By: Andrew Kelly
LGBTQ community today are fortunate to live in a culture that is more tolerant of LGBTQ (or at least the LG) than ever before. However, with this newfound widespread acceptance along with the rise of “slacktivism”, or shallow, social media based activism, it’s important to point out that many who profess themselves to be allies of the LGBTQ community are more often than not just fairweather friends, or in some cases, subtle opponents who actively seek to set back the course of our movement.
In this new era of enlightenment and tolerance, it’s easy to not see the forest for the trees and think that our work to ensure equality for every Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning/Queer is over. After all, according to Gallup, a record 64 percent of Americans are okay with same-sex marriage, and there are approximately 100 members in the congressional LGBTQ caucus. However, with this new era of societal acceptance, there have been an increasing amount of “fairweather friends” who want to proclaim themselves as allies, but easily abandon the cause. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve heard relatives, friends, and peers alike say “I’m fine with the gays, as long as they don’t shove it down my throat”. If having gay relationships shown on TV or baking a cake for a gay couple is having it shoved down your throat, then I’d like to see what these neanderthals would call the LGBTQ community constantly seeing heterosexual relationships displayed everywhere in the public sphere since birth? Come on, stop lying. It’s not that you “just don’t like seeing PDA”–it’s just that the thought of seeing 2 guys or gals kissing still makes you all icky deep down.
This wouldn’t be so rude and bigoted if it wasn’t for the fact that many of the same people who espouse the rhetoric seen above are many of the same people who put rainbow flags over their facebook profile pictures after the “Obergefell” decision and always remind everyone that “I have gay friends” when people call them out on their thinly-veiled bigotry. These people wanting to have their cake and eat it too by reaping the societal benefits of being seen as “progressive” and “accepting” while at the same time wishing that the LGBTQ community as a whole were erased from the public sphere. And don’t even get me started on the people who proclaim themselves “LGBTQ Allies” who also voted for Donald Trump, a man who has, among other egregious offenses against the LGBTQ community, fired all ranking members of the White House AIDS committee and whose administration removed any mention of the LGBTQ community from the 2020 Census?
But my problem with so called “LGBTQ Allies” doesn’t stop here. Indeed, there are a lot of so called liberals and progressives who are more than happy to trample all over the livelihoods of people who are LGBTQ if it means furthering other parts of their agenda. Indeed, even iconic progressives such as Vermont senator and 2016 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders have said that the Democratic Party should stop focusing on what he calls “identity politics”. And while there is something to be said for getting back to economic issues, the fact that Sanders and many of his “bro-gressive” followers are more than happy to push ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ community under the rug is worrying.
But the bigotry towards the LGBTQ community by supposedly “liberal” people doesn’t end here. Many gay men have stories of straight women going to gay bars and nightclubs in an attempt to get them to go to their bachelorette party to prove how “progressive” they are, reducing gay men to little more than trendy token items for well-to-do liberal women to point to and show how tolerant and accepting they are. And then there’s also the problem of supposedly “progressive” straight men going to lesbian clubs in a futile attempt to “turn them straight”. I have no issue if straight women or men want to go to a gay or lesbian centered space, however, have respect for the patrons if you do go. And if you view gay men and lesbian women as token items or sex objects, please don’t embarrass the many legitimate straight allies who have put it all on the line to ensure that the LGBTQ community can live lives equal to those of their straight counterparts.
Before I end this article, I want to say that, while there are many who wrongly call themselves “allies” of the LGBTQ community, there are just as many brave straight men and women who have fought tooth and nail to pass things like civil unions, same sex marriage, and, at the state level, anti-discrimination ordinances. And they deserve to be commended for that. But it must be said that if you’re “fine” with gay and lesbian people as long as they’re comfortably erased from the public sphere, you’re not an LGBTQ ally. If you voted for Donald Trump, you’re not an LGBTQ ally. If you’re “progressive”, but rant and rave about the perils of “identity politics”, you’re not an LGBTQ ally. And, if you view the LGBTQ community as fashionable token items or sex objects, then you most certainly not an LGBTQ ally, no matter who you voted for in 2016.