Behind The Pink Thundersticks: Allies Are Essential

At the National Equality March in 2009, there was a woman standing alone on the sidewalk along the march route. Her sign read “THIS STRAIGHT WOMAN SUPPORTS YOU.”

Cheers erupted in waves as people got close enough to read the sign, and quite a few stepped out of the march to get their pictures taken with her. I remember thinking how unfortunate it was that so many of us were so hungry for the support of one straight ally willing to stand with us.

Yet we are. So far, the Brazil volleyball story that I posted on Thursday has been shared over 17,000 times on facebook, over 1,000 times on twitter, and at least 1,500 times on tumblr. All of that in less than four days, and it ain’t because of my skillful prose. It’s because of this picture and what this picture means.

A stadium full of allies. WOW.
A stadium full of allies. WOW.

This isn’t just a stadium full of people standing up for a player. It’s a stadium full of mostly straight people standing up for a gay player. That’s an important distinction.

We are hungry for straight folks to stand with us. Even if they have nothing to gain, even though they have something to lose, we want them to fight by our side. Raymond Miller, a video by whom I’ve posted before, talked about this last November:

We love and appreciate our supportive straight friends. We know that some of them have taken great strides to reform their old opinions. We are grateful for their changes of heart.

But if I’ve learned anything these last couple years, it’s that we need our straight friends and family members who are passively supportive to take the next step to active advocacy.

That’s what happened when that ally took the time to show her support at the National Equality March, and that’s what happened when a stadium full of straight people stood up and with one voice proclaimed, “Your prejudice is not welcome here. Leave our LGBT sisters and brothers alone.”