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The LGBTQ community consists of people from all walks of life and obviously those who identify themselves as part of the long and colorful gender spectrum. While heterosexual and cisgender people are technically not a part of this community, straight allies are more than welcome to stand up and fight for the rights of LGBTQ people.
Who are Straight Allies?
Being friends with a gay man or hanging out with a lesbian doesn’t automatically make you a straight ally. This simply means you tolerate your LGBTQ friends.
A straight ally is any heterosexual or cisgender person who recognizes the inherent discrimination faced by members of the LGBTQ community because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. While people have made significant progress towards achieving gender equality in different parts of the word, a straight ally knows that the fight is far from over.
Levels of Allyship
As an active supporter of the LGBTQ community, a straight ally also has to deal with a few roadblocks and be willing to challenge that. However, just like any allyship, there are certain levels of being empathetic to a cause.
Level 1: Awareness
Allies on this level recognize their privilege over other sectors but are not involved in the fight for gender equality. In other words, these are heterosexuals who don’t discriminate against any member of the LGBTQ community and that’s about it.
Level 2: Action
These are allies who know their privilege and are willing to act on it. Straight allies who join the Pride march, who go out of their way to craft legislation and end systemic oppression against the LGBTQ community belong to this level.
Level 3: Integration
This is knowing that an ally has imbibed the change he or she wants to happen in society. Integration is a slow process of discovery, action, and awareness, not just of social injustices, but of what he or she has been doing to address that. It’s a personal process that involves reflection.
History and Meaning Behind the Straight Ally Flag
Considering the importance and impact of straight allies in the ongoing battle for gender equality, at some point, an official straight ally flag was invented.
There are no accounts as to who designed the straight ally flag, but we do know it was first used in the 2000s. This specific flag for heterosexual allies was made by combining the straight flag and the LGBTQ pride flag.
The LGBTQ pride flag was invented by army veteran and LGBTQ member Gilbert Baker in 1977. Baker used the colors of the rainbow to represent unity amid diversity within the LGBTQ community itself. Baker’s colorful flag was first hoisted during the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on 1978, with famous gay rights activist Harvey Milk bearing it for all to see.
However, you should know that the straight ally flag does not have the original eight-colored flag made by Baker. Instead, the ally pride flag uses only the 6-colored one, sans the colors pink and turquoise.
The colors of the LGBTQ pride flag is seen in the letter ‘a’ written in the middle of the banner. This letter represents the word ally.
The straight ally flag also bears the straight flag, which consists of black and white stripes. The straight flag was actually a reactionary flag to that of the LGBTQ pride flag. It was invented by social conservatives in the 1900s as a political stance against gay pride. These groups composed of predominantly male figures believe that there is no need for gay pride or LGBTQ pride because nobody talks about straight pride.
With this in mind, combining a part of the straight flag into the straight ally flag can be seen as a way for cisgender people to distinguish themselves as outsiders of the LGBTQ community. And at the same time, by incorporating the rainbow flag into the straight flag, this symbolizes the possible harmonious partnership between LGBTQ members and heterosexuals who believe that gender equality is not optional but a rule that must be followed all around the world. After all, gender equality just means respecting human rights, regardless of sexuality.
Something to Remember
Bearing the straight ally flag is not just a trend. It comes with the understanding of the plight of LGBTQ people and the responsibility to do something about it.
Knowing that there’s an existing straight ally flag and that straight men and women are allowed to support the LGBTQ community is all well and good. However, for allies reading this piece, remember that supporting the community doesn’t mean you are required to brandish a flag or shout it out to the crowd. True LGBTQ allies know that support comes in many shapes and sizes.
For as long as you do not participate in discrimination against LGBTQ members and continue to push for gender equality, then you have all the right to call yourself a straight ally. But if you want to actively push for gender equality, then, by all means, go for it.