What Does It Mean To Be An Ally?

Yesterday we all woke up reeling to the horrific news about the worst mass shooting in US history. Yesterday I mourned, cursed, and cried. Today I continue to mourn but am also wondering what it means to be an ally.

I haven’t changed my Facebook profile picture. I haven’t posted my feelings about this tragedy. I haven’t publicly offered my sympathy to the victims or their families. No one directly impacted will read my status so who would I be offering those thoughts to? Would it just be to make myself feel better? Would it be a token of solidarity to my LGBTQ friends or would it be another example of someone in a privileged group co-opting a cause? And if I say nothing does that give the impression that I don’t care? Does that impression matter in the grand scheme of things?

As much as I want my LGBTQ friends to know that I understand how horrific and frightening this is what I really want to express is that I *know* this isn’t about me or how *I* feel. I am an ally but that doesn’t just mean that I speak out for the rights of others. It also means, sometimes more importantly, that I listen. I listen to my LGBTQ friends and their families. I listen to the stories of the victims. I listen to leaders in the equality movement and *their* suggestions for what I can do to be a true ally. This group does not need another straight, white, cis woman, who has never questioned which bathroom to use or if it’s safe to hold her partner’s hand in public, to speak on their behalf. There are plenty of people already speaking for themselves if we only listen.

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