what it really means to be an ally

There’s a common misconception in the LGBTQ community that our
friends are our allies. But this is not always the case. As an
OUTSpoken trainer,
making sure that parents and their friends understand what it truly
takes to be an ally is one of my top priorities. The LGBTQ family
movement needs allies. Allies are active participants in our
struggles. They support us. They motivate us. They stand up and

But the line between friend and ally is not always clear for
people. So let’s have a discussion. Consider the following
scenarios and tell me–who’s being an ally and who’s being a

Scenario #1 — The child of an LGBTQ parent is bullied at

Sam, a straight parent, gets a call from her friend Marcus.
Marcus is a gay dad with one child, Grey. Marcus is tearful; he
says, “Sam, the worst thing’s happened. Grey was cornered today.
Some kids said his fag dad made him a fag, too. He doesn’t even
know what the word means, but he knows it’s bad and he won’t come
out of his room. The teacher ignored it. What do I do?” Sam drives
to Marcus’s house, makes coffee, lends an ear. Marcus is thinking
about going to the principal but is afraid he won’t be taken
seriously because he’s gay. He asks Sam to go with him for support.
She considers this, says, “Why don’t we wait and see if it happens
again. If it happens again, we’ll both go, okay?” “Okay,” says
Marcus, “okay.”

Scenario #2 — The state legislature is passing a gay
adoption ban

High school buddies Shana and Diane now live on opposite sides
of the state they grew up in–Shana near the coast, Diane near the
capital. Shana is a foster parent and is transgender. She is just
weeks away from legally adopting her foster child Robbie, who’s
been with her for years. Robbie wants nothing more than to call his
current home, his current mom, home and mom forever. And Diane
can’t wait to become Robbie’s godparent–they’ve all gone through
so much together. But this year, their state legislature is
dangerously close to passing a bill that would prohibit all LGBTQ
people from adopting. Shana is terrified, but can’t make the trip
to the statehouse to lobby against it. She asks Diane, “Please, can
you go? We need as many people there as we can get.” Diane is torn.
She makes up her mind:  “Shana, you know I love you, but you know
politics just isn’t for me. I’ll do anything for you–I just can’t
get involved in all that.” She calls Shana every day for a week, to
make sure she’s okay.

Scenario #3 — An anti-LGBTQ family e-mail is circulated
around the office

For being so young, Byron has made a lot of older gay and
lesbian friends, many of whom are parents. Byron is also gay, but
has no kids. He works for what he considers to be a tolerant
company. One day he gets an all-staff e-mail, a forward from Jean,
one of the more conservative members of the team. Jean is
commenting on an article she’s just read about the White House Egg
Roll, in which LGBTQ families participated as a group. “You all
know I don’t have anything against gay people,” she writes, “but I
just have to say that they should not be parents. It’s bad for
children, it’s just not right.” Byron knows that the staff looks to
him as the go-to guy on gay issues. He thinks, “Is it even worth it
to say anything back? It’s just Jean being Jean. They all know
that.” None of his parent-friends will know that he let this pass,
but his fellow staff members will. He leaves work early and takes
Jesse and Lee’s kids for ice cream.

So, who here is being an ally? Who’s being a friend? What actions
make these characters just friends or both? If you don’t see allies
on this page, tell me why. What’s lacking here? Where did all the
allies go? 

Leave a comment below. Spark discussion. The only way we’re going
to work through these issues for ourselves is by digging in

For more information on what it means to be an ally, visit our