Acceptance and Allyship are two different things, some people aren’t ready to be an Ally and it is not as simple as being an upstander or a bystander. So what is the difference and how can you show acceptance to LGBTQ individuals?
If you aren’t ready to make that leap to Allyship, let me be the first to tell you that that is okay. You don’t need to be waving your pride flag down the street to show acceptance. You don’t need to be fully versed in sexual orientations, identity, and pronouns. You don’t even have to know someone who is gay (though likelihood is, you do). You just need to be capable of showing kindness and being conscious of where that kindness is pointed.
This topic of acceptance weighs heavy on my heart. When I first came out I remember telling a person important in my life something to the effect of you can wear a façade of acceptance and be involved in my life OR you can continue to protest and in some ways berate me for being gay and be cut out of my life forever. At the time, this felt like such a powerful and protective move, but now I find myself doubting this person’s sincerity and acceptance. Now, I need honesty and acceptance rather than the doubt that comes when I wonder if my family, marriage and identity are shadowed in shame.
Think of the little ways you feel accepted by your peers, family, friends, colleagues. Some might seem shallow, but it doesn’t invalidate the importance it has on you or your perspective of that person. In my own life, I find myself analyzing why this person comments on everything, but not on a picture celebrating pride or my wife and I’s wedding/anniversary. I find myself questioning why Krystal is never introduced as “my wife” or why this person shares a plethora of social media posts of other young couples but excludes my spouse and I. These simple small actions can hold so much power and implication. Showing acceptance, observing your interactions with heterosexual couples and then with LGBTQ+ individuals and couples, educating yourself, and showing them they are loved and accepted is vital. As powerful as action can be, when it is fueled by the love acceptance implies it is unstoppable.
During PRIDE month you so often hear the promotion of Allies and no doubt they are crucial to the LGBTQ+ movement, but in my experience Acceptance is greater than Allyship. I have found strength in my own advocation and the Allies within my community. My therapist asked me recently, “What kind of relationships will you allow in your family?” and I don’t know the answer to that question yet. Honestly, I think that answer changes and evolves just like a family changes and grows together and as individuals. What I do know is that acceptance is not optional in the relationships I allow in my family. I do not need an Ally who is politically outspoken or always wearing rainbows (although this is always welcomed), on a personal level an act of acceptance and equality is so impactful. And other times it goes deeper than that and is a conversation no longer making that acceptance an implication but a reality.
I urge you to reach out to your LGBTQ+ friends, show your acceptance, because there is almost always that one person that has them doubting acceptance and although they may not need it, it certainly provides them comfort.
*I am so thankful for all those who are and continue to be Allies for the LGBTQ+ community. Please do not allow this piece to discredit or lack in appreciation for all that you have done to promote equality and love. You are valued beyond words.