It Shouldn't Take A Hallmark-Sized Screwup To Be An Ally To The LGBTQIA+ Community

It Shouldn’t Take A Hallmark-Sized Screwup To Be An Ally To The LGBTQIA+ Community

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Zola/Youtube

The Hallmark Channel was the latest, but not the last, organization to give in to bigoted voices of complaints against the LGBTQIA+ community. The loudest voices are usually the negative ones, and sadly the loudest voices are hard to ignore. This time the voices were shouting about a commercial. The wedding planning service, Zola, features a same-sex couple and when it aired on the “family friendly” network, One Million Moms demanded to have it removed. Hallmark caved and pulled the ad.

Because every side has two stories, usually with a right to a wrong, the pro-LGBTQIA+ folks became vocal. I am always thankful for justice when it is served, and Hallmark’s reinstatement of the commercial was a small bit of it. But the original blunder was not a surprise.

After the outrage, Hallmark reinstated the ad and CEO Mike Perry issued an apology. “The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision.”

This is one of many wrong decisions made when it comes to hurting marginalized voices. Hallmark’s “agonizing” mistake was just another very visible sign of people’s desire to cancel LGBTQIA+ rights and representation. As a queer, nonbinary person, I see this daily. It’s maddening, and sometimes all I can muster is an eye roll. I want change, and I fight for it, but I can’t spend all of my days angry. To make changes, allies of the LGBTQIA+ community can’t act only when outraged either.

Thank you to the many voices and petition signers who were vocal about the wrong done to my community. I appreciate the commotion caused that placed appropriate backlash on Hallmark, but I want to ask people to do a little gut checking. The job of an ally is not just to clean up messes and put out fires; the role must include daily acts of allyship in order to prevent discrimination.

I am always thankful for justice when it is served, and Hallmark’s reinstatement of the commercial was a small bit of it. But the original blunder was not a surprise.

We can’t stop all of the hatred in the world or educate people who willfully refuse to learn, but we can be more vocal and active every day to be sure the world slowly becomes a safer and more accepting place for all people. Let’s do better before another petition needs to be signed. Here are some ways to do this.

Be Visible

I am constantly on the lookout for safe people and places. And because I can’t always judge a book by its cover, I am trying to judge a person’s level of LGBTQIA+ acceptance based on their public persona. I need to see visible signs that I am safe with you. What stories do you share on social media? Do you have Safe Space stickers in your office or place of business? Do you wear or offer pronoun pins and name tags or include your pronouns in email signatures? If you do, great! High five! But you are not done.

Be Vocal

If you are already taking silent steps to be an ally, are you then encouraging family, friends, and co-workers to do the same? So many wonderful conversations grow from saying your pronouns and explaining why you are doing it. You are making space for those who use pronouns that can’t be assumed. We know better than to assume, right? For transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming folks, stating and asking pronouns is one of the most respectful things you can do.

And when it comes to family and friends, are you challenging narrow-minded opinions and ignorant comments? Speak up and against comments that hurt the queer community, even when it’s confrontational. It doesn’t need to get ugly, but ugly words need to be addressed.

Being vocal means setting boundaries. Be clear about your inability to tolerate someone else’s intolerance.

Be Proactive

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Donate time or money to a queer organization like a local pride center or a national nonprofit fighting for and supporting LGBTQIA+ people. Ask for more inclusive books in your child’s classrooms and at the public library. Demand LGBTQIA+ training in your workplace and make sure your company offers protections and benefits to queer employees.

Be A Voter

I don’t love talking politics, but when I vote I don’t see it as a political move. I vote for my safety and the safety of others so we can live with the rights we deserve. Do the same. If you are an ally, let go of political party ties and vote for humanity. Encourage the people in your lives to follow suit. Please vote, but before you do, remind people to do the same. Take it a step further and offer to help someone get to their voting place. The people who need their voices heard the most often struggle to arrive at the place where their voices can be amplified.

Be Aware

Unless you experience what I do every day, folks tend to forget all of the microaggressions, assumptions, and biases placed on queer people. Don’t wait for outrage and headlines to be reminded of what I and other queer folks are up against all of the time. Read our stories, look up our history, or watch a movie that makes you a better informed and empathetic human and ally to the LGBTQIA+ community.

It’s perfectly acceptable to become outraged when LGBTQIA+ folks are being dismissed and harassed. But to be sure everyone is getting the benefits of your anger, you need to do more than sign a petition once or twice a year when a big company fucks up and makes the news.

For many people it’s easy to be a dick, both online and in real life. It can be easier to oppose nasty people online than face to face, but that is what needs to happen. Please don’t put yourself in danger, but slapping a rainbow sticker on your window or a pronoun pin on your shirt can be a daily slap in the face to bigots. Promote LGBTQIA+ inclusion and education everywhere you go–not just with an electronic signature.