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Thank You For Being A Friend

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Being an openly queer, non-binary filmmaker, I’m usually surrounded by generally “decent” humans. My professional life choices often make me meet and interact with a lot of heterosexual and cisgender people who primarily identify as “allies” of the LGBTQIA + community, and will make sure they let you know within the first few minutes ( sometimes just seconds) of your interaction with them that they fully support your sexuality and gender identity. I spend most of my life in situations where I am generally outnumbered by straight people, so I generally prefer them to see themselves as my “ally” rather than being part of the “Fuck Homo” squad. Please excuse my farsi.

To be honest, it’s good to know that they are (or want to be) on your side. I had a tough childhood – I grew up in the 90s in India, studied at a boys’ school, was bullied in college and first at work, then j ‘ve faced the heteronormative world. It feels good to know that now you have people supporting you. However, this is not always a good thing. Many people who see themselves as allies usually end up engaging in behaviors that can make queer people deeply uncomfortable, unwelcome, and sometimes invisible to us. Most of the time, it’s unintentional – straight and cisgender people would never understand what it’s like to be queer, and vice versa, and it usually creates a lot of blind spots that make even admirable allies behave. like fools, without realizing. So if you are someone who identifies as an ally of the LGBTQIA + community, thank you. Because tokenism is so exhausting and no one has time for it, here are a few ways you can really be and truly think of a wonderful ally.

DO NOT MINIMIZE OUR QUEERNESS

If I had a Kuwaiti dinar (1 KWD = 3.25 USD) for every time I heard a “well-meaning” friend say a version of “I don’t even consider you gay”, “You as human normal “,” You will always be gay if you walk straight “,” Can’t you wear pink shoes? “,” Can you behave normally? “, I would be richer than Elton John. Please understand: Every queer person relates and expresses their uniqueness differently. There is no rule book. Queerness is an ever-evolving spectrum. For some, it’s a song they don’t want to dance to, but could listen to over and over, as long as it’s played on their headphones. For me, it’s a full orchestra doing a Freddie Mercury X Madonna X Lady Gaga X Missy Elliot medley at maximum volume in my head at all times. Please don’t give the impression that our queerness is background noise. Our queerness is a massive part of our identities. Acknowledge our quirk. Give us the space to own it and celebrate it in the way that works best for us.

BE AWARE OF THE SPACE YOU TAKE

Many of us have grown up feeling like absolute outcasts. We had no space to be ourselves, without editing or incorporating the heteronormative understanding that was expected of us, so it’s great when heterosexual and cisgender people want to visit queer spaces to feel more connected to the community. But try to imagine what it would be like if, every time you went to a bar, groups of queer people would comment on how much they liked straight guys; how adorable you are all and how straight bars are such a blast and everyone is so exotic and cute. After awhile, you would be really bored. You would be tired of feeling new, of feeling different, when you are just trying to relax, flirt, or get fucked. We feel that too. Don’t take the opportunities that relate to queer people who have a platform to present their stories and experiences. Being openly queer has made me lose many work opportunities. Make room for us, not only in your personal worlds, but also professionally.

WE ARE LIKE YOU

Like all other human beings, we usually have flaws, some of us are hurt, some of us are mean too. We are confused and cranky for no rhyme or reason, some of us also suffer from episodes of insecurity and loneliness. We might not be like your favorite queer characters from your favorite TV shows. It’s okay to expect us to be like this, but don’t be disappointed when we fall short. Instead, take a moment to understand where and why this expectation stems from, and then let it go, like Elsa did in Frozen. While I think it’s really cool to have such a positive portrayal of queer characters, be aware that most of us might not be as impressive or likable as the queer characters you adore so much.

BE COMFORTABLE BE INCOMFORTABLE

There is no perfect ally, just like there are no perfect people. The goal is not to be perfect, but to create a world where we are all free. As you become more familiar with the queer community, you’ll make mistakes, it’s only natural to do so. Perhaps the best learning will come from these mistakes, how you deal with them, how to never repeat them and move on. Always ask people for their pronouns by letting them know your pronouns and how you would like to be treated – a very important act to avoid confusing queer folxes. It also helps let the folx know that you are open to advice and feedback because you are here to grow. Remember that the ally requires great patience. All you can do is do your best, and that’s enough.

ONLINE ACTIVISM IN REAL LIFE

As you use social media to open dialogues with potential allies by educating them, creating communities of support, and finding ways to unite marginalized groups who lack a support system, find ways to put this into practice in real life as well. The best way to encourage alliance is to simply start a conversation, which leads to dialogue for better understanding. If you hear or see anything detrimental about the queer community, kindly point it out and take the opportunity to let them know how very dangerous it can be for someone who does not have the same privileges and platforms. Advocacy is an integral part of the alliance. However, in doing so, make sure you don’t obscure or interfere with a queer person’s right to speak on their behalf. Use your privileges to benefit the queer community

LISTEN

There is a huge and overwhelming job to be done until LGBTQ people – especially transgender people – are treated equally, not only under the law, but also in our societies. Some of the more difficult parts of belonging to the LGBTQIA + community usually exist outside the legal system – rejection of the family, harassment, internalized shame, degrading media portrayals and countless other stressors, both social and personal. As an ally, it’s crucial to listen to the queer people in your life, ask them how they’re doing, be aware that they may have been (and may still be going through) things you don’t understand. not. and offer your support when you can. Don’t be a therapist or counselor. But listen. Keeping your heart open and an eye on your queer friends after the end of Pride Month, queer hashtags are no longer in fashion, when no one has a rainbow flag on their profile pictures or their office matters more than you think. Ultimately, the alliance is about taking small, progressive steps that will help us come together and build a more inclusive world and realize that elusive dream of equality.

Faraz Ansari is an internationally award-winning filmmaker and storyteller. Ansari directed Sisak, India’s first LGBTQ silent love story.

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