Today you will embark on a journey that may change your view on life for the better. I want you to imagine that you are the head of a county office, and one of your responsibilities as a county clerk is discretion of distributing marriage licenses. You are a fairly popular county clerk in your town because the community is quite small, so everyone knows everyone. Your job is fairly run-of-the-mill. A happy couple comes in, requests a marriage license and you grant it. Until one sunny afternoon, two men walk into your front door and approach your desk. You don’t really think anything of it, until they interlock their hands and inquire about receiving a marriage license. You come to the realization that they are a gay couple with the intent of becoming married. This is not something that you have ever had to deal with before. You remember a quote from Mildred Loving who once said, "All Americans no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry."
With this in mind, you...
[[Grant them the license, make sure they don't tell people that you have given them the license. This is a one time thing|Page 2]].|
[[Lie and tell them that you are about to leave due to personal circumstances, and that they should seek help elsewhere. |Page 3]].|
[[With a short tone of voice, deny them the marriage license and refuse to help them any further|Page 4.]]|
Did you know that seventy-two percent of people in the United States live in a state where gay marriage is legal?
So you granted the couple their marriage license. They thank you endlessly and tell you how they have been to several county offices and have been denied each time. You nod and acknowledge their struggle, but your body language makes it obvious that you want them to leave. You know you weren't granting them a license out of the kindess of your heart, you just don't want all the gay poeple to come marching on your door step protesting and causing a commotion.
After the couple leaves, you decide to close your office and go home. You hope that the whole neighborhood doesn't catch wind of what you've done. It could ruin your reputation. At night you go to bed, and when you wake up in the morning and walk outside to go pick up your mail, you realize that there is spray point all over your door. There are hateful terms spray painted all over your door, "Gay lover," "Pig," "Faggot," amongst other things.
Sometimes doing the right thingg, isn't the easiest choice.
Given the opportunity, would you change your decision?
Because you decided to leave your office, the couple felt that you were uncomfortable with their request so they decided to drive to another county in order to get a marriage license. In the new county, the couple is granted their license. However on the day of the actual ceremony, the wedding is crashed and there were several participants who were injured and hospitalized. The event sparks the attention of news broadcasters, and you see the coverage of the event. As you are watching you realize that that is the same couple who walked into your business in search of a marriage license. You may not have agreed with two men getting married, but you also don't wish violence upon anyone. You can feel guilt welling up in your stomach so you decide to get in contact with the couple that you ignored that day. Although your community is also somewhat conservative, you are aware that there would have been more accepting people in your community than where the couple was forced to go. You have a friend that knows one of the men, and you get his cell phone number. You call the number the very next day and after a few rings on the phone you hear a deep, sad voice say, “Hello…?”
[[You get a sick feeling in your stomach knowing that an injustice was performed to an innocent couple. You offer your condolences that their special day was ruined, and wish you could have changed your decision.|Page 3.1]]|
[[You feel sorry for those who were hurt, but you don’t offer too much solace. |Page 3.2]]|
[[You have a change of heart and decide that this is none of your concern, and frankly, you don't particularly care. So, you hang up abruptly.|Page 3.3]]
After the couple asks for the license, you simply say no, and return to your paperwork. You no longer acknowledge that the couple is there and patiently wait for them to leave. They are trying to ask why you will not grant them the license, but you no longer want to answer their questions. The couple, disgruntled and frustrated decides to leave. You take one last glance at them and...
[[You stop them and decide to help them.|Page 4.1]]
[[You apologize for not being able to help them, but you tell them the location of an office that might help them.|Page 4.2]]
[[You let them walk out the door and breathe a sigh of relief. You can't believe that they would have the nerve to come into your office.|Page 3.3]]
You express to the couple that seeing this sort of injustice makes you sick and uncomfortable. You express that given the chance, you would change your decision. Seeing these tragedies has sparked a change of heart, and you know that now you want to become an advocate for LGBTQ rights, including gay marriage.
[[Take the next step|Page 3.15]]
So you decided to contact the couple and express your concern and regret, but you decide that you want to take more of the neutral path. Neutrality oftentimes leads to complacency which may as well be just as bad as oppression. When you decide to be neutral in a situation, you silence yourself, your opinion, your voice, and practice self-oppression. However, your decision to take the neutral route implies that you want to be an ally but are unsure how. Being an ally is not a simple task, however, it is the only way to end oppression for everyone.
Do you want to learn to become an ally?
[[No| Page 3.55]]
Oppressive behavior against any community, not just the LGBTQ community is what encourages violence and maltreatment of others. People of the LGBTQ community do not have the same privileges as heterosexuals, and in a heteropatriarchical society, lesbian women, gay men, transgender and queer people are the brunt of oppression and discrimination. You have the power to make a difference and advocate for those who's voices aren't heard no matter how loudly they speak.
Will you become an ally for those who's voices have been unjustly silenced? Or will you let the cycle of oppression continue?
[[A change needs to be made|Page 3.25]]
[[I can't make much of a difference.|Page 3.35]]
Crimes against the LGBTQ community and LGBT-biased hate crimes are amongst one of the most underreported instances of crimes in our country. It is ok to want to change your decision in order to protect yourself, however, being an ally comes with certain repercussions. In 2007 alone, 1,265 hate crimes against LGBT people were reported to the FBI, but this doesn't account for the non-reported crimes. Being an ally doesn't simply mean granting someone a license, there are very many other things that it entails.
