Ally

This word, often preceded by straight, has been used to describe those  who advocate for the equal rights and treatment of LGBTQ-identifying people. More broadly, it can describe anyone who is not in a group but supports people in that group--for instance, a white ally of African-Americans.

The term "straight ally" is one that some have argued is given by those within the LGBTQ community based on the ally’s history of work on behalf of the LGBTQ community, and is not eligible to be personally claimed by a straight individual as an identity label. Some allies prefer the term "friend" or "advocate".

From a religious conservative perspective, allies may simply be further reinforcing a sexual ethic that has long-term negative consequences - and in a way that paints anyone with questions or concerns as some kind of an “enemy.”  From this perspective, while conveying an image of being more compassionate and supportive, allies are not offering true kindness or love.  

For some within the LGBTQ and progressively-minded faith communities, allies serve an important role in social change efforts, as their voices are often more readily heard than those within the community. While highly valued, allies have sometimes been seen as accidentally elevating their own voices over those whom they desire to speak for.

QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:

-Does the word “ally” have a positive or negative connotation to you? Explain why.

-How exactly would you define “ally” in the context of sexuality? Are there different degrees in being an “ally” that are valuable to consider and worth discussing?

Contributors: 

John Backman, Jacob Hess, Heidi Weaver-Smith

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