Dear Allies

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Dear Allies.

We fucking love you. We really do. Sometimes we couldn’t exist without you. You are our parents and co-workers, our classmates and siblings, our friends and exes. And we rely on you.

But, seriously. Let’s talk about some things you do that give me the gay hives. We’re friends, but you’re not queer, so every now and then I need you to think about the things we don’t have in common and how that might affect our friendship.

Here are some things you need to know:

  • Watch your language. Being friends with a queer person doesn’t give you the right to use epithets that have historically been used to hurt us. You can’t call your gay husband a faggot. Even if he’s laughing, he most likely doesn’t think it’s funny but doesn’t want to make you uncomfortable. You don’t get to say tranny, ever. No one who identifies as a cisgender person does.

  • Don’t expect us to school you. Don’t know what cisgender means? Look it up. Do it right now. It’s not anyone’s job to educate you on the politics of gender or sexual identity.

  • Don’t approve of us. ("I just want you to know it’s totally ok with me if you’re a homosexual!") It’s not your place to deem it ok to be queer. We assume you want to be friends with us because we’re awesome, not because we’re queer and a) you’re trying to fill a quota or b) proving how liberal and free-thinking you are. You will not be awarded any queer cookies for that nonsense. (And let’s be honest: those are the best kind.)

  • Recognize your privilege. Stop saying that you’re not going to get married until all of the gays can. Rejecting your privilege doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And if you just don’t want to tie the knot, nut up and say so, you big chicken. Straight weddings are a special kind of hell for some straight people, but lots of times straight wedding employ gay florists, hairdressers, wedding planners, and cater waiters. And for all that is good and holy in the world, stop calling your boyfriend or girlfriend your “partner.” Unless you’re in business together, it doesn’t apply. For years, partner was the only real language we had to describe our commitment to the people we fell in love with. It was our word. Stop stealing our language. You’re boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife.

  • Seriously, recognize your privilege. You’re probably not uncomfortable being the only straight person in a group, but put yourself in the place of someone who identifies as queer, trans, or gender non-conforming. Locker rooms, showers, dressing rooms, bathrooms, and other places that are traditionally segregated by gender can be terrifying when you consider the overwhelming amount of harassment and violence trans/GNC folks suffer every year. Taking a pee break when you don’t know where non-gendered bathrooms are is about a lot more than fluid consumption.

  • Stop appropriating gay culture. (I recognize that gay white culture has been appropriating shit from communities of color and other marginalized populations forever. I’m not advocating that either. I think it’s a different conversation.) I am not "your gay." You do not own me. I am not your concierge into a bright, rainbow world to which you would not otherwise have access. We are not here to pick out your clothes, plan your wedding, fix your busted hair. We are not here to entertain you. Recognize how obnoxious it is to bring "your girls" out for cheap drinks at the gay bar. That space is not for you. I know you feel safe there. How awesome for you. Look around at all of the people you’re making feel unwelcome in a space designed for a community you don’t belong to.

  • Stop criticizing shit you don’t understand.
  • "I love my gay, but it is so gross when he kisses boys." You don’t love him. You love the one dimensional idea of a character you saw on Glee.

    "Drag queens are so funny, but I hate it when they use the women’s bathroom." People who play with gender get to piss in whichever line is shorter.

    "God, getting your pronouns right is so hard." If this is the hardest thing you do all day, you’re living a pretty precious life. Seriously: respect the identity of your friends or don’t be shocked when your friends phase you out of their lives.

    "I don’t see what the big deal is. I came out as a straight ally, and that was really hard for me, but you don’t see me complaining. Why don’t I get a straight history month?" I’m sure that you probably were the victim of so much ally bullying and violence. I bet your parents kicked you out of the house when they found out that you were an ally. Did you also learn about ally sex from porn because of the lack of discussion in sex ed? God. I hope you’ve never been fired from a job because you’re an ally. You know what, you’re right. Let’s please talk some more about YOUR brave struggle.

  • Stop asking about queer sex and body parts. When it becomes your business, we’ll let you know. Otherwise, I’d suggest that you do some internet research – with the caveat that you will encounter a lot of porn. Look for something more legit, and don’t assume that the things you see in porn are the norm. (But also, don’t assume that they’re not the norm. Everyone is different.)

I understand that hearing this is uncomfortable for you. Please don’t get defensive. This isn’t about making you feel shitty or alienated because of some offhanded comment. That’s not what this is about. It’s about establishing honest and real two way communication with one another. If I’m doing something that hurts you, I certainly want to know about it as well.

Thanks for reading this. I’m glad we’re friends.

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