So I had this epiphany today (convenient I know). If I hope for more LGBT allies (especially of the prayin’ sort) it occurred to me that I ought to share a few suggestions for how to become an ally.
If you are a seasoned ally or just taking your first steps, I hope you will share your thoughts, struggles and celebrations from your own journey to becoming an ally. If you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person I hope you will share your own suggestions for how folks can be allies.
I hope these will help you on your journey.
1. Sit – You may not realize it or you may be in blissful denial but you likely know someone who is LGBT. LGBT folks are not just characters in gleeful musicals or sit coms about modern families – we are your sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, pastors, teachers, students, doctors, nurses, librarians and law makers – in other words we are your family and your Neighbor. Sit down for a while and think about the people in your life, what they add to your life and how you are called to be their friend and ally in a world that (more frequently than you may realize) relegates them to second class citizens, or worse, tells them again and again that they are worthless freaks to be fixed, shunned or even killed. Sit with this knowledge and know you can make a difference, you can even save lives.
2. Pray – Pray for courage to be vulnerable and the humility to be changed. Pray for eyes that can see, ears that can hear, a heart that can discern…
Gracious and loving God,
who was made known to us in the body of a babe,
born into poverty and despised by the state -
Our parent and brother
recognize the stranger as our kin.
listen attentively to our lives.
discern the murmuring of grace
planted by you in our hearts.
hear the the deep pain and soaring joy of others.
see our interdependence with others
to be your hands and feet in the world.
3. Invite -
Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart to do a new thing.
Invite new ideas to your table.
Invite a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender friend to lunch, dinner, out for drinks, or for a rousing round of mini-golf and ask them about themselves.
Invite yourself to be fully present.
Invite your neighbor into your heart.
4. Listen -
Listen to the stories of their life.
Listen deeply for places where their story might sound a bit like yours.
Listen for places where your stories intersect.
Listen for how their story is interwoven with God’s.
Listen to your heart.
5. Ask -
Ask yourself if you are willing to hear honest answers.
Ask a LGBT person if you can ask them questions that seem weird or uncomfortable – not because you want them to feel weird or uncomfortable or because you are hoping to trip them up but because you need to learn a few things (yes, that means you have to acknowledge a little bit of ignorance and fear but that is actually wise and courageous).
Ask real questions, not veiled, loaded questions that are meant to corner, cajole or convert.
Ask yourself if you learned something new.
6. Hug - God moves in the spaces between two people so create a loving space that welcomes the other intimately into your heart. Opening your arms is a great step toward opening your heart.
7. Read -
Read A LOT about being LGBT.
Read books, blogs that are written by gay folks.
Read books and blogs by allies.
Read authentic voices sharing true stories.
And read your holy texts. Read for all the ways God is calling us into compassion and justice. If you are a Christian and are reading the Bible, go ahead and count the number of scriptural references to justice and compassion as compared to the number of times homosexuality (as understood in a particular, historical culture) is mentioned. And Christians who are called to follow in the footsteps of that rabbi who fed the multitudes without asking for a dime, healed the sick (on the sabbath) without asking for insurance and died a criminal’s death – please carefully read for what Jesus had to say about homosexuality.
Here are just a few resources for your reading list. Please add to this list in the comments below.
FAQ from PFLAG (Parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays)
The Ally Packet from The Stonewall Center
The Ally’s Guide to Issues Facing LGBT Americans
Answers to questions about marriage equality
Straight for Equality
Rachel Held Evans – Check out her posts in the “homosexuality” category
Kathy Baldock - Canyonwalker Connections – The activism and blog of an ally
Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America by Mel White
God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson
Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee
Jesus the Bible and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers
Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches by Walter Wink
8. Watch – For the Bible Tells Me So. It’s ok to cry.
9. Think - A lot.
Think with your intellect AND think with your heart.
Move beyond regurgitating what you have been fed by others.
Think for yourself.
10. Pray some more. Pray persistently. Pray by practicing the presence of God everywhere, in all that you do and in everyone that you meet.
11. Share -
Share with others in your faith community, your work place, your school, on Facebook and in your own home how you are learning to be an ally. This is likely one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle. Once you have made a choice to be an active ally follow the call to tell others.
12. Act – If you are a writer, write. If you are a speaker, speak. If you are a preacher, preach. If you are a lover, love. If you are an engaged citizen, find out what the issues are, find out how to get involved and for pete sake, vote.
Here are a few resources to help you get moving, please share more in the comments below.
Create a safe space on your campus, in your workplace, or at your school (from GLSEN)
Check out some resource kits (from GLAAD)
Explore a five part welcoming guide for faith communities (From the Religious Institute)
Dig into the Welcoming Resources (for faith communities) from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Come out as an ally all year long…
**UPDATED FOR 2014 **
January 20-24, 2014: No-Name Calling Week
April 10, 2014: Straight for Equality Gala
April 11, 2014: Day of Silence
May 4, 2014: International Family Equality Day
September 23, 2014: Bi Visibility Day
October 11, 2014: National Coming Out Day
October 2014: GLSEN’s Ally Week (2014 dates TBA)
October 2014: GLAAD’s Spirit Day (2014 date TBA)
November 3 – 6, 2014 : Out & Equal Workplace Summit
November 20, 2014: Transgender Day of Remembrance
December 1, 2014: World AIDS Day