In this Centric Commemorates, we’re celebrating Pride month. Shael McDonald shares her story about being an ally and her involvement in the LGBTQ community.
Everyone has their reasons for being an ally. For me, it is my love and concern for LGBTQ friends, co-workers, students and my son and son-in-law.
It’s the secrets kept in the late 90s to protect friends fearing termination of employment solely based on the knowledge of their relationship. I got to witness their long overdue, legally-recognized marriage in 2013. And most recently, celebrate their retirement and 30th anniversary. And it is always listening, understanding, supporting, calling out injustices, marching and choosing where to give and spend my money.
Others at Centric express the importance of allyship after witnessing their LGBTQ family or friends suffer discrimination, prejudices, fear or harassment.
For Abby Cooley, it was a realization while in high school that her best friends were treated differently from her, and she could not understand why at the time. Through those experiences, she realized the need to offer more than friendship. She wanted to provide support and create positive changes around her. Abby joined Centric’s Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) to continue to learn how to be a better ally.
For Deb Peluso, it was watching friends in committed same-sex relationships wonder if their rights as partners or as parents would be threatened should something unexpected happen to them – an injury, an illness or even a death. The potential of an unforeseen tragedy inflicting even more pain upon her friends simply for being themselves and living their own lives in peace seemed unbearable.
Wendy Erwin shares, “Being an ally is understanding that love is love and family is who you make it to be. The amazing humans in this safe space have saved me from myself countless times and from a world where indifference is the norm and connections are the exception. This community is comprised of free spirits, deep souls and beautiful beings across the entire spectrum of what it means to be human, and I will always cherish, represent and celebrate you!”
As a member of the PRIDE@Centric ERG, I am joining many others to celebrate Pride month. There are countless opportunities to celebrate, advocate, and support LGBTQ people within your community and workplace. Celebrations include parades, picnics, workshops, concerts and so much more. There are also marches to advocate for equal rights and ending discrimination, memorials for those affected or lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and goals to prevent the rising LGBTQ youth homelessness.
Why We Celebrate
The Pride community uses celebrations to bring awareness to the progress we’ve made and the growth we strive toward. With awareness can come education, advocacy and change.
We saw great success on June 26, 2015, with marriage equality when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states and required all states to honor out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses. However, there is plenty of work to do, as not every state has adoption rights or equal employment rights for LGBTQ+ persons, and in recent years, there has been a sharp increase in youth homelessness.
According to Chapin Hall, an independent policy research center at the University of Chicago, “LGBTQ youth are among the most at-risk sub populations for homelessness. Young adults (18-25) who identify as LGBTQ experienced homelessness at more than twice the rate of their non-LGBTQ peers. Black LGBTQ youth, especially young men, had the highest rates of homelessness.”
Allies can be powerful voices for LGBTQ equality, helping others to understand the importance of inclusion and fairness for all people. An ally is one who has a genuine concern for the well-being of LGBTQ people and who supports, accepts, and advocates for LGBTQ equal rights and fair treatment.
To learn more about how you can be an ally and part of a movement for change, here are a few steps you can take:
- Research, read, educate yourself – Lambda Literary has supported LGBTQ books and authors for over 30 years believing that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer literature is “fundamental to the preservation of our culture and that LGBTQ lives are affirmed when our stories are written, published and read.” Check out The Lambda Literary Review, which offers over 4,000 free book reviews, interviews, and industry news.
- Speak up and speak out when you hear something offensive and encourage others to do the same – 10 Ways to Be an Ally & a Friend | GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)
- Support policies (work, school, community, government, etc.) that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination – Being an Ally to LGBT People | Youth Engaged 4 Change
- Listen – Allyship (gaycenter.org)
- Advocate and donate – The Trevor Project | For Young LGBTQ Lives
Through these stories, we’ll seek to learn, understand, and empathize. We’ll celebrate our differences and realize that though we have varied backgrounds and perspectives, we are one team.