The following guest post was written by Alex Cabal, who is the Assistant Director of Student Activities & Student Development at Dean College. Alex oversees student activities and the B.U.I.L.D Leadership Program on the Dean campus, among other responsibilities. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to follow him on twitter @AlexCabal82.
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.” – President Barack Obama
President Obama’s words were as life changing as they were powerful. As a gay man, it was reassuring to hear someone of his caliber openly express equality for all. President Obama is a great example of “allyship” from someone who doesn’t identify as LBGTQ. His words were not only encouraging, but were filled with hope; hope that one day everyone in the United States will be treated the same, no matter who you love.
In my opinion, equality is not just a gay issue. It might seem that way because our media tends to focus on gay individuals trying to bring change to what has been established in our society. President Obama made think about those who are not part of the LGBTQ community who are using their privilege and power to bring awareness and education to those who need it, and provide a voice for those who don’t have it.
Did you know that…
- Josh Hutcherson (Yes, Hunger Games’ Peeta) is one of the founders of the LGBT ally organization Straight but Not Narrow (SBNN) and has been named by GLAAD as one of the new advocated for LGBT rights of his generation.
Jason Mraz was the first male ally to be featured in the cover of a gay magazine (Instinct) due to his work with the Human Rights Campaign and the True Colors Fund to the American Foundation for Equal Rights among others.
- Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records, has received the GLAAD Excellence in Media Award for his work in increasing the visibility and understanding of the LGBTQ community in the media.
- Cindy Lauper is the co-founder of True Colors, an organization that raises awareness about and brings an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth homelessness.
Hudson Taylor is all-American wrestler that founded www.athleteally.org, a non-profit sports resource that encourages all individuals involved in sports to respect every member of the athletic community regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. (Hudson will be visiting the Dean campus this semester!)
These individuals are among countless others committed to bringing awareness, education, and understanding to those who need it; and equality for those who deserve it.
You don’t have to be a celebrity to be an ally for change. You don’t have to found a non-profit organization or create a website. Anyone has the power to do so; change is a gradual process. It takes time, but with passion and patience, everyone will see results.
Do you have it what times to be an ally? If your answer is no…you are wrong!
You can start by doing the following:
Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect. Encourage others to be open to new perspectives and ways of thinking.
Stop homophobic comments and jokes such as “that’s so gay.” Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive, and educate them on the importance and effect of negative language on others.
Don’t assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
Listen to someone who might need it.
Acknowledge everyone’s differences and celebrate them.
What are you waiting for?
Be the change. Be the difference.