Do you ever think about the assumptions that you make? I don’t think assumptions are always bad, but recently I’ve been thinking I need to take a closer look at mine because of a recent conversation.

I’m working on a blog that explores what members of the LGBTQIA+ community think an Ally of the community should look like. When I asked my daughter this question, the reply was, “Are you talking about members inside the community or outside the community?” It took me a second to understand what they were saying. It never occurred to me that members of the LGBTQIA+ community would not feel allyship towards one another. 

We all make assumptions. The trouble is that they are all based on a belief system, not on proof. Sometimes they are innocuous (I assume that if I create a chore chart, the house will be cleaner. Lol.) Other times they might cause misunderstandings or even harm. (I assume that if you didn’t text me back that you’re mad at me or don’t like me so I’m not going to speak to you again.) 

As I continue to explore what it means to be an Ally to this community, I am amazed at the number of incorrect assumptions I have made and grateful to have the opportunity to correct my thinking. I decided to create a list (with the help of a few community members) of assumptions made about the LGBTQIA+ community, some of mine (now corrected) are listed here. Are you surprised by any of them?

  • We assume that everyone is straight until they say differently, or, “come out”. 
  • We assume that once someone “realizes they are gay”, they will “come out of the closet”
  • We make assumptions about the characteristics and behaviors of different members of the community. Gay men are… or lesbians are…and so forth. 
  • We assume that every member of the LGBTQIA+ community feels supported and loved by the community and that it’s easy to fit in.
  • We assume that all members of the LGBTQIA+ community think the same way.
  • We assume gender identity and pronouns based on appearance
  • We assume a person's sexuality based on their appearance
  • We assume every member of the LGBTQIA+ community feels the same way about gay rights, Pride, or other issues relevant to the community.

I am definitely more apt to point out other people's assumptions and way less aware of my own. I’m convinced that embracing challenges to my own bias, talking to folks, reading, and most of all listening, is the only way to move forward towards removing assumptions, which might, as a result, create better understanding and closer relationships for everyone.

I’m looking forward to interviewing members of the LGBTQIA+ community to learn more about what they think the role of an Ally looks like, and maybe learn more about my own assumptions in the process. If you have assumptions of your own to add to the list, please let me know!

Thanks as always for being part of this conversation. 

With much love,

Ellin (she/her)

April 18, 2022 — Rebecca Porterfield

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