What You Can Do to Become a Straight Ally

Perry Willig, Student Contributor

During September’s Pride Week, a friend and I went to the Drag Show, also appearing in drag to share in the moment of self expression. I identify as a straight male, but engage in drag because of its fashionable and diva-like qualities. I was very welcomed and well received by the attendees and artists at the show, something I am grateful for. However, before I attended the show, I wanted to know the gay community’s opinion on straight people doing drag, and activity usually associated with gay people.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the LGBTQ+ Question and Answer session as part of Pride Week. My main questions were about sentiments from the pride community on opinions of drag, but also the straight flag and how to be a good ally. I learned several things, many of which I did not expect.

During a discussion that followed one of the questions, one of the panelists said that at the end of the day, allies can only do so much. They will not have to go through the process of coming out to their parents, or be treated differently by society because allies are simply part of the majority. As much as they want to feel for transgender or gay, etc. populations, they will only be able to empathize and not participate in emotional solidarity with them. This is an unfortunate fact but one that is realistic. However, another participant in the discussion admitted the essential-ness of straight allies. They said that allies are still needed in the community, and that when the pride flag was taken down a couple weeks ago in Baker, several allies raised their voices to make sure that it was put back up.

Knowing this, I don’t think it is the job of the ally to say “I feel for you” when someone comes out as gay for example, and receives hateful comments, but rather to challenge those hateful comments and support their friends in other ways. Allies need to question our language usage and norms that are put on by a nation geared towards heterosexuality, because in the end you don’t need to be a transwoman to ask someone’s pronouns. I am not saying that an ally should not be there for their friend who is undergoing gender confirmation surgery or periods of transitioning, but know that unless that has happened to you, you will never fully understand what they are going through. In this case, I am assuming that this straight ally has not gone under gender confirmation surgery.

In an ideal world, our population will be filled with either LGBTQ+ members or straight allies so that we can co-exist in a new dynamic of no longer having to deal with gender assumptions. And we can help get there if we have straight people learn about the gay community, and do their part to make sure voices are heard and things are taken from the perspective of an LGBTQ+ person. It is not hard; we have the internet at our fingertips and friendships so that we can understand one another and enact our understandings in conversation and peaceful action. I do want to be clear in saying that there is nothing wrong with being straight, but there is something wrong with being quiet in the midst of homophobia and transphobia.

I really enjoyed the Q+A and I learned a lot from it, thank you PRISM for holding it.