How to Be an LGBT Ally as a Straight Man
Ebony contributor Mychal Denzel Smith recalls the day he was hit on by another man in New York, and when he declined a date and shared that he was heterosexual, his suitor's immediate response was fear. Smith notes this reaction as the reason blacks must change their attitudes toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Fact is, as a heterosexual man, nearly anything I do that is seen as an extension of my sexual desires will be justified by someone, somewhere. No matter how reprehensible, immoral, violent, illegal, or disgusting, any action that follows from my attraction to women will be seen as legitimate and find defenders. Yet, here was this man afraid I would punch him on a crowded street because he asked me to the movies.
When he left, I noticed all the men walking up and down the street holding hands. They kissed each other, they groped their partners other public. Gay men were literally everywhere, open, loving, and free. So, even in a space that was presumably safe to express same sex attraction, the man who approached me was still afraid his identity could cause him harm.
And we're OK with that.
When I say “we," I mean those who identify as heterosexual, and I say we're OK with that because we do so little to alleviate those fears. Even those of us who claim to be progressives or allies fail at times to seriously account for the experiences of those members of the LGBT community we claim to care for. We spend time speculating people's sexual orientation, only to co-opt, or dismiss as unimportant “coming out" stories. Some of us even make vicious jokes, suggesting it doesn't matter because we don't hate gays. And then we have the unmitigated nerve to wonder why more people are not open about their sexual identity.
Read Mychal Denzel Smith's entire piece at Ebony.
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