Picture yourself in class at Booth. You may be halfway between taking notes and refreshing your Instagram feed. At some point, you look across the room. One of your classmates has a purple sticker on her name tent with a rainbow flag on the bottom. You read on the sticker the word “Ally.” You may not realize it, but you’ve just taken the first step toward becoming an OUTreach ally!
Wait, hold up. What’s an ally? An ally is someone who takes action to advance LGBTQ equality and inclusion. We traditionally think of these as straight members of the Booth community, but in reality, we can all be effective allies for other communities. A gay man can take steps to be a good ally to the transgender community, or educate himself on issues that face lesbians that might be different than his own experience. It’s all about being engaged with the issues and showing and voicing support where it’s appropriate.
Why is it important to have an engaged, visible population of LGBTQ allies at Booth? Aren’t people generally supportive of LGBT rights? Well, in addition to the fact that it’s helpful for members of OUTreach (Booth’s LGBTQ group) to see support at school, self-identifying as an ally will prompt you to pay more attention to issues that affect the OUTreach community. As an OUTreach ally at Booth you might come to an event we host, or speak up if you hear an insensitive or uninformed comment from a co-worker or classmate. It may seem simple, but just thinking about these issues