Gay Equality: Why Am I a Straight Ally?

Danny Thomas

By: Danny Thomas

when I was in high school there was a group of people…
I’m pretty sure it was a school sanctioned or even created group…
They were called Natural Helpers. I’m not sure where the name came from,
but the idea was that these were peer counselors…
these were people who were endorsed by the school as
having the ability to counsel those in need, those who had gone astray,
fellow students who were struggling with demons… internal or external.

The idea of this club was great. On paper it seems like a perfect idea…
If a kid is in a bad situation with an adult, it might be pretty tough to trust another grown-up; create a visible group of kids for that kid to go to… it’s a slam dunk.
And in some ways it was a great tool, I think there were probably a lot of people that were helped by Natural Helpers, naturally.

But…
In some ways, it ended up just being another exclusive clique…
This group of kids had things sorted…
They had GPA’s above a 3.0…
They were almost all active and involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities.
But, for those of us who were not Natural Helpers…
Especially those of us who thought we might be qualified…
It was yet another way that we were outsiders… others.
How backwards, what a sad and unforeseen outcome…
(if any of my old I.H.S. Natural Helper class mates are reading this – I am not holding a grudge… It wasn’t your fault.)

This is why I am a straight ally.

I’m a middle class, straight, white male… in America…
I’ve got it good.
But, I have known, in one way after another in my life, what it is like to be an “other”
but never in such a way as ingrained and over-arching as my sexual preference or gender identity.

I am a straight ally because I was born with the ability to empathize, and through my experiences of being outside “the norm”, that empathy has grown to a considerable compassion for people struggling with identity. And also for people who have a strong sense of themselves, but are struggling for recognition from society at large.

I am a straight ally because I have known and felt in my heart from an early age, early – that this struggle, the struggle for GLBQT acceptance is important, that, for some reason, I feel an amity with this group of outsiders… that in so many ways I am myself, queer.

I am a straight ally because I want my children to feel they and those they love have a place in this world.

My wife and I joke that we are both 49% gay – she loves The Indigo Girls and all the Lillith Fair music (I call it that to annoy her). I love dance, and musical theatre and Barbra Streisand, She maintains the car and mows the lawn, I cook and clean and arrange flowers… I have a crush on Johnny Depp, and she would kick me out of bed in a minute if Meryl Streep walked through the door. We challenge gender stereotypes… there must be some definition of the word queer that those characteristics qualify us for… I am a straight ally because I am 49% queer. I am a straight ally because I believe sexual identity, gender identity and sexual preference are things that happen on a continuum… that these things are not always black and white.

Here in Minnesota we just spoke out for equality and voted down a referendum that would’ve amended our state constitution. The amendment would have codified a policy of hate and bigotry… it was a move to shut down dialogue about equality for the GLBQT community. Thank Heavens it failed. I am pleased and proud.

I am a straight ally because I believe diversity and dialogue are not only good and fun, but also quintessential to a strong society and in particular a well functioning democracy.

The post Gay Equality: Why Am I a Straight Ally? appeared first on The Next Family.

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