By Fernando Z. López Executive Director San Diego Pride
Do not retreat. Our movement needs allies. The world just lost a significant one. The murder of Lauri Carleton, a strong ally and supporter, has shaken us all. She was defending our flag. Our right to exist. Her right to free speech. She was met with gun violence.
As LGBTQ people, we have been sounding the alarm about the increase in targeted violence and hate towards us for years. More recently, it has become clear that our out, visible, and vocal allies are increasingly becoming targets in their own families, places of employment, and communities. Do not retreat.
Our allies have walked alongside us, fought on the front lines with us, and shared in our celebrations and grief. Allyship is earned by those accomplices who fervently work for our collective liberation. Allies come in all kinds. They are the teacher who knows what resources to provide. They are the friend who stops the bully at school. The insightful adult who sees us often before we see ourselves. They are the coworker who speaks up for you even when you’re not in the room. They are the people who often feel safe enough and brave enough to speak truth to power when we aren’t or can’t. Do not retreat.
In a year where LGBTQ and allied organizations called out that fear was driving away supporters locally and nationally, we again ask of our allies and of ourselves – Do not retreat.
Our fear is understandable. Our caution is needed. We are right to be worried and somehow our resolve must be unwavering. As queer people, we know all too well the fine line we walk every day of being visible while remaining vigilant. It’s exhausting. It shouldn’t have to be this way. Lauri should still be alive. So many of us should be. Do not retreat.
Every room we are in is an opportunity for allyship. The conversations we have at our conference tables and dinner tables matter. Our places of work and worship, community, and commerce are all opportunities for allyship. Our work, our lives are all intersectional and present opportunities for cross-movement allyship. As we ask our allies to stay by our side, so must we show up for communities outside our own lived experience. Do not retreat.
For every act of hatred, let’s amplify acts of love tenfold. For every flag torn down, let’s raise ten more. For every ally and community member lost, let us commit to honoring them with action. Please take a moment this week to thank the allies in your life. We couldn’t do this without them. We will not retreat. We will remember that, no matter how big or small, every step we take, every voice we amplify, every act of solidarity, brings us closer to a world where all of us Thrive!
Fernando Z. López
San Diego Pride