Allyship is great, every community needs to know that there are people on the outside who care about them and stand with them. Being an ally is about the noblest thing you can do, but there are so many ways to get it wrong. So, I’m offering a crash course; just how do you be the Ally the queer community needs?
Don’t Speak Over Us
We need you to amplify our voices not place yours first. A huge part of being an ally is listening to us and spreading our message. When you speak over us, you’re not helping us you’re shutting us up. You’re saying you know more about our needs and our struggles than we do. Speak less and listen more.
Don’t Tell Us How to Avoid Homophobia
Nigeria is pretty much the most homophobic country in the world; we know this, we face homophobia every day. Don’t try to tell us what to do to avoid homophobia. Your intentions may be good, but there’s nothing we can do to avoid violence and discrimination based on our sexuality. We can’t be less vocal, we can’t try to pass for straight, we cannot go back into the closet. We cannot get the change we want by hiding away; we get it by saying, here we are, this is us; by putting faces to the stories of queer people.
Stand Up For Us
What do you do when you witness homophobia? Allyship isn’t sending out tweets and treating your gay friends like human beings, it’s standing up for us when we need it. So when you’re in a group and people are being homophobic, call them out and correct them. When you see a gay person being harassed, speak up for them. Don’t just sit there quietly, do something.
Don’t Out Us
I hate that I have to add this part, don’t out queer people, it’s all shades of wrong. When we trust you with our identity, we’re trusting you with our lives, don’t jeopardise it. Don’t reference our sexuality in conversations with other people, don’t casually bring it up in public, don’t talk about it with other people even if you think those people should know. It’s not your place, it’s not your story to tell. The decision to come out is a big one, and it’s not one you should make for us.
Get Our Pronouns Right
When trans or non-binary people tell you their pronouns, don’t mix them up. It doesn’t matter that you’ve known them as another gender their whole lives, call them by their correct pronouns. I cannot stress this enough. When you continuously misgender them, you’re telling them you don’t care and they’re not real. Don’t misgender them to their faces, don’t misgender them with other people. Always use the correct pronouns.
Create a More Inclusive World for Us
Creating a more inclusive world starts with how you speak. Normalise introducing yourself with your pronouns. Normalise having your pronouns in your bio. Normalise saying S/O or partner instead of bf/gf. Normalise saying “people with uteruses” when talking about issues that affect people with uteruses. Normalise doing away with standards of masculinity and femininity. denormalise heteronormativity.
Finally, to be the ally we need, be just that, an ally. Understand that although you support us, you’re not one of us. You may try to see things our way, but you can’t see them through our eyes. You need to listen to us and follow us; trust that we know what’s best for us.