The AfterEllen.com Huddle: Advice For Male Allies

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If a well-meaning guy in your life (a friend, a co-worker, a family member) asked you what he could do to be a better ally, what advice would you give him?

Elaine Atwell: I always want to ask my male friends not to stop being an ally when they’re around their male friends. It’s one thing to nod along with me when I’m expressing my frustration with the patriarchy and another thing entirely to stand up to the boys’ club. Until it becomes unacceptable for guys to be misogynistic and homophobic when in each other’s company, we’ll still be locked out of a lot of important spaces and conversations.
 
Bridget McManus: Ask that they always vote for LGBT equality laws and laws that aid women’s rights. 
 
Daniela Costa: I’d say that the little things matter and they shouldn’t stop at me. For instance, you can’t really know if someone is gay or bisexual if they haven’t disclosed that to you, so if you’re going to make small talk about relationships, ask about a “partner” or ask them if they have a “girlfriend or boyfriend” or some variation on that. Ask this with genuine warmth. Even if the person doesn’t open up to you in the moment, they know you’re at least someone safe to talk to. 
 
Grace Chu: One word: listen. 
 
Anna Pulley: Yes to all of this, and to accept what people tell you about their sexuality. Especially for bisexuals, don’t question or disbelieve them (even if they’re young and might change their minds/labels later). Don’t assume anything about anyone, ever.
 
Miranda Meyer: 1. Speak not whereof you know not, or: stay in your lane. 2. Don’t assume that relationships between wlw are analogues for your relationships with women, or those of your bros. 
 
Chloe: Don’t tell me you’re a lesbian too or I’ll backhand you.
 
Lucy Hallowell: I want to second what Elaine said and add two easy things. 1) don’t assume everyone is straight. It really does make a huge difference if you ask about a boyfriend or girlfriend; and 2) don’t be weird when people answer “Yes, my wife/girlfriend/partner…” I don’t care if you have to practice your poker face in the mirror, but if we are at a party, and you make a shocked face, everyone around you will assume that is an okay response. It’s 2016, people being gay/lesbian/bisexual/queer should not be shocking. Fake it if you have to. (If you don’t know how to fake it, ask your girlfriend because I am sure she knows all about faking it. Heyo!) Oh! And don’t assume everyone has a mom and a dad. If you make my kids feel weird or bad for having two moms, I will rip your head off. 
 
Valerie Anne: Watch your language and your tone. If you meet a girl, and she says, “I’m a lesbian” your response should never be a sleazy, “Niiiice,” or a dismissive, “That’s okay.” Our sexuality is not for your entertainment, nor is it a challenge for you to overcome. Never say “That’s gay” when you mean “That’s stupid.” If you say “That’s gay” I expect to see you pointing to a rainbow colored unicorn on a date with a unicorn of the same sex. Don’t call someone a “dyke” because she—actually, never. Just don’t do it. Don’t assume anything about anyone’s sexuality. And to Elaine’s point, don’t let your friends do any of this either. 

 
I dunno, I guess it boils down to, “Don’t be a heteronormative, sexist asshole.” 

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