The LGBTQ Movement Needs Allies: Here’s How You Can Be One

If you’re reading this, you most likely believe that people of all sexes, genders and sexualities have the right to live with dignity. Whether you are a member of the rainbow family or an ally, chances are that you’ve faced questions about the LGBT community by your friends, family or colleagues. Maybe they were just curious, maybe they wanted to know why you support the community. And each time you answered their questions, you aided the battle against homophobia, discrimination and hate.

Bunny believes people only fear or hate what they don’t understand. The movement needs you and here’s what you can do to help:

Be patient. A lot of people are curious about deeply personal things and many of these questions may sound really inappropriate. If you are uncomfortable answering such questions, patiently explain why the question is personal and/or inappropriate. It can be frustrating, but the fact that you dealt with their curiosity with patience and maturity instead of losing your cool will help earn respect for the community.

Encourage them to read. There are many wonderful books that can help people understand LGBT people better. Books such as The Great Big Book of Families (by Mary Hoffman), Bi Any Other Name (by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu), Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution (by David Carter) and This Book is Gay (by James Dawson) are excellent resources for anyone wishing to know more.

Invite them to LGBTQ events. Nobody is born hateful. People turn hostile towards LGBTQ communities due to socio-cultural indoctrination and ignorance. The best way to counter this is to encourage them to interact with the people they think they despise. Invite them to march with you in your city’s pride parade.

Share stories. When people get to learn about common challenges, they begin to view you less as the ‘other’ and more as ‘one of us’. Whenever you find a topical subject, share stories about how an LGBT person experienced something similar.

This week, in the wake of the recent stalking incident involving a 29-year-old DJ in Chandigarh, Bunny brings to you two real stories of how stalking affects LGBT people. These instances can also be used to spark healthy discussions about inclusivity while fighting for a common cause.

Our first story is that of Diana, a trans-woman from Goa. Diana was only five when she realized that she was actually a little girl trapped in the body of a little boy. Her family realized this as well, but instead of getting their support, Diana began to get abused and tortured for ‘bringing shame’ to the family. When she turned eight, she discovered that people were following her on her way to school. Gradually, the entire neighborhood formed an informal surveillance squad that followed the effeminate little boy everywhere – not out of protection but to ensure that the transgender child stayed away from their own children. This empowered the roadside ‘Romeos’, who took to a more aggressive form of stalking and street harassment.

“At first they would just follow me and pass sexually inappropriate comments. When they realized nobody would ever step forward to protect me, they started sexually assaulting me,” she recalls. Over the course of the next four years, Diana often found herself dragged behind dumpsters and raped. She couldn’t tell her family because she trusted no-one.

“Every night after the lights went out, some male member of my family would enter my room and rape me. I told my mother about it but she just asked me to never say this to anyone,” she says. When a particularly nasty anal injury forced a visit to the doctor (who instantly recognized that the child had been sexually abused), Diana’s mother dismissed it as a bad case of diarrhoea. Diana is 26 now and to this day, believes that the only person she can trust is herself.

Diana is not alone. 25-year-old Jai was forced to change homes thrice because of stalkers.

“I was always slightly effeminate and sometimes, other kids would make fun of me. But things got nasty after I came out as gay to my best friend in college,” he says. Jai’s friend not only stopped talking to him completely, but also told everyone about Jai’s sexuality.

“There would be groups of boys who would follow me from college to the bus stop to where I lived as a paying guest with a few room-mates. These stalkers would always sing obscene songs and gestures and basically create a scene. So my neighbors forced my landlord to throw me out,” he says. “The next landlord was kinder but gave up after my stalkers started leaving used condoms and bottles of alcohol outside my door every day.”

Jai dropped out of college, moved to another city and joined a BPO. He refused not avail office vehicles for pick-ups or drops as he did not want anyone to find out where he lived.

“One day I went to watch a flash mob by members of the LGBT community. Some of my colleagues spotted me there and word spread that the ‘girly’ boy was gay.” A few months later Jai discovered that he had a stalker.

“This boy would wait for my train to arrive at the station, then follow me to the rickshaw stand and then follow my rickshaw on his bike all the while asking for my hourly rate,” recalls Jai. Once again, he was forced to relocate to another neighborhood for a fresh start. Luckily, nobody has bothered him in the last two years.

According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), LGBT youth are thrice as likely to face harassment and bullying as their non-LGBT peers. Bunny believes there are two reasons for this: Ignorance and patriarchy.

Even today, very few people understand the difference between sex, sexuality and gender. Many people don’t even know the difference between transgender and homosexual. A patriarchal hangover also means that people continue to bully and harass anyone who doesn’t fit the cisgender heterosexual male stereotype.

So here is this week’s Bunny Bumshaker challenge for all our readers: Whether you are a member of the community or an ally, I want you to find out the one big question or misconception your cisgender heterosexual friends have about the LGBT community. Then I want you to answer that question and clear their doubts. Finally, I want you to share your experience with Gaysi. Tell us whether it was awkward or liberating or hateful. Tell us if you cultivated a new ally. Tell us if we can count on you to spread knowledge and awareness and help our community, feel safer and stronger. Tell us everything in the comments section below. You can also email up at *************. We will feature three of the most interesting experiences in our blog posts.

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