Guest Blog Post: Things I’ve Learned as I Grew Into an Ally

Editor’s Note: This week, I’ll be sharing guest blog post from folks who identify as allies and what that means to them.

Becky Willis of lil’ burghers 

My daughter was tucked up on the couch looking at photos with one of my female (lesbian) friends. She, only being 4, realized that another woman kept popping up in the photos (and that it was the same woman on the couch with them). Ari asked, “Who is that?” to which my friend replied, “my best friend”. That was enough for Ari to understand on some level that not everyone is the same and that’s cool with her.

Moments like this are why I am glad that I quickly learned that being an Ally is important and that Greg and I need to raise our children to understand the importance of this, too.

As a kid, I was bullied for being fat, for being a preacher’s kid, for being the new kid. I never really found my niche, and cycled through table after table in high school, hoping to find someone who would stand up for me. Finding an ally, even as a straight person, was not easy. I can’t imagine how it had to be for the handful of gay kids who grew up in our small, self-centered town For those that were, I am sorry for not standing up for you then and I have learned so much since then.

In college, my world was different. I went to a women’s college and had many friends who identified with LGBT in one way or another. For some, it took awhile to come out (some even waited until we graduated, and I hate the fact that they might have feared how I’d take it). For others, they rocked it, and for that, I am thankful. They taught me how to live confidently, and even in moments of weaknesses, they taught me how important it was to stand back up again. But again, I don’t think I was a good ally as a college student. I was a friend, an acquaintance, a classmate. I wasn’t marching in PRIDE or taking part in Coming Out Week activities. I should have known better.

In the years post-college, I moved to the south…one of the hardest places to be LGBT (or even African American) yet today. After getting out of a bad relationship, I finally became an ally. The ladies who are some of my best friends (and now sister-in-law) were some of the most supportive people I’d ever met. They weren’t man haters. They opened my eyes to a world in which “hell, we all struggle, let’s kick back a drink, dust off our flip flops, and move on TOGETHER” was key. I would bring them to the bar with me and watch them get stared at and it wouldn’t phase them. It was life, and they knew they weren’t the ones with problems. We’d cap off the night with a a trip “to the gay bar” and I felt so comfortable there because everyone was just so loving!

It wasn’t just their support. It was the stories of their struggles, the lessons they learned as they overcame the world. The strength in which they are off being a lawyer in DC and working for the Peace Corps in Morocco, refusing to change who they are. They are the reason my family marched in this year’s PRIDE parade. They are why my kids understand they may one day have an aunt with a wife and that’s ok. They are why the kids will have an open mind and will learn to stand up for others, regardless of the differences.

Years ago, it was being black that got you in this country. Sure, Greg and I still battle with people who don’t understand interracial relationships, but the world is changing. I have to believe we’ll one day be there and that gay couples will be a common thing, when people will stop staring when they see two women holding hands or two men exchanging a kiss.

Friends, this world won’t happen if those of us who are straight stand back and let hate happen. Being an ally is one of the ways to stop this hate. Together, the LGBT community and the Allies can share the love knows no gender. ‘What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” is a lesson we all need to learn…are you ready to stand up for those you love and be an ally, too? Let’s stop the hate, stop the bullying, and start standing up for what’s right.

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