a very elaborate and reductive kind of fetishism to come in and enjoy queer culture free-of-charge - it totally ignores how intrinsically political queer identity is, and has always been. Queer people don’t get to take off all the Pride gear and slot back into an existence which is designed by and for people like them.
E: I think something key to being a good ally is understanding the origins of Pride and the historical and cultural significance of the protest itself. It’s fun and games to be an ally when you don’t know the political protest aspects that are a part of queer identity. Kind of like L just said, it’s not all Fab Five fangirling and pop music. 😅
Q: To be fair to Taylor, donating money and sharing petitions etc is good allyship, but don't do a whole song and dance about it (GET IT BECAUSE SHE’S A SINGER)
E: I’d like to see more proactive allyship, like direct political action. Oh you like the gays so much? Why don’t you lobby for our right to adopt children in more US states? Or to literally decriminalise our identity in your country? Ugh.
L: Yeah exactly - if you consider yourself an ally show up to the rallies and protests and vigils, not just the gay bar and drag shows. Advocate for us, and do it because you genuinely care about us, not because you want to prove to the world what a Good Person you are.
2. Know It’s Not About You
Shut Up and Listen
J: For me it’s about people knowing when to shut up and listen.
Q: Exactly - be quiet! Don't centre your stories (be it online Twitter critics or whatever) over LGBTQ+ stories and don't compare them. By doing so you're minimising queer struggles and silencing queer stories. Listen to what people are saying and learn from it. Like actually listen, properly.
R: I totally agree. I think straight people at Pride events should be seen and not heard. Like you’re there for your pals if you’ve been invited in, but it’s best behaviour time! I don’t mean literally not heard, but y’know. Again it’s about not centering yourself. This event isn’t for you, and we’ve invited you into our space. Respect it, and us. The rest of the world is aaaaall for you.
C: Right? Acknowledging your privilege is an important part of it. Also if you have a platform, use it to promote actual marginalised voices rather than what you think marginalised voices sound like in your own voice.
A: yeah being seen and not heard is pretty much where I stand! It goes for any kind of allyship. Know when to shut up and direct people to the voices in the communities you're supposed to be allied to.
E: Also, controversial opinion but I don’t like straights at pride events. Generally I feel so weird about Allyship™, like in my personal experience it’s been a lot of empty posturing and trying to re-centre the narrative on straights and how good they are at tolerance. Especially since at the moment in American pop culture it’s Cool to be Gay (but not actually gay), so it’s a whole bit.
3. It’s Not Our Job To Make You Fabulous
Don’t Expect Us to Be Your Fairy-Gay-Mother
Q: Some straight people have a skewed idea that if they show up to pride events and be an ally then The Gays will improve their life. I think Queer Eye and that drag wedding show and stuff like that have perpetuated a mythical gay trope that in exchange for basic acceptance, The Gays will give you a makeover and a pep talk and hashtag FIERCE. We're not here to do your nails, Linda.
C: We’re gays not the Fae.
R: Omg that is so true! There’s so much pressure to be fabulous and make other people fabulous by proxy! I’ve only got enough for me and I ain’t sharing Mandy!
Q: Again: gays are not 4 you. We're not here to boost your woke points, we're not here to hit on you, and we're not here to change your wardrobe. We're here for one thing only: to fuck (lol jk) (I know that's not true don't @ me)
R: Omg gays r so promiscuous teehee (ugh)
4. Learn The Important Things Yourself:
Do Your Homework
Don’t Expect Us To Be Your Queer Encyclopedia
R: For me a huge part of being a great ally is about asking the individual what they need from you and making sure they feel seen and heard. But it’s essential not to make your queer friends do unnecessary emotional labour, so educate yourself as much as poss and save your queries for the useful stuff. Never, I repeat, never play devil’s advocate. Ever. Also, make sure your questions are kind and sensitive and not likely to be triggering to the individual — this just requires a bit of common sense.
L: Absolutely second never ever ever ever playing devil’s advocate, that is NOT needed in any scenario. “Friendly debate” is also a no-go - spoiler alert, there is literally nothing “friendly” about debating or challenging somebody’s right to exist in the identity they feel comfortable in, even if it’s just to satisfy your curiosity. Hard no.
R: Another thing that for me is really challenging because allies do it all the time thinking they’re helping: don’t send me articles about anti-gay violence and hate. Like, how does that help me? I only want the good news ok.😅😅
E: Oh god yeah, it’s such a peacocking and performative thing to do, and also super negative! That shit gives me nightmares.
R: I mean it’s not like I don’t know I could get hate crimed! I don’t wanna think about that shit. Such peacocking.
E: Also I expect the rich & celebs to donate to things but without like “LOOK I DONATED TO A THING !!!!” Then again I guess it encourages other straight people to donate ???? Just don’t be performative about it.