I saved this one for second to last since I am on the presenting team for Safe Space training at UNF. I identify as a straight ally.
Through being on the training team, I have learned a lot more about myself and what it means to be an ally for the LGBT community. Going into this process, I knew a lot more about the L & G components of the acronym. I knew a little about the B and even less about the T. I have friends who are Trans*, yet did not know much. Over time, I was able to gain more knowledge about these other populations and became more comfortable presenting the material.
Initially, I was scared to present because I felt like an imposter. Since I do not hold one of these identities, would I be seen as credible in presenting on the information and the topic? What frightened me the most was the possibility of presenting to someone who is LGBT and getting something wrong or making a mistake. I did not want to seem like I was unknowledgeable or invalidate someone’s experience because I was sharing incorrect information.
As more trainings occurred, I became more comfortable with the content. I was able to include parts of my own story and journey about becoming an ally for the LGBT community. I was able to explain how I changed over time. I talk about how my past actions were not inclusive to this community, and that is a big reason I now enjoy doing these trainings. I appreciate the opportunity to potentially assist others on their journey to being an ally for the LGBT community.
As I said, I have learned the most about the T component of the LGBT community since coming on the team. This has been a major focus of the trainings since I came on board, and will continue to be important especially in the light of recent laws passed or on the legislative floor in many states. I recently had a lengthy conversation with a Trans* individual about HB2 in North Carolina and the Target boycotts. I know that I would not have been able to have that same conversation when I was in college, over a decade ago.
The journey has been long to be an ally of the LGBT community, but it is nothing in comparison to what many of these individuals face. I have had to unlearn a lot of my previous notions from when I was growing up. I have been successful in doing so, but still have a lot more to learn. I want to take the next step and be an advocate when and where I can for the community. At the same time, I realize and understand that I need to be invited into that space and role by the community. My hope is to start small in this process. Being a part of the training team is one of those ways I have started. I would like to get more involved on a political level with this work, so I am starting to seek those opportunities out as well.