An Ally, also referred to as a Straight Ally, is a heterosexual “cisgender” person who is concerned and compassionate to the plight of the LGBTQ community wherein fighting for their equal rights and fair treatment is aligned. Cisgender is a term that has been around for the past three decades but has gained more visibility in recent years as an increasing number of articles, TV shows and films have featured a wider range of genders and sexualities. A “cis” person’s gender corresponds with the sex they are assigned at birth. For example, someone who is biologically female and identifies as female. Where as a heterosexual person is attracted to and romantically involved with someone of the opposite sex as themselves. The two terms are not synonymous, someone who is cisgender is not necessarily heterosexual.
In various LGBTQ social movements allies recognize the discrimination, prejudice and economic disadvantages that are a reality in our society—which predominantly considers heterosexuality and birth gender identity to be the standard or “normal.” This oppressive societal standard is known as “heteronormativity.” Such a narrow mindset can create an environment that breeds homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Straight Allies will advocate against these attitudes by aligning themselves with LGBTQ activism, but an ally can also be defined as somebody who is absolutely accepting of LGBTQ persons.
Someone who is an ally is often a family member or a close friend who has witnessed the injustice of discrimination first-hand. Being exposed to injustice can inspire those who consider themselves allies to take action and raise their voices to be heard. Allies are important to the LGBTQ community as an example that solidarity, love and friendship can and does reach across all walks of life. When discussing civil rights, it will be important moving forward, to realize that the LGBTQ community, heterosexual and cisgender people, along with every other sense of identity, can all be part of a larger inclusive community: the human community.
We are all living in turbulent times. If we continue to generally focus on the differences that divide us—rather than the similarities that unite us—we will only stir more conflict. By embracing each person without questioning gender or sexual orientation, race or religion, abilities, disabilities or economic status, we will be a part of making our society a more safe and friendly place for all people to cohabitate. Only time will tell if the people of the world will decide to come together or suffer alone.
Fortunately, tolerance and acceptance are concepts that are now being embraced early on in life. Organizations like the Gay-Straight Alliance, which are student-run clubs in middle schools and high schools, gather young people in a safe space where gender identity and sexual orientation can be openly discussed and support with issues spawned from homophobia and transphobia is readily available.
Recent victories for LGBTQ rights, as well as heart-wrenching tragedies, have placed LGBTQ concerns in the forefront of our social consciousness. Fair treatment, equality and respect seem to be focus topics of the relevant conversations. This is one of the civil rights movements of this generation. History will remember the struggles and breakthroughs of these years. There are vast opportunities for the LGBTQ population and their Straight Allies to do what is right. Every voice is essential in the groundwork necessary for laying a foundation for better conditions and a brighter future for the generations to come.