[[Learn how to become an effective ally.|Page 2.25]]
Out of approximately 2,118,000 marriages in the United States each year, since 2004 only about 71,000 of those have been gay marriages. Gay marriage is far from ever being considered a societal "norm." But it is up to us to be allies and advocate for those who are less privileged.
You chose not to change your decision. This is an important step in becoming an ally for the LGBTQ. Being an ally requires being supportive of those who are different from you and putting yourself in other's shoes.
Considereing that you decided to not change your decision, the next step is working for a change. Are you ready to adovcate for the LGBTQ community and work for change?
[[I don't know...how can I make a change?|Page 2.50]]
What does it mean to be an ally for a cause? How would you define being an ally?
When you become an ally, you should first define what exactly it is that you're allying against. What are you fighting and who are you fighting for? Once you can answer these questions affirmatively, then we can begin to branch off into what constitutes being and ally and what is typical behavior of alies.
[[Read on|Page 5]]
You have a sudden change of heart and you decide to help the couple. You decide to grant them the license, but are you granting the license because you really want to help or because it is a one time thing? Did you know that gay marrigae doesn't even account for a full one percent of all marriages in the United States? With all of the violence and oppression surrounding the gay community, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise, yet we all must work towards the end of oppression for all.
[[This statistic should change. We should all be free to love whomever we want without being victims of oppression.|Page 3.15]]
[[Why should I care?| Page 3.55]]
Although you have provided assistance to the couple, the route of neutrality, is often one that is complacent and only encourages oppression further. When you decide to stay neutral, you conform to societal norms and give more power to the oppressors, because you are not letting your voice be heard on a matter that may be important to you. We cannot let society dictate our thoughts, words, and actions. We must all be individuals who use our privileges to our advantages.
[[Learn how to advocate for their rights of others.|Page 3.25]]
[[I can make a difference?|Page 3.35]]
Deciding to become an ally is a major choice in our society. Click the link below to learn how you become an ally and aid in the fight for freedom of all in our society!
[[Click here|Page 2.25]]
If you decide not to ally for a cause, not only are you encouraging oppression, this oppressive behavior carries over to being hateful towards other groups of people. You also indirectly encourage all of the injustices and crimes performed against, not just the LGBTQ community, but other oppressed communities, too. Not everyone is born into a position of power of privilege. However, through advocacy and using privileges to our advantages, we can slowly but surely make changes in our communities, society, and the world.
Do you still not want to become an ally for the rights of others?
[[You have a point...how do I become an ally|Page 3.25]]
[[I'm still not sold on the idea yet.|Page 2.50]]
Deciding that you must take a step to fight for equal rights for the gay and lesbian community, you decide to try and put together the funds for an organization that will advocate for the rights of LGBTQ community and make sure no one is denied the right to marriage. Your cause is for the best intention, however, is it enough? Do you truly understand what being an ally entails? It is not something you can self proclaim and then expect people to just go along with it, you must really provide actions and prove your alliance.
[[Click here to find out more about becoming an ally|Page 2.25]]
You may be unsure or hesistant on becoming an ally, but that's ok! That's what I'm here for. Going out of our comfort zones for the benefit of those around us is a scary step, but as we grow and learn throughout life, we realize that not everything is so black and white, like we were taught. There may be some gray areas, and we must use the privileges granted to us to wedge ourselves in this gray area and fight for those who can't fight for themselves. Our voices must be heard as we advocate for the liberation of everyone.
[[Tell me more about becoming an ally.|Page 2.25]]
The one thing we cannot do when creating coalitions and fighting for the end of oppression is convince ourselves that there is not much we can do. There are so many things we can do, starting with small, simple things, like simply providing an ear to listen or shoulder to cry on, to bigger things, like creating organizations or funds for already existing organizations.
[[So you've convinced me, now what?|Page 3.25]]
[[I'm still not entirely sure| Page 3.55]]
Being an ally is being supportive of others who are different from you. We can not see each other for how we are different, though. We must see how we are similar and put ourselves in the shoes of others.
We also must be open to learning and sharing new experiences. You must admit your initial ignorance to the problems in order to realize how to grow and change. We must exam our own individual privileges and determine how to use those privileges to advocate for others.
One of the most important aspects of being an ally is listening to the viewpoints and ideas of others with a non-critical ear. We must set aside our own beliefs and be open to the opposition. If we cannot listen and learn, how can we ever understand how to make an effective change?
Allies and alliances look different to everyone. Not every ally is the leader of an organization or the top contributor to a foundation. Sometimes being an ally is as simple as listening to someone and empathizing with them.
[[Click here|Page 5.1]]
You have now been educated on advocating for others and being an ally for the oppressed. Hopefully this experience has helped you see things in a more critical light, and you are more empowered to create changes for the oppressed and dicriminated.
Thank you for playing!!!
[[References| Page 6]]
Readings for Diversity and Social Justice Readings 82, 84, 130
Hate Crimes AND Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgender People By Michelle A. Marzullo and Alyn J. Libman
The Washington Post, "Married same-sex couples make up less than one half of one percent of all married couples in the U.S."
CNN.com, "By the numbers: Same-sex marriage"
Pew Research Center.org, "5 facts about same-sex marriage" & "How many same-sex marriages in the U.S.? At least 71,165, probably more"