What’s so important about Ally Week?
For the people in the LGBT community, it’s important to let each other– as well as straights– know that everyone can be allies in the fight against discrimination. That’s why Ally Week was established.
Unlike other Pride and LGBT events, this isn’t just for queer folk but for everyone. Straight and cisgender allies are also encouraged to learn about what they can do to support their LGBT peers.
Ally Week for kids
Set up in 2005, Ally Week is an annual national student-organized effort to encourage their fellow students to be allies of the LGBT community. For this year, it will be held on September 26 to 30.
First created and now supported by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) and the Gay-Straight Alliances, this particular week provides opportunities for students to learn about the meaning of allyship even while taking down stereotypes.
More importantly, it underlines the importance of peer support among the youth when standing up against acts of discrimination and exclusion like bullying, harassment, and verbal abuse.
Ally Week for adults
But being an ally of the LGBT community isn’t just for kids, it’s also for adults too.
Speaking on the importance of being an ally, the LGBT media advocacy organization GLAAD noted the importance of allies: “Allies are some of the most effective and powerful voices of the LGBT movement.”
“Not only do allies help people in the coming-out process, they also help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance and mutual respect,” the GLAAD said.
Because of this, a lot of notable figures have pledged themselves to be allies to the LGBT community and are using their influence in support of the fight against discrimination.
These include celebrities like Ellen Page, Kerry Washington, Danielle Radcliffe, Anne Hathaway, Brad Pitt, and Ellen DeGeneres, to name a few.
A notable Ally: Bea Arthur
One of the more prominent allies of the LGBT community was the TV actress Bea Arthur, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 86. However, she had left behind $300,000 to the Ali Forney Center (AFC).
Arthur, who was also an indisputable gay icon, had been a longtime contributor to the AFC and often spoke about the organization in interviews.
“That such an icon would stand up for us and would use the power as a celebrity to call attention to the needs of homeless LGBT youth was invaluable,” said Carl Siciliano, AFC Center Director.
As an organization that helps and houses at-risk and homeless LGBT youth, the AFC will undoubtedly benefit from Arthur’s generous donation as her contribution will fund a new 18-bed homeless shelter.
This shelter will open in 2017 and will be named after the actress.