We see the news about Orlando and we feel helpless. We feel scared of the world our children are growing up in. My family and I took took it very hard because we were planning to go to Pride festivities that morning and the reality of our vulnerability was shocking. The reactions of many people in my life was to tell me not go as a family to the Pride festival as planned that day or to tell me after the fact that they wish I hadn’t gone because they are so worried. A few close people were horrified for my stepson’s safety when they saw video of him dancing in a skirt at the parade. Many of my straight ally friends decided not to go to Pride festivals as planned. That is exactly what hateful bigot terrorists want. They want us to stop being ourselves, to stop celebrating and they want you to be too scared to support us.
There were allies killed in Orlando including Yilmary Rodriquez Solivan who was supporting her brother-in-law, and Brenda Lee Marquez McCool who was there supporting one of her 11 children. There was tremendous risk in supporting Queer people at Stonewall in 1969 and apparently there is still risk in being an ally.
On my own social media my queer friends were grieving and still are. Some straight friends have shown solidarity by posting articles and thoughts. But there was something missing, and I was having a hard time processing what I was feeling, let alone putting it into words – until I received this message:
I suddenly realized 4 very intense things:
A) I desperately wanted my straight friends to reach out.
B) I would be really perturbed if they reached out without also first being OUT as an ally publicly.
C) I would need to actually TELL people what I expected from them as a true ally because there was a combo out there of general ignorance about allyship as well as the paralyzing grief the comes with a mass shooting and the reality of living in a country where we could all be shot to death any time.
D) I expect my allies to risk everything to do what is right for progress and to support and protect others. Especially to be OUT as an ally for queer and gender-queer identifying children and children like mine who could be targeted simply for having same-sex parents.
My Old Friend posted my words on her Facebook page and let me know that she had just quit a job at a religious institution which did not fit with her values. Years before we had spoken of her leaving a church known for its misogyny and homophobia. Incredibly hard decisions and I am very proud of her. While incremental, both political and spiritual progress can help make important change.
And then I saw this twitter posting and it did sum up what was wrong on my social media and in some of my friendships:
I searched around and found at least 10 religious-identified friends Catholic, Christian and Jewish who had always been supportive of me and LGBTQ love to my face but had never done so on their very active social media or in social settings I have attended with them.
This is not to essentialize religious people. I am religious myself. But I have begun to notice that there are some close people in my life who are religious and in private conversation seem to have a rift between their internal, heartfelt values and their religious home. So I want to send this reminder:
If your religion or church or temple dogma does not sit right with your heart and if they have not come out for LOVE, there are plenty of other places to love and commune with God that align more closely to your heart’s values.
Here is a list of LGBTQ affirming religious affiliations that includes sections of Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism and more! http://www.gaychurch.org/affirming-denominations/
Keep going. Keep thinking. Keep changing. Keep learning. Keep asking.
Please come OUT as an ally to LGBTQ people publicly.
You will have to come OUT again and again. (We queers have to do it daily – and those of us with kids find we have to do it more frequently than ever before).
Then reach out privately to see how hour queer friends are doing.
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