I feel that for me, being an ally is really about being true to myself. When I was growing up all those around me assured me of the limitlessness of my potential; and I watched as other classmates, peers and neighbors received similar assurances. It is true that as children there is no limit to what we can become as our choices are unmade. However I believe we limit ourselves and our potential by not only the choices we make, but the feelings we maintain.
I think that in today's world where individuals are encouraged to “'be who you are,” “be true to yourself” and the general notion towards self-exploration and (implied) acceptance that many learn in public school is almost a Utopian ideal. The perfect society, the perfect world; really what is that like? I cannot say for certain but I believe I do know some things it is not like. It is not murder, it is not rape, it is not hate, it is not heterosexism, it is not fear of everything beyond your own comfort zone.
I feel that being an ally is almost like taking a step towards a better world. Let me be cliché for a moment and ask you what could the world be like with individuals seeking to understand others? What if instead of being afraid and backing away from challenges and differences we set our shoulders owned up to our fear and asked questions. Why do you prefer Dr. Pepper over Pepsi, or what makes you more comfortable with dogs than cats, and even larger ideas and beliefs. If one person can brave the new and the unknown, then the world could be better off for that one person’s ability to try. Hopeful and idealistic I know, but change must start small.
I want to be there for other people who are in need of a friend. If the only time I see you in this world is when the bus I’m on drives by, then I want to leave something good. A smile is better than a sob and the image of that woman on that bus may be in your head longer than either of us thinks, or just for a moment. Either way being a friend for a moment, for a day, for a week or for a life is what I want to be for my fellow humans. Being an ally is like promising friendship. As an ally I promise to listen to you if you need to talk, have a clean shoulder if you need to cry, take up that signature line or that banner. I am here. I am an ally.
Being an ally is really about making the choice to be open and stay willing to understand. Even if I don’t understand something, I’m willing to try and see the appeal. Even if I never understand, I do have the knowledge that it’s important to you and necessary for you and real. Just like the rest of the world, like every person has a story unique to their experience. My story is my own. What is yours?