In Peter’s Declaration, We Learn the True Definition of Allyship

Today’s reflection is from Bondings 2.0 contributor Sarah Cassidy.

The liturgical readings for the 4th Sunday of Easter are available here.

The term ‘ally’ has grown in popularity over the last few years, especially when it comes to LGBTQIA+ equality. With the nationwide increase in anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, the need for strong and vocal allies is more important than ever. But what does it mean to be a true ally?

In this week’s first liturgical reading, Peter stands before the Sanhedrin, an ancient Jewish judicial body. Imagine yourself in his position. How would you feel? Nervous, scared, intimidated? I know that all of these emotions would rush through me. Yet, Peter is instead “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and he is firmly able to declare his faith in Jesus in front of some of the highest members of society. He has no hesitation and no fear.

In this moment of uncertainty, Peter’s unwavering belief in Jesus is admirable. It is easy to back down in times of stress, to quake in our values, or to simply follow the majority. We see this in modern performative activism: activism done to boost social capital rather than to genuinely support a cause. Many people are willing to hold a Pride flag or post a pro-LGBTQIA+ message on social media, but when it comes to truly standing with LGBTQIA+ folks, many fail to succeed. Not everyone is willing to call out a homophobic friend, protect a trans or nonbinary person from physical harm, or advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights in political spaces.

What if our allyship and activism were instead unwavering, just like Peter’s belief in Jesus?

I imagine a world where all LGBTQIA+ individuals feel loved and supported by at least one person in their life. This ally has the strength to not only accept the LGBTQIA+ individual unconditionally, but to actively defend them from a homophobic and transphobic world. This love should not be a privilege. It should be a human right.

When I think about my own journey, I am thankful for all the people who have supported me. Not once have I felt unlovable or unworthy because of my queerness. This should be the experience of every queer person, but in reality, I am one of the lucky ones. I am here because I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and family who believe in LGBTQIA+ existence.

As individuals and as a society, we must work to become better allies, not just by making more posts on social media. It means working alongside the LGBTQIA+ community through organizing and advocacy efforts. It means showing up at rallies, verbally calling out all forms of homophobia and transphobia, and supporting LGBTQIA+ initiatives. It means listening to the needs of LGBTQIA+ folks instead of making assumptions and educating ourselves on the reality of living in a heteronormative world.

Allyship should not only include those who are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community—it should include those in the community as well. Although I identify as queer, I also identify as a white, middle-class, cisgender woman. These privileged identities protect me from the harm that many other queer people endure, such as trans folks or people of color. Therefore, I have a duty to use my power in a way that promotes the rights of those who face deeper marginalization.

My hope is that all people, including myself, have the courage to be like Peter. If we are able to embrace the Holy Spirit, speak from the heart, and boldly proclaim the inherent dignity of LGBTQIA+ folks, then we will one day be true allies.

Sarah Cassidy (she/her), New Ways Ministry, April 21, 2024

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