Apr 112004
 
Authors: Joelle Milholm

An ally, by definition, is one in helpful association with

another, according to The American Heritage College Dictionary.

An ally pledges his or her support for a person, group or cause,

and in doing so, promises to be there through action.

It is on this principle that the new Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,

Transgender Ally program is centered. Founders Lauren Hick, Irina

Krauchenka, Matthew McClurg and GLBT Student Services staff member

Xanthe Kilzer have built the program based on tolerance.

“We want to create a more accepting environment on campus where

everyone is equal,” Kilzer said. “If people know other people are

allies, it might help them to become allies themselves.”

The program has attracted between 65 to 70 members in just more

than one month of operation.

“There wasn’t a place for allies on campus and every other

campus has one,” said Hicks, who originally came up with the idea.

“I just wanted to get to know other allies and help promote

acceptance.”

Other Colorado campuses that have programs similar to Allies

include the University of Colorado, Adams State College,

Metropolitan State College of Denver and the Community College of

Denver. There are also dozens of Ally programs around the

nation.

As an ally, members must agree to a code of conduct with five

major points. The first principle is to not discriminate against

people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, race,

age, disability, national origin or other such factors. Allies also

must promote and maintain a safe campus, community and world for

everyone, placing special emphasis on helping the GLBT

community.

Allies also promise to honor confidentiality and the privacy of

others, value equality and tolerance and respect everyone.

Matt Harris, a sophomore civil engineering major, became an ally

because he has friends in the GLBT community.

“I thought it would be a good way to show my support,” Harris

said. “I want to participate in getting information about the

community out to the public and disseminate that to eliminate all

the misconceptions about GLBT people.”

Harris’ concerns lie in society’s views on people who are seen

as different.

“I believe that the cultural, ethnic and sexual textiles which

makes each of us unique should be celebrated, not profaned,” Harris

said. “For too long society has been foreshadowed by a common

prejudice that interprets difference as a deficiency of humanity.

It must be recognized that what identifies us as individuals

ultimately cannot obscure the quality that we all share as human

beings.”

Harris, along with other allies, will carry out his duty not

only by advocating recognition of the GLBT community, but also by

developing good relationships with GLBT community members.

“I fulfill my promises as an ally through compassion and

edification. I am here to provide personal support for GLBT

individuals and promoting awareness to the public,” Harris said. “I

am not here to question anyone’s beliefs, but merely to provide

them with information about the lives and the social conditions of

GLBT individuals.”

Allies will be taking part in Transgender, Bisexual, Gay,

Lesbian Awareness Days (T’BGLAD) today through April 18 as a way to

spread its message. The Allies will be hosting an information

session on Tuesday at noon in rooms 203-205 of the Lory Student

Center. T’BGLAD is a program designed specifically for raising

awareness of the GBLT community by offering a wide variety of

events, including multiple speeches from GLBT individuals, a

spiritual panel, a game called “guess the gay,” a drag show and a

GLBT community dinner.

Jane Hickey, who became an ally at a Student Organization of

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender meeting about a month ago,

became an ally after living with two members of the GLBT

community.

“Living with my roommates totally opened my eyes to the issues

that the GLBT community faces and the realization that it can’t

just be them fighting those injustices,” Hickey said. “You have to

help by having straight people to help facilitate those

issues.”

Hick and Kilzer have designed programs to help allies carry out

their promises through different steps. The first step is awareness

and accessing resources.

“We have GLBT share their experiences so allies can become aware

of the community and discover their own stance,” Kilzer said.

Another step is to educate the allies with knowledge of GLBT

facts, statistics, culture and laws.

“Once we educate ourselves, we can go out and educate others,”

Kilzer said.

The program’s effectiveness is not a question for Hickey, but

when the effects will be seen remains questionable.

“It starts out small, but in the long term it could make a

difference. Short term, it could be really discouraging,” Hickey

said. “There are always going to be people who are not going to

change their minds, but if just two or three people come to a

meeting and are influenced and can see that GLBT individuals are

normal people just like everyone else, that is making a difference.

I think that the only way to influence people is exposure to the

gay community.”

With GLBT issues continually becoming more and more

controversial in American society, allies realize that their job

will not always be easy.

“I am readily aware that there exists a great deal of ardor and

conflict in the issues that we are presenting and that a certain

degree of vehemence can be encountered while we are trying to do

our job,” Harris said. “If I were ever confronted by such a

circumstance, I would no doubt be frustrated, but I would try to

recognize the opinions of my antithetical counterparts and race

them with reason.

In order to become an ally, people can go to the GLBTSS office

for more information and to sign up for the group’s listserv.

“We want to create social change by changing attitudes,” Hick

said.

Box: The Ally program holds meetings every other Thursday at 6

p.m. in room 103 in the Eddy Building. It also meets every other

Wednesday with SOGLBT at 6 p.m. in room 207 of the Lory Student

Center.

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