The power of LGBTIQA+ allyship—it’s about impact not intention | HerCanberra

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The power of LGBTIQA+ allyship—it’s about impact not intention

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True LGBTIQA+ allyship doesn’t just benefit LGBTIQA+ communities; it benefits everyone. And true allyship is about impact rather than intention.

Many people are well-intentioned, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to meaningful change. So what does it take to be an ally with impact? Let’s take a look.

An ally is any person who actively promotes and aspires to advance a culture of inclusion through intentional, positive, and conscious efforts that benefit society as a whole.

Because privilege is intersectional, anyone can be an ally. White women can be allies to people of colour, men can be allies to women, cis-gendered people to members of the LGBTIQA+ community, able-bodied people to those with varying abilities, economically privileged people to those who are not—and so the list goes on.

In any minority group, acting as your own advocate can be exhausting. Beyond that, messages can sometimes get lost in their delivery.

For example, pride march and Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations are rooted in two main objectives: radical queer liberation and fighting back against the various forces that want to erase or exterminate queer lives.

So in their most rebellious form, our community’s celebrations are also protests that challenge the way society thinks about sex and gender. Even while we’re dancing, we’re fighting.

Allyship with impact encourages thought and self-reflection. It’s about working alongside our community members no matter our differences, seeking greater understanding, empathising, and importantly, standing up for those who are oppressed and being strong when others are struggling.

This is a million miles away from the idea of ‘equality’. And please don’t say ‘tolerance’—a word that makes my blood boil. The concept of merely tolerating others is antiquated and harmful, and it’s time we moved past it.

Allies have the courage to stand up and be counted. And when they do this, it really makes an impact. When allies stand up, the wider community can’t simply dismiss the calls of LGBTIQA+ communities as merely the musings of a down-trodden few or those ‘radical queers’. An ally with impact acts like a mirror. Gentle at times yet often uncompromising, they can reflect truths around equity, inclusion, and LGBTIQA+ communities to those in the dark.

So, being a good LGBTIQA+ ally isn’t just about slapping a rainbow sticker on your car or flying the rainbow flag, it’s about amplifying queer life experiences.

Good LGBTIQA+ allies understand how to lift up all queer voices—black queer voices, queer sex workers’ voices, marginalised trans people’s voices—they champion them all. Queer voices and identities are richly diverse, and an ally sees this and celebrates it.

To be an ally with impact, it’s important to understand how LGBTIQA+ people’s gender identity and sexuality exist in relation to other social issues.

An ally with impact understands and differentiates between sex, gender, and sexuality as well as the relationship between society and biology in formations of gender identity.

All of us are born with a defined (or variation) of sex at birth, but gender is a social construct. Allies with impact understand the roles that homophobia and heterosexism play in society, and they actively question the dominant gender schema and how it influences social perceptions of sex and gender.

In the end, being a good queer ally starts with stepping back and listening to the people you want to help. LGBTIQA+ people know best how to liberate themselves. By truly centring LGBTIQA+ voices, non-queer folks can provide a form of allyship that is much more radical than even the queerest of street parades.

Showing up when asked—whether to testify against conversion therapy or to bring awareness to issues faced by queer refugees—is the kind of support that has the power to promote real, lasting change. More recently a great example of allyship in action is Dan Andrews or Kerry O’Brien’s on Australia Day this year.

Allies with impact vehemently protect human rights on all levels, and we are fortunate to have them in our corner.

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