By Alex Sabrina Morgan
When is an ally poised to become a deserter?
When an interest in politics or equality extends as far as their genitals or their brand positioning, and stops short of the zone of personal risk or uncertainty.
When an unpopular opinion isn’t voiced until it polls at 45% or greater in favor of.
When LGBTQ equality is important but not important enough to teach about our pleasure when you teach about sexuality.
When being a queer man is a great way to meet women.
When being a feminist gets you laid.
It’s great that what is a necessity for some of us is something others pick up only when it’s convenient or advantageous. It’s great that the people that can set this down the minute it feels too unsafe are happy to take center stage, even to take paid gigs teaching about something they have at best — at best — secondhand knowledge of instead of referring to qualified peers who also have lived experience, but who are less likely to receive credit for that work. (This is especially common in often underfunded fields like sex ed and direct service work.)
Most self-proclaimed allies are, rather, an entourage: they hang around you while you’re edgy but climbing, but if you slip in popularity they’re gone. If they can benefit from you, they’ll do it in a heartbeat, even at your expense. They’ll trade on your cachet and throw you under the bus for a good time.
Allies take shots. Allies stand up and put themselves in the line of fire with you while trying to share their advantages with you, because your cause is their cause.
If you say you’re an ally and I don’t see you on the front lines or on the supply lines, but I see you on the posters and in the back room speaking for us instead of helping us get into the room, rest assured: I see you.
If your heart is in the right place, and you are a supporter, help those you care for feel supported — not shoved aside. Speak up for us, not over us, and do it even when you won’t get accolades. Help those with less access find more reach. Pass the microphone and keep joining in on the chorus. We want your voice *with* us, not over us, so that together we can drown out the hate.
Your ego is not my ally. Your heart is. May your hands rise to meet it.
(You can contact Alex Sabrina for comments here)