DEAR ABBY: has outed herself as an ally. That’s right, that’s what I said. She outed herself. In response to a couple from Tampa’s complaints about the events surrounding their neighborhood Abby places herself quite firmly in the ally camp departing from her usual gentle demeanor opting for a more firm one. One Feb 19th that couple wrote:
“DEAR ABBY: My husband and I relocated to Florida a little over a year ago and were quickly welcomed into our new neighbors' social whirl. Two couples in the neighborhood are gay -- one male, one female. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host because we do not approve of their lifestyle choices. Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!
Abby, we moved here from a conservative community where people were pretty much the same. If people were "different," they apparently kept it to themselves. While I understand the phrase "when in Rome," I don't feel we should have to compromise our values just to win the approval of our neighbors. But really, who is the true bigot here? Would you like to weigh in? -- UNHAPPY IN TAMPA”
I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that someone would actually send this in. It is just FULL of contradictions! But really, we know that there are people out that that think like this and see the world this way so at this point it is not big surprise.
Abby said that she, "sure would" liked to respond, claiming that "a person's sexual orientation isn't a 'lifestyle choice'" and that gays are "born that way". I'm not really on the 'born that way' bandwagon, because I could care less if being queer is a choice, but props for quoting their inappropriate language! Abby goes on to point out that it is "interesting" how they are "unwilling to reciprocate the hospitality of the people who welcomed [them] and opened their homes to [them]" and are complaining when they receive "similar treatment." She goes on to tell them that they either need to move into a different neighborhood with people who are more like themselves or they need to use the opportunity of diversity in their lives to grow. Lastly, Abby tells the couple, "Please don't blow it."
So yeah, she outed herself. Can't you see the fundies (aka fundamentalist religious people who are anti LGBTQ ) sending in hate mail saying 'I've read Dear Abby for 35 years and I will now discontinued reading it because you love the gays!" The reason I am looking at the column as a coming out story is because of a comment I heard the other day from an ally. They mentioned that sometimes it's difficult to speak up and be an ally because of the fear of people assuming that you are LGBTQ identified as well and then start bullying or hurting them also.
That's sat with me for a while. I mean, what if Dear Abby: loses all of her readers? I know that typically the focus is on the LGBTQ identified individual, and it is true, at most of the trauma happens to the identified individual. But, I think if we are going to ‘make it’ so to speak, aka change the world, we queers are going to need our allies.
I guess I just never really thought about the fire one can come under when acting as an ally. Now that I think about it, White allies during the civil rights movement were called n***** lovers. It can be a dangerous to take the side of the oppressed.
I want to emphasize that I'm not trying to distract from the story or the experience at LGBTQ identified individuals, but simply highlight the reasons that we should give our allies guidance and tools to help and support, not just on a systematic level, but on an interpersonal level. This is not to say that I think it is the job of the LGBTQ community to provide all, nurturing our allies and doing EVERYTHING even know WE are the oppressed. But, I think that there is something valuable, in recognizing the struggles of those who are in solidarity with us.
I think of the LGBTQ identified and ally relationship as a solidarity relationship. Solidarities (political solidarity) are recognized connections between people that do not require similar experience for connection. The only really require a commitment to the beliefs and goals of the solidarity (it’s not just the commitment itself that's important, but the willingness to do actions and the like for the sake of the goals of the solidarity). Since I am in a solidarity relationship with my allies, I want to support that just as they support.
DEAR ABBY, thank you for putting yourself at risk for me.