What does it mean to be an “ally”?

I am nervous to attach the term “ally” to myself. The reason is that I know a person is that sometimes I will say or do the wrong thing. But one thing I do know is this- I support people being able to make their own decisions in life. Ultimately if they are not harming anyone I don’t see the problem.

The strange thing is that in my opinion a more emotionally open world is a good thing for everyone, straight, gay, bi, trans etc. It’s a bit like improving access for disabled people- having fewer stairs and easier access is a benefit across the board.

For example if I want to go into a tequila bar and someone offers to buy me a drink and ask for a rose tequila I don’t want someone looking at me as if I’ve asked them for nettles dipped in pig’s droppings. If I fancy a drink it’s because I saw it on the menu and it looked good- in my opinion there should be no connotations.

Of course this is a silly, trivial aspect but there is a more serious side. I am part of one of the most vulnerable sectors of society when it comes to mental health, with a frightening amount of young men aged under 35 committing suicide. While we can all quote numbers for me what hits home is when you find out about someone you know or a relative of a friend.

Another aspect of being an ally that I feel is important to emphasise is “some things are not for you.” I see stupid stuff like “Why isn’t there a straight pride festival?” The answer is simple to anyone who knows their history- it has not been so long in our human existence that something we know has existed through the centuries has only just been recognised as legal.

Even now there are countries where homosexuality is illegal and people can be executed. There are votes as to whether or not someone can marry someone else.

At this point someone may say “But my religion/I believe that this is wrong.” Here’s the thing- you can believe whatever you want, just like you can think what you want and say what you want. What I would say is this- what if a friend said they were gay and wanted to be married? Would you say to them “I like you and your my friend but I don’t support your right to do something?”

Equally if that “un-PC” joke you are saying is in a room full of people like you then I don’t think you’re being brave. The world at the moment frightens me in many ways and the worst is this idea that tolerance and treating people with respect is somehow a bad thing.

So to be clear- I will be reviewing Moonlight and I hope to be reviewing other LGBTQ themed films for this blog. I’m not gay and I will be reviewing these purely on the basis of whether or not I like the story or characters.

If you feel that anything I say misrepresents those themes or something needs to be corrected that’s fine.

Thanks to David (Know Your Pride Project Co-ordinator) for letting me on here, hope you enjoy what comes next!

By Will Turner (Norwich, UK)

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