Plastic Rainbows Revisited
First, despite my earlier reservations about Ally Week expressed in last quarter’s issue, I wish to say that I was thoroughly impressed by the work of Kristina Sidrak and the rest of the Internal Vice President Office and the Ally Week Committee. The success of the events demonstrates the diligence of the organizers, and their dedication to the LGBT community.
The outreach of the Committee to communities who bare homophobic stigmas, such as those of athletics and religion, demonstrates the Committee’s understanding of the LGBT community’s need for a broader range of allies. This outreach conveys an ambition to educate these communities, rather than simply celebrating those already existing allies.
Monday night’s speaker, Hudson Taylor, embodied many admirable qualities of an ally. The recognition that Sidrak and her office saw in Taylor exhibits their own allyship. I found Hudson’s story of transformation to his current state of allyship inspiring and the perfect example to invoke the same amount of allyship in others. But, what impressed me most of the Athlete Ally was his apathy to the assumption that he himself is a gay man. This admirable indifference exemplifies his astounding empathy with the community, as he does not object to share possible discrimination.
The performance of Kristo Gobin also demonstrated the hard work of the IVP office. The audience turn out for the performance was impressive, and much greater than the audience at Gobin’s performance the previous year. Such an attendance could not have happened without the work of the Committee in their promotion for the event. This diligence also conveys the Committee’s dedication to the initiative as well as the community which they strive to defend.
Similar to the significance of Monday night’s event, the panel for Wednesday night reached out to a community which often shuns our own, and which we, in turn, shun. The manner of the event also demonstrates the Committee’s understanding of the LGBT community. Instead of a single speaker, the Committee chose to create a dialogue between two communities trapped within self-imposed isolation from each other. By creating this discussion, the Committee fostered a relationship of mutual listening which must exist in an issue as complex as spirituality. Such discussion may be able to bridge the isolation that the LGBT community has created in fear of the religious communities which have displayed nothing but hate.
Yet, despite their improvements and success, Ally Week possesses flaws and shortcomings, a characteristic which everything shares. The shirts for the event, a major component of the effort and a big opportunity to make a strong statement, make the same mistake they did last year: they fail to mention the subjects of the wearer’s allyship – there’s no mention of the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc – conveying an apprehension to truly identify with the LGBT community as an ally. This apprehension, however small, hinders the progression of the initiative as well as its purpose.
From last year to this year, Ally Week has grown and progressed in its purpose, from a shallow celebration to an educational and outreaching program true to its purpose. Seeing this change, I look forward to next year’s Ally Week, and the progression that will be made.