Ally Training Week 1: Why is being an ally important, and what is an ally?

Matthew 5: 15-16: Let your light shine “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” 

Sometimes LGBTQ+ people are told that we need to hide their light in order to fit in. Allies not only let their light shine, but also empower others to uncover their own lights.

Ground rules

  1. Discussion grounded in faith, scripture
  2. It’s ok to be you
  3. It’s ok to be uncomfortable
  4. No questions are off-limits, if asked with respect and a desire to learn

Why does this discussion matter?

  • Discrimination
    • 50% of LGBTQ+ people not out in the workplace
    • 50% of LGBTQ+ Americans have experienced discrimination (housing, workplace, education)
  • Safety
    • 60% LGBTQ youth feel unsafe in schools due to sexual orientation
    • 45% LGBTQ youth feel unsafe in schools due to gender expression
    • 50% of trans people have attempted suicide
    • LGBTQ+ youth are 3-4x more likely than cis-het youth to attempt suicide
  • Reconciling sexuality with faith: Rev. Elizabeth Edman in her book “Queer Virtue”: “I can’t count how many times people have asked me how I reconcile my sexuality with my faith. The question always leaves me speechless, because I experience these two parts of my identity to be so deeply resonant with each other, particularly in terms of how they call me to live….Religious deprecation of queer people seems predicated on the idea that there is no spark of the divine in us—or that we possess such a spark but live in opposition to it, thus living in a state of perpetual sin.”

Three basic claims of Christianity: from Rev. Edman

1. That God lived on earth in the person of Jesus

2. That Jesus was killed, died, and rose from the dead

3. That any person can believe these truths and, together with others in community, live as Christians, following the ethical and moral teachings of  Jesus

In order to truly and authentically participate in Christianity, we must deal with all three claims – otherwise our proclamation is inauthentic. So what do statements like “love the sinner, hate the sin” say? 

What does being an ally mean?

  • Want to learn
  • Recognize and address barriers
  • Know that support doesn’t always look the same
  • Recognize and honor diversity

Barriers to being an ally:

  • “Will people think I’m gay?”
  • What if someone disagrees with my position?”
  • “I don’t know how…what if I do it wrong?” The best way to address this is to be willing to ask question and admit you don’t know, and ask for corrections when you make mistakes. You will almost always be met with grace and gratitude.

Ally vs. active ally

PFLAG poll demonstrated that 70% of men, 83% of women consider themselves to be allies; only 8% of men, 19% of women consider themselves to be active allies – speaking up publicly, supporting LGBTQ+ coworkers, family members, fellow churchgoers, etc.

Minimization: the tendency to minimize/downplay the “difference” of sexual orientation or gender identity – comes from a good place of wanting to recognize our similarities, but it disregards the challenges or difficulties that the other faces that I do not. The best example of this is from conversations about race: “I don’t see color.” How might someone who has experienced discrimination or threat because of their race or ethnicity feel? What about people who might have experienced discrimination in regards to their sexual orientation or gender expression, when people say “I don’t care who you kiss?”

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