Let me start with a story …
My partner and I were invited to a party couple of years ago, in India. The party had people from the events industry, mostly. It was one of those parties where booze and food was flowing. Our ‘coming out’ story had been recently shared on Humans of Bombay and Brut India, both platforms with extremely wide reach in India. We had received numerous messages from our industry colleagues and that story. So we were prepared in a way to get some reaction. We decided to dress up a bit that night – and we walked in to the party to many stares. People hugged us and overall there was a sense of celebration.
Then we bumped into someone who we had known for a while, who joined into a conversation we were in the midst of with another colleague. She said to us, ‘Oh,Raga, Nicola!! You ladies look gorgeous today!‘. We thanked her graciously. In that moment, our colleague said, ‘oh all you three ladies look gorgeous’. Someone else came along to chat to us, and she thought I was distracted and not listening. I heard her say, ‘Oh please don’t include me in with these two! I am not one of them‘.
That’s a FAKE ally! And a pathetic human!
There is this one person I know, who will talk constantly about having gay friends. But, quickly behind their back, refer to them as ‘homos’ or ‘that gay person’ in a derogatory manner.
One of the things I do best is ‘observe’. My favourite thing to do is sit with a a cup of coffee in a cafe and ‘people watch’. It is interesting how much people reveal.
These days, due to lockdown, the past few months have been spent in virtual mode, mostly. These days, I have extended my favourite hobby to ‘people watch’ online. I now realise, we reveal much more of ourselves online than offline!! Interesting eh!
Anyway, that is not the point of writing this. The real point is my observation about those we call allies to the #LGBTQ community. Firstly, thank you for being allies. It means a lot to me, personally and to us in the community. But as we know, the world has real people and then it has the fake ones. The fake ones spoil it for the real allies, right?
How do we spot a fake ally? Let me list a few from my personal observation. Perhaps, you have some more to add to this?
- The are the tick-in-the-box allies:They become visible only during #PrideMonth. Rest of the year, they have other boxes to tick!
- Association by Social Media : They will share disparaging comments about the community behind our backs, but will show their support on social media: You do not have to delve too deep and you will find many such folks! I have known many who have passed snide comments about us and now show their allyship online by sharing their expertise on LGBT. Why? To leverage. Such associations bring more likes, more followers. After all, we are the flavour of the month.
- Free talk please: They will send you a personal message ONLY when they want a free talk from you: These allies will write generous, copious amounts of text telling you how inspired they are by you, and will send you a message and then end it with ‘You are the best, and we need you to share your experiences with us, but, we do NOT have the budget for this’. I am only talking about those from the corporate space.
- Budget hai? They will NOT respond the moment you ask for a budget: They love you until you ask for their budget. Then, they disappear without even having the courtesy of responding. Yes, it’s a true story. I get this all the time
- Most Fake ones will promote themselves, more than the cause: Watch them – they will be sharing how much of a great ally they are, instead of promoting the cause. Spot the difference.
- Allies who support homophobic companies and brands: They say they are allies, yet, they will not call out and openly support a brand that is outwardly homophobic.
If you are true ally, you don’t need validation that you are an ally. Just be. Support others without really promoting yourself – we are not a campaign that you have to promote!
Enjoy the joy of being a kind and compassionate human. Being an ally is all about creating a safe place for all through your genuine actions. All else is self promotion!!
Now ask yourself, are you a REAL ALLY or a FAKE ONE!
P.S: I love those who support us, and I thank all of you who do.