Being an Ally

Although a large part of Open Doors' mission is to create a supportive environment for GLBTQ students, we pride ourselves in our ability to include our straight allies in the process. One of the biggest misconceptions of Open Doors is that we are a "gay club." We try to create programming and events that accommodate a wide range of personalities and appeal to our straight supporters. It is not surprising that the boundaries between straight and gay are blurring and this is becoming an easier task.

Sometimes it is surprising that anyone would want to be an ally with all the hate and persecution that can be delivered to GLBTQ people. Allies support their GLBTQ friends and relatives for a number of reasons. Being around someone who is different can help that person learn more about themselves and the world around them. IHere are a few reasons from our allies about why they are supportive:

"I grew up in a homophobic culture, personally reinforced by the inappropriate actions of a sexual predator who happened to be a gay cleric. It has taken me many years to separate the unfortunate behavior of one from the integrity and goodness of so many.

"I have learned that being and doing are not coincident. We have no choice as to who we are. We do have a choice regarding our behavior. My personal goal as an ally is to help our community distinguish between being and doing and to have the courage to accept who we are and take personal responsibility for what we do."

"I believe that every man and women, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation or class deserves respect and the opportunity to chose how they will live their lives, as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others. My beliefs/values are meaningless, if they are not exemplified in my words and/or actions."

"I am an ally because I feel the GLBT cause is the same cause of people everywhere who face persecution, harassment, or prejudices every day. I truly believe that we all are faced with these issues at different points in our lives and working to eliminate the ignorance that they stem from is something we all should take an active part in. Being an ally is just one way of doing this."

"My reasoning for being a straight ally for the GLBT community is because I feel that all citizens are created equal. I have met homosexuals that would tell me stories of discrimination that broke my heart. I am an African American women, I know what discrimination feels like. I feel that no one should have to feel like they do not deserve the same rights as anyone else."

Four Basic Levels of Becoming an Ally

  1. Awareness: Explore how you are different from and similar to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Gain this awareness through talking with GLBT people, attending workshops and self-examination.
  2. Knowledge/Education: Begin to understand policies, laws and practices and how they affect GLBT people. Educate yourself on the many communities and cultures of GLBT people.
  3. Skills: This is an area that is difficult for many people. You must learn to take your awareness and knowledge and communicate it to others. You can acquire these skills by attending workshops, role playing with friends or peers, and developing support connections.
  4. Action: This is the most important and frightening step. Despite the fears, action is the only way to effect change in the society as a whole.

How to take action in your everyday life as an Ally:

  • Don't assume that everyone is heterosexual.
  • Avoid using terms such as "boyfriend" and "girlfriend;" instead, try using "partner" or "spouse."
  • Review your office's publications. Suggest changes to remove non-inclusive language.
  • Acquaint yourself with people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Learn about the culture that is unique to the GLBT community. Read books, make a friend, attend a lecture, or celebrate with them.
  • Avoid homophobic remarks, jokes and statements. As you feel comfortable, confront these actions of hatred.
  • Create an atmosphere of acceptance in your surrounding environment through education. Share your experiences with others.
  • Provide informed referrals by learning the resources to GLBT people in the West Central Ohio community and share this information.
  • Learn the developmental process of coming out that is unique to the GLBT experience.
  • Join with GLBT persons to protect their civil rights and constitutional freedoms.
  • If you have identified your affectional feelings as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, consider coming out to others and work to provide a role model for students, faculty and staff.