Welcome to week 4.
Happy Eid to all of our Muslim brothers and sisters!
Ramadan ended last night, and today is the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, which means ‘festival to break the fast’. It will continue until Tuesday, June 27th at sundown.
And if you’re (also) part of the LGBTQ community in Toronto, it’s Pride Sunday.
A = Action
Allyship is not just about your perspective and beliefs, it’s putting those into action in a way that supports the group you are allied with. In this case, because it’s Pride month in Toronto, I’m focusing on LGBTQ communities, but it could be any marginalized group.
What does action look like?
When you think of allyship in action, some scenes may come to mind:
- Being vocal at city, provincial/state or federal announcements or decisions related to the group you are supporting: asking questions, bringing up issues, challenging decisions that negatively impact LGBTQ people
- Advocating for LGBTQ recognition and rights at local organizations
You have likely thought of many more. The point is that often when we think of being an ally, it’s vocal, public and charged. It’s about speaking up and standing up for LGBTQ visibility, recognition, and rights.
Speak up & Stand up
Speaking up and standing up are ally-related actions, and they are very important.
They help people, organizations, and governments to see, acknowledge and understand the ways LGBTQ people are marginalized (consciously and unconsciously) and provide the opportunity for change. This is needed in a world where heterosexual and cisgender privilege inform laws, policy, procedures, and decisions. Speaking up and standing up raise awareness, and as we have previously discussed, ally voices and presence are important because they are often more likely to be seen, heard and taken seriously than people who identify as LGBTQ advocating for themselves.
Speaking up and standing up can also be crucial to ensuring someone’s safety (in the moment or otherwise) and interrupting a potential dangerous and scary situation. They are important actions, and recognizing your privilege (and that can be very useful in situations like this) as well as learning will help you to be more effective in when and how you speak up and stand up.
Shut up and Back up
However, there is a quieter side to allyship that is just as important – sometimes moreso. Action also includes shutting up and backing up. These are not as obvious, but they can be more powerful. They can also be much harder, and require more vigilance of yourself – rather than the people you are hoping to help become more aware (remember an ally’s audience is not the group they are supporting, but the dominant group – in this case straight and cisgender people). And you’ve likely noticed that they are the opposite of speaking up and standing up. Recognizing your privilege and learning are also important to knowing when and how to shut up and back up.
Shutting up means using your privilege to create space for LGBTQ people to speak up, so their voices and stories can be heard. But it also means being in conversation with LGBTQ people and listening more than you speak. Being open to learning by hearing the concerns, fears, hopes and dreams of those you are supporting.
Similarly, backing up is about using your privilege to create space for LGBTQ people to show up, so their presence is felt and seen. It also means not being in the forefront when you are together, and it implies supporting from behind.
Speaking up, standing up, shutting up and backing up are all crucial ally actions.
Knowing when to do what is just as important.
Next week, we’ll cover the last letter in ROAR – the second R.