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Safe space for LGTBTQ and Allies, and any discussions of kinks, sexual experiences, and musings. Absolutely no shaming allowed!

I feel like I am an incompetent Ally.

Posted 11 Months ago by chiarizio

I want to be an Ally to LGBTQ folk.

I have a deceased cousin who was a gay man;
a daughter who identifies as bisexual, though she has been acting pretty straight for some time now;
two step-grandniblings, born twin girls, one of whom identifies as lesbian and the other identifies as a trans-man;
and a grandnibling born as a boy, who wants to put off identifying as one gender or another until they’re older.

And I’ve had LGBTQ friends during my lifetime; including friends of friends, friends of one wife or the other, co-workers, fellow students, fellow party activists, members of my church, and fellow members of skeptic or agnostic or atheist groups.

The trouble is I continually stumble in etiquette. Or whatever the right word is for making faux pas or errors or mis-speaking.
In the past and among the older set — folks my age and a little younger or older — it used to be, and maybe still is, the case that they are or were not likely to let my errors slide without correction. Either knowing I intended to be on their side wasn’t enough to forgive my mistake, or my mistake led them to question whether I were really on their side, or even whether it was really a mistake.
Adults these days young enough to be my children or grandchildren seem ready to forgive me, provided my mistake concerned only them. This is a new thing for me.
The grandparents, and sometimes maybe also the parents, of the minors about whom I may commit faux pas, seem fairly determined to correct me, though perhaps they don’t feel actually offended by my errors. They seem to be fairly certain I’m on the side of my grandniblings, and just don’t yet know how to talk to them or about them. That is, in fact, the truth.

So I guess I’m asking for advice?
Or sympathetic anecdotes?
Or something?
Maybe just general comments?

There are 6 Replies


What kind of mistakes do you feel you've made?

11 Months ago
Xhin
Sky's the limit

Well I think for starters, just trying to make the effort can go a long way. It's good to be aware of preferred etiquette and terminology and whatnot, but most queer folks know that a lot of this is new for a lot of older folks in particular. I'd say if you can, when you make a mistake, just a little apology, correction, and moving on is better than wallowing or making a bigger deal out of the mistake.

11 Months ago
Jet Presto

Thanks, Jet Presto!

11 Months ago
chiarizio
 

Adults these days young enough to be my children or grandchildren seem ready to forgive me, provided my mistake concerned only them. This is a new thing for me.


I have a few vague ideas about how fixations on various forms of etiquette and equity regarding the queer experience have changed over the years, but the bottom line is, like Jet said, that it is more important to listen and learn and improve when you are interacting with an actual person than to try to somehow get everything perfect on the first try.

In my eyes, the fact that you care is evidence that you are a competent ally.

I actually think that the placing of emphasis on pronouns and similar forms of etiquette can be distracting when it is overdone, and that focusing on such things to the exclusion of meaningful advocacy for the improvement of conditions for queer people is a mindset that is talismanic at best and paralytic on average. I.e. there is a sense that we have to do this and that this is the thing that necessarily makes us a good ally, regardless of how we feel (or, more damning, do not feel) about the plight that queer people still experience.

Thank you for your concern.

11 Months ago
galbraith

Weird I only saw this now.

Note: I don't currently fall into lgbtq to my current knowledge. I have been questioning one thing though (may or may not make a thread on that soon). I'm just speaking from my own perspective.

The trouble is I continually stumble in etiquette. Or whatever the right word is for making faux pas or errors or mis-speaking.

Honestly easy to do. Same with language in general. For an another example, what seemed fine a decade ago may not be fine now and it may even feel hard to let it go because you feel it means something else and something less harmful, but ultimately I feel like listening to people about how they feel about it is what gets me to stop. It sinks in over over time. I find this is true for me and I'm younger than you. Though, the road to getting things to stick can sometimes be a bumpy one, but that's okay. I don't think doubting if you're really on their side is productive either personally I think that can actually lead to worse things depending on the person experience. Just keep at it and you're fine imo.

11 Months ago
Grey Echelon

Thanks, Grey!

11 Months ago
chiarizio
 

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