Nothing gets LGBTQA members riled up more than the common claim that the claim that the “A” in LGBTQA stands for the word “ally.” It doesn’t, of course. The A stands for asexual/aromantic (having no sexual and/or romantic interest in anyone). While allies are important, we sometimes look at them with a “wannabe savior” point of view. So how can allies contribute without leaving the LGBTQA members feeling overshadowed and left out of their own movement?
To begin, I reached out to a few friends of mine that I know identify as LGBTQA. Here are two useful tips that they gave me:
- Seek out someone who identifies as queer and ask them to educate you.
- “Although a small group on Tumblr have given the impression that we don’t have time to teach you, most of us will jump on the chance to dive into our inner encyclopedia. We would much rather have you ask us for information than to make an assumption and spread misinformation about the community.”
- Remember that queer doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
- “The community is made up of people who come from all kinds of different backgrounds. As such, members of the community have developed their own understandings of this term.”
Now the question remains, how does one go about this?
Seeking out Someone to Educate You
There are all kinds of places you can start. Do what I did and ask your friends! Chances are, they’ll be glad you did. It will show them that you support them without making them feel left out of their own movement. There are also all kinds of online platforms on which you can seek information (yes, even Tumblr, not all of them bite). For example, this website is a thread-based forum where you can discuss anything related to the LGBTQA community.
These websites exist for a reason. The LGBTQA community yearns to spread their knowledge. When you give them the chance to do so, they appreciate it.
Remember that Personal Definitions of “Queer” Vary
The dictionary definition of queer is simply, “homosexual.” Many members of the LGBTQA community would say that it has become a blanket term, but on the other side, there are blogs dedicated to explaining why the term should not be used this way. As long as you don’t assume someone identifies as “queer” and nothing else, all should be good!
As my own little add-on to this, I will say that respect is of the utmost importance when looking to join a movement. You know the saying “treat others the way you want to be treated?” In communities like these, that’s the golden rule. Remember that, as a straight ally, you are not the one being discriminated against (in this case, of course; no one is discounting any other troubles you may face).
Despite progress, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states this year, there is still a long, long way to go before acceptance of the LGBTQA community truly prevails. Please support this community as respectfully, consciously, and consistently as you can.