In the wake of the terrible incidents which have continued to plague our community, and with this being the annual allies issue, I thought it appropriate to speak about being an ally. My thoughts still go out to the victims of Orlando, and recently I have been pondering the definition of an “ally.” Are they someone who is removed from your community, but yet still chooses to support you? Can allies be found within the same community?
Traditional definitions tend to remind us of the “allied forces in WWI and WWII,” which is in harmony with the thoughts I have had in regard to other communities coming to support the LGBTQ community. I am reminded of the Orlando vigil here in SLC, and the words spoken by Lt. Governor Spencer Cox. Although this elected official does not define himself as part of our community, he speaks words which I believe should be echoed throughout SLC’s history; “You have treated me with the kindness, dignity, and respect — the love — that I very often did not deserve,” he said. “And it has made me love you.”
Moving along with my thoughts, I often wonder if we can be allies among our own communities. Another definition of “ally” defines it as “any person, group, or nation that is associated with another or others for some common cause or purpose.” This makes me smile, because I am right. We are internal allies — one to another. But, within my adventure through the dictionary, I found that ally can also be a verb, an action. To truly be an ally (a noun) one must partake in the action to ally (a verb). As with all things of meaning in life, you must take action to make a change.
The action of being an “ally” requires “a person, group or nation that is associated with another or others for some common cause or purpose.” Believe that issues related to oppression are everyone’s concern, not just the concern of those who are the targets of oppression. Although we are all part of the community, it still requires us to feel empathy and understand that the struggle is not uniform across our numbers. Making mistakes is part of learning any process. The key is to acknowledge and apologize for mistakes; learn from them, but do not retreat.
Without making too many references to WWI and WWII, I want to remind each of you, that in order to end those wars, it required the countries to band together. I will not say that our own war is not on the same scale, but I will say that it requires each of us to be an ally and band together to win. We have come so far in our fight for equality, and the ground we have won is precious. So, as you think about “ally,” remember, ally is a verb — actions are more powerful than words. We win our wars with love. And that is all we need.