Of allies and frenemies

HOLAAfrica, HOLAA, queer, LGBTI

By NAS

“My name is [Insert name], and I love you people…”

This statement is always the first red flag for me in any conversation; after that statement I experience a mental astuteness that will dissect every word that the person says. Usually to categorize them in different levels of ‘othering’ persons, ignorant statements, deliberately hurtful statements, and I don’t care because you should be grateful am here statements that usually follow this kind of introduction.

There is always a need for allies to establish blatantly that they are friends/friendly while within the LGBQ-ITGNC circles. I understand the need to be clear and avoid unwanted advances…but usually most people who introduce themselves like expect their declaration to be followed by cheers and accolades for their boldness in associating with a marginalized group.

‘I am an ally give me a cookie!’

In the last six years, I have watched closely the way most Allies of the LGBQ-ITGNC community have associated with us. Their sentiments vary from sympathy – for individuals and their entire families – to tolerance, and everything in between. Between the struggle among the allies to accept diversity and the LGBQ-ITGNC persons realization that we do not live in a silo apart from everyone else in society, there lies a problem.

As we move to build a formidable and unshakable movement that creates an impact and bring about change, I feel we lose ourselves. With every snide remark from an ally that is afterwards explained as ‘no harm intended’ some of us feel a little less human. With every over long stare with a sneer plastered upon a face of an ally that is explained as ‘I wasn’t even looking at you’ some of us feel unsafe among our supposed comrades. With every exclusion on matters affecting us also that is explained as ‘we didn’t want this to look like a gay agenda’ most of us wonder why we even bother. With every moment of conspicuous absence from platforms that impact change for us we feel unwanted.

Yet, year in year out we seek these liaisons, not with different persons but the same people and continue to endure these microaggressions and gas-lighting, endure the abuse. I wonder if it is for the greater good of the movement or for the ultimate good of certain individuals. Have we have endured so much hate from the society that we decided to court their discrimination and consume their venom? Or perhaps we have known so much pain that we no longer know what love is – the unconditional; unequivocal love that expects nothing in return – or if it exists at all. Maybe we have found ourselves with a ‘savior complex’ and seek to save the allies from ignorance.

All these musings, and I sadly do not have a plausible explanation. What I know for a fact is we need to love ourselves a little more and choose actual allies, not people masquerading as confidants. In the years to come, as we journey towards inclusion and nondiscrimination, I hope the universe guides us to actual allies and steers us away from the FRENEMIES that constantly attempt to remind us of the stigma and discrimination we are fighting so hard to end.

Love and Light!

Also read How To Be an LGBTIQ ally

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