We’ve seen your pictures at Pride. We saw your supportive retweets on Twitter. We know you love to sing Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” and tell yourself that you’re an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community.
I came out as gay my freshman year of high school. I had the ideal experience: my family and friends supported me, rarely did I face discrimination in my conservative high school and I was able to date who I wanted, free from the fears that other people face.
I’m eternally grateful for the allies in my life who have stood up for me and made sure I felt safe, loved and supported. My parents, my friends and my coworkers all ensure that my rights aren’t being entrenched upon. I thank them for that. The LGBTQIA+ community wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of those who don’t identify as members, but still show love and defend our rights.
But there is one thing that has bothered me about “allies” ever since I came out.
Many of those allies – the same friends who pledge their support for me and my community – date people who are homophobic. The girls that referred to me as their “gay best friend” dated someone who would laugh at homophobic jokes, like tweets with homophobic undertones or use offensive slurs that are still prevalent today. It’s those people that bother me; it’s hard to believe that they’re truly allies.
If I voiced my concern about this, they would most likely defend their partners’ actions. “They don’t really mean it,” they would say and wouldn’t do anything to stop their significant other from behaving inappropriately. Even if they did call their partner out, seldom would their partner’s political opinions change and those “allies” would probably continue to date them.
Some people say that they don’t feel the same way their partner does as moral justification and this bothers me as well. It’s not OK. It drives the homophobia that I still experience. It encourages and normalizes their behavior. If you want to really be an ally, you’d date someone who supports and loves the LGBTQIA+ community and someone you didn’t have to make excuses for.
Yes, to an extent, your partner’s opinions are reflective of them, not you, but your decision to remain dating them still reveals truths about your character.
I don’t believe homophobia will ever be truly eradicated from the earth; it’s naive to think that way. But it’s possible to believe that we can make a difference and help those around us feel supported and loved. You can do this by calling out your partner and encouraging them to be aware of their language, to watch what they retweet on Twitter and to support politicians who don’t think conversion therapy should still be a thing.
Break up with your homophobic partner. I’m not kidding. If you consider yourself a supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community, you can’t date someone who doesn’t share this support. I think it’s 100 percent acceptable to date people with other political views than your own, but I draw the line when your partner’s views harm the lives of other people.
An ally is a defendant of LGBTQIA+ rights. Defend those rights. Otherwise, you can’t call yourself an ally.