I dedicate my CU Savit Scholar Award (received for my research into the sports climate for LGBTQ-NCAA athletes) in honor of George Floyd, Pride month and allyship.
In 1978, Harvey Milk urged all gay and lesbian teachers and their allies in the California Public School system to come out to defeat proposition 6, which would have banned out teachers from the classroom The movement gained unstoppable momentum and ultimate success once allies added their voice to the cause. Professional runner and LGBTQ activist Nicki Hiltz defines an ally as, “someone who is visible in their support.” Coming out takes a great deal of courage. Coming out as an ally takes this same courage. There are many and beautiful ways to be an ally. But all require the act of bravery that coming out does.
I recently read an Instagram post by Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the Norweigan middle-distance prodigy, supporting Oslo Pride. It deeply touched me. As a gay athlete, it made me feel seen and legitimate. That is because a straight white, sports star made the brave choice to use his power to support my legitimacy as a gay runner in the sports world. The times in my life that I have felt the most alone and inadequate were the times when my allies were far and few. Conversely, the times when I have succeeded and felt belonging have been when my allies were near and abundant. My allies are the reason I feel comfortable writing all of this. I know powerful people who love me have my back.
There is a great call for needed ally-ship because of the racist atrocity committed upon George Floyd and his family. This is because ally-ship holds enormous power to make long-lasting change. So I urge us to come out. I urge us to come out as allies. On the other side of fear, and stigma there is hope, there is love and there is power. So come out as an ally for racial justice, come out as an ally for LGBTQ equality, come out as an ally for women’s rights, come out as an ally for disabled challenges. Be an ally as a friend. Be an ally as a teacher or a professor. Be an ally as a police officer, as a judge, as a jury. Be an ally as a district attorney, as a public defender. Be an ally as a landlord, as a neighbor. Be an all as a parent, as a sibling. Be an ally as a teammate, as a coach. Be an ally as a student. Be an ally as a boss, as a coworker. Be an ally as a small business or a multinational corporation. Be you and find your authentic expression of ally-ship. But don’t wait, be an ally and be visible. Akin to the California Public School System of 1978, we will find that oppression doesn’t really work when no one is there to participate, and when we are all working to stop it.