Allies : Men in the Feminist Movement, Whites in Civil Rights Movement, and Straights in Gay Rights Movement

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

When I watched and read coverage of the 50 year anniversary of the march on Washington, I kept seeing the white faces in the crowd in 1963 and thinking about the role of the ally in a moment like that. The role of that person who has the advantages and doesn’t need to fight but is there regardless. The role of the man fighting for women’s rights or the white person for rights for people of color or the straight person for gay rights. The role of the person who has chosen to be an ally.

An ally can’t be the voice of a movement- but that doesn’t mean that allies are insignificant. They say with their presence “this isn’t a minority struggle, this is a human struggle.” They say to politicians when you treat a minority- be it people of color, women, gay people.. – badly that your electoral consequences will not be restricted to the group you mistreated. Rather the consequences will reverberate through people of conscious.

It’s about unity. It is about people standing together as brothers and sisters in humanity. And it is about a fight that can be best fought when people choose to work together for equality and rights.

An ally needs to be able to acknowledge the trials and tribulations people are going through which by luck of your gender or race or sexual orientation you happen to not have to endure. You have to be able to say “I can’t possibly fully understand that struggle but I know shit is messed up and something must be done.”

And you need to work hard to make sure people who are going through the struggle can voice it. Whether you are a male ally to women’s rights or a white ally towards civil rights or a straight ally towards gay rights, one of the most important things you can do is fight to make sure that woman, that person of color, that gay person, that that person has a chance to share their experience. A chance to give a voice to the difficulties they have been through.

Macklemore- a  vocal straight ally for gay rights- says in his song Same Love “No freedom til we’re equal.” This is the ultimate sentiment of an ally. The idea that without meaningful equality across lines of race, religion, sexual orientation and gender- without that real and palpable equality- then freedom itself is dead and meaningless. For everyone.

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