As published in the Des Moines Register on 08/12/2021
I am a gay man, identify as gay and use the word Queer when talking about my community because it is the most inclusive word.
If you are straight, you don’t have to know me. You could exclude me from your social group, you could refuse to hire me or keep me in the closet at work. You could not invite me to family functions to ensure no one is uncomfortable. All of these things are simple to do and unless you told someone, they would never know or even think about it.
5.6% of U.S. adults identify as Queer. An average of 55% of heterosexual adults identify themselves as allies, yet Queer people are nearly four times as likely to be victims of violent crimes than the straight community. I am far from good with numbers but I don’t think this adds up.
If we are so aligned and evolved why do more than 1.8 million Queer youths in the US seriously consider suicide each year? Why do Queer teens make up 40% of the homeless youth population? Why do one in five Queer adult workers report being told they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner? Why is leadership apathy the top reason Queer professionals don’t report negative workplace comments about Queer people?
I sincerely believe it is because the Queer community’s straight allies do not know. I refuse to believe straight allies don’t care and are just giving lip service to the issue. I truly believe this compassionate population wants to do right by their Queer loved ones but simply do not fully realize the challenges those loved ones face or how to actually help. They don’t realize that loving someone who is Queer is not enough. The love and acceptance our allies give is great, necessary and appreciated but it is just the beginning. Many allies view it as the end.
Like it or not, this country is fighting a cultural war. The lens I l see it through is the Queer/Straight relationship because my life journey has given me a unique perspective of this country and its people. I grew up in rural Iowa, attended Iowa State, and lived all around the Midwest and on both coasts. I am proud to say I have friends who range from those who identify as redneck to identifying as woke and everywhere in between.
I strongly believe the Queer community has more allies than not, that there are more good people than bad, but right now the bad people are better organized and louder.
If you are a straight ally to the Queer community, it’s time for you to come OUT. You can no longer be passive. You are either ACTIVELY HOMOPHOBIC, PASSIVELY HOMOPHOBIC or FIGHTING HOMOPHOBIA.
It is not incredibly complex and the choice is yours.