The Student News Site of Los Osos High School

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

How To Be a Better Ally

Being openly a part of the LGBTQ+ community is certainly easier nowadays than it was 30 years ago. Ever since the monumental legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States in 2015, being out of the closet has become somewhat more socially acceptable. However, there are certain inherent biases and ignorant beliefs that people who claim to be “allies” still hold.

An ally is defined by the National Institutes of Health as a person who “recognizes that though they are not a member of a marginalized group(s) they support, they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle of another’s circumstances.

Ever since I came out publicly at the beginning of 2023, several people who initially expressed their support for my identity have made questionable comments regarding my sexuality and relationship. These remarks stem from a place of ignorance, not hate, and by no means am I attempting to shame anyone; I understand that a lot of people are simply misinformed about the Queer community and their responses aren’t intentionally harmful.

I acknowledge that I’m fortunate to have a supportive family and an accepting group of friends that have never made me feel limited in the expression of my identity. Countless Queer people face far more discrimination and violence than I, a privileged White lesbian living in Southern California. Regardless of the overarching circumstances, these comments regarding my sexuality are invalidating.

For instance, when I mentioned offhandedly in conversation with a peer that my partner and I had gone out the previous weekend, she replied, “I had a lesbian phase once too!” Although this person attempted to be supportive, it’s harmful to refer to being a part of the LGBTQ+ community as a “phase”.

One of the most common phrases that Queer teenagers hear from adults in response to coming out is that their identity is temporary and will fizzle away with age, and that eventually, they will meet the right person who will “turn them straight”. I can not speak for the experiences of the entire LGBTQ+ community, but being gay isn’t something that just fades away over time or is erased by dating someone of a different gender. 

Furthermore, this statement implies that every person gets to choose their sexual orientation, which is entirely untrue. If heterosexual people wouldn’t wake up and “decide” to be attracted to the opposite gender, why would gay people do the same?  

To perpetuate this ideology, even unknowingly, contributes to dangerous generalizations.

Another uncomfortable encounter was when one of my older relatives asked me who “the man” in my relationship was. This comment is most commonly directed toward Queer women, but it can impact any non-traditional relationships.

There is this preconceived notion that in every relationship, a distinctly masculine person must be dating a distinctly feminine person. This sentiment is not only ridiculous but also continues the offensive idea that without a man, no relationship is complete. Pushing heteronormative expectations onto any couple is detrimental. Whether it’s two women or a man and a woman, there is no reason to elevate one person in the relationship solely because of their gender. 

Some bigotry is so built into people that they don’t realize saying they’re “put off” by gay relationships is a form of prejudice and discrimination. One time, I was just adjusting my partner’s hair, which isn’t even inherently romantic, in a group setting with several of our friends around. Someone in the group commented that it “made them uncomfortable” and that they “didn’t know how to act” when either of us expressed physical affection. 

Yes, public displays of affection are gross! But how on earth is it fair that straight couples get to make out in the hallways during passing periods yet my girlfriend and I have to worry about simply holding hands in public because we make others “uncomfortable”?

Being a genuine ally requires compassion and understanding, and the best way to support LGBTQ+ people in your life is not to assume their sexual orientation makes up their entire personality but to listen to them and respect their boundaries.

Donate to The Grizzly Gazette

Your donation will support the student journalists of Los Osos High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The Grizzly Gazette