What is an ally? This question is part of almost every presentation I do. We discuss this whether it’s a 20 minute presentation for 100 educators or a six hour workshop for 10-30. The answers often range from, “an ally is a friend,” to, “an ally is someone who has your back,” to, “an ally is someone who doesn’t judge.”
Yes. An ally is all of those things, but is not ONLY those things. GLSEN research shows that visible allies play a crucial role in ensuring that LGBTQ students feel safe in K-12 schools, but what if I tell you that being an ally in the ways described above isn’t enough?That in order to make a difference, you need to DO allyship?
My team and I often say, “Ally is a verb. It’s not a title you can claim for yourself. It is something you must do. To be an ally, you must DO allyship.”
So what does allyship look like?
It’s Sunday, and I missed church. Again. This time it was so I could sleep in, though usually it’s because of soccer.
I used to feel like I needed church, because I was seeking something… God, belonging, friends… I no longer need church for those reasons. I’ve found them all by following my calling.
I’m reminded every single day that I’m part of a bigger plan, and all I have to do is show up so the Universe can make the magic happen. I don’t even have to be confident, qualified, or have the right words. I just have to show up and everything falls into place. That’s the beauty of being called. God doesn’t call the qualified; God qualifies the called.
I think most people believe that following a calling means everything will be easy, though, and that isn’t at all the case. Showing up means vulnerability. For someone who would prefer to be invisible, it means visibility. It means taking risks, messing up, getting uncomfortable. It means allowing your heart to break wide open when tragedy happens, and trusting others to hold your heart tenderly when you expose it to them. It means learning to have patience and/or thick skin when others don’t understand your journey.
Following my calling also means that every night I get to go to bed knowing I’m living in my purpose. And SOMETIMES, when I’m lucky, I actually get to see the impact of my willingness to show up.
This week contained all of the ups and downs. I started the week in AWE and humbled by the opportunity to mentor three interns who chose to learn from me, because of the way I show up in the world. Later I cried so hard at injustice that I literally pulled a muscle in my neck, and showing up felt almost impossible but I did it anyway. Then I ended the week once again in awe after seeing the generosity of people who believe in our work.
One of my interns who is a kindred spirit and is just beginning to follow his calling asked me why he and I are so awkwardly awkward, and I told him, “It’s because we choose to live authentically. Others are wearing a mask that I refuse to wear,” and he found that profound and empowering.
So I might have missed church this week, but I saw God, created my own belonging, and was surrounded by friends who believe in me whether or not they believe in God and callings, so basically, I still did church.
“You are not the right person for this.”
The words were mine. Silent thoughts challenged the calling I felt tugging at my heart. I believed them. I stayed small and quiet.
The tugging at my heart became so painful I had no choice. I understood I was not the right person, but if I don’t act, who will? I looked, listened, waited. There were no other volunteers.
“Who are you to think you can change anything? You are nobody.”
Doubt was powerful, but I was born obstinate. I defied the doubt. Magic began to happen.
I know a lot of people are choosing a single word this year to focus their 2018 goals. I have a friend who’s chosen “simplify” and several others who’ve chosen “intentional” for their words. For them, this single word will become a mantra, a guide, to lead them through the year that they want to have.
As I ruminated on what word I would choose if I chose only one, the word “abundance” came into my brain space and wouldn’t leave. I could SEE and FEEL the abundance of positive energy the Universe contains that I want to tap into, like a Jedi learning to use the Force. Continue reading Living Abundantly in 2018
DEAR WHITE FRIENDS,
I have spent a lot of time recently having conversations about why Nazis are bad with people who identify as being conservative, on the right, or who call themselves moderates, who think that people on the left who protest (sometimes violently) are equally as bad as Nazis.
Trigger Warning: homophobia/transphobia
“I am proud to know you. Seeing you stand down hate with courage and resolve inspires me. XO”
A friend sent these words to me along with some pics she snapped on Friday after I spoke at the local Trans Day of Visibility rally and then engaged some protesters in conversation. She wanted me to see how she saw me, which was nice, because I mostly just see myself as a special kind of crazy. Continue reading Where Love Exists, Fear Cannot
“You can’t make everyone happy; you’re not pizza.”
I saw these words on a plaque a couple of months ago and I knew I had to have it. As a lifelong people-pleaser, I have spent the past several years learning the hard way that it’s simply impossible to please everyone. Add to that the fact that I love pizza and it became imperative that I see these words as a reminder Every. Single. Day.
My calling leads me to the center of discomfort on a daily basis. Enough outside my comfort zone where growth can happen, but not so far out that I require a blanket fort to cope. In this messy, awkward, super uncomfortable middle is where I’ve discovered that magic happens! It’s where I try to get others to join me in seeing the world in a new way. However, no matter how I try to engage people, I get judged by people standing outside of my arena who tell me I’m doing it wrong. I can be kind and empathetic. I can be hurt and pleading. I can be angry and confrontational (though rarely). No matter how I engage, someone always sees me as pushing away people who see things differently than I do. So what is left? Silence? I refuse.
Several months ago I realized I’d stopped hearing God. I’d gotten so deep into the busy work of my calling that I just didn’t notice the absence until the silence became deafening. I began to occasionally pray for some sort of indication that I wasn’t alone and that I was still on the right path, but things were going fairly smoothly, so I wasn’t too concerned. Weeks passed and still, radio silence.
In the meantime, awful things happened. The Pulse massacre. The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling. The shootings of Dallas Police officers. I was strong for friends until there was nothing left. I felt tapped out, emptied, and still God was nowhere to be found. Continue reading Growth, Change and Belonging
As a seeing person, I imagine if you are blind, you must rely on the experience of others to tell you about the appearance of the sky. You must trust that there are infinite visible differences between day and night, sunrise and sunset, all without being able to witness the heavens for yourself.
Similarly, if you are colorblind, you might have to trust other people’s truth when they tell you that shades of color exist that you cannot perceive with your own eyes. It’s not that your experience of color isn’t also valid, it’s just not the whole picture. You can’t even be aware of what you cannot see if you rely solely on your own perception of color. At some point you might realize you need to be open to the idea that you cannot see what many others experience in a different way, and you might decide to let them teach you about the way they perceive color.
Now hold on to that understanding of depending on others to see and understand the world more fully as we shift to a different type of seeing. Continue reading Please Let Me SEE