I am not L, G, B, T or I ... so why am I an ALLY?
There are a few, in my opinion, very good reasons:
Supporting a group that experiences discrimination is close to my heart. As I have been a generously-sized individual all my life, I have experienced active discrimination, ranging from rude comments to not getting a job. On coming to USQ, I was thrilled to find lots of other larger people on staff, clear evidence in my mind that USQ’s anti-discrimination policy is more than just a policy.
I was also discriminated against when I was a young woman, when it was assumed I would soon be bearing children and therefore wasn't suitable for promotion. As it happened, the only children I've had have had fur and four legs, and I would have loved the higher duties. Their loss.
My sister is a lesbian and has had a long and happy relationship with her partner, the envy of many heterosexual couples. I love her dearly and have never judged her for her life. She never formally came out to my parents by having ‘the conversation,’ but they clearly knew and understood.
In my adult years I have come to know many LGBTI folks (only one ‘I’ but several of all the other categories) and many have become enduring friends. As with all people, they have their shortcomings, but when they know they are accepted and loved, I have found they tend to open up more than heterosexual folks often do, and it's easy to become close. To me, that's the basis of true friendship. Perhaps it's the relief of finally finding a safe space that brings an outpouring of feelings.
My adopted nephew (son of my best friend) came out to me before anyone else in the family. I was his trial go at having the conversation and I was able to give him a couple of tips for how to express himself in a way his family would understand. They all accepted him unconditionally, as I expected. His Dad cried when he found out my nephew had packed a bag just in case he was thrown out of the house. ‘How could you ever think I would do such a thing?’ They are a great family, and I am privileged to have been adopted into it.
You don’t have to be LGBTI yourself to be an ALLY. You just need to have an open heart and mind and be willing to create a safe space for people to be themselves. The ALLY training course is important because it facilitates open discussions and increases the number of safe spaces available to those in the USQ LGBTI community.
Even though I myself do not identify as LGBTI, I display the USQ ALLY Network rainbow on my office door with pride and hope I will be seeing many more rainbows on doors in the future.
To find out more about USQ's ALLY Network, visit the website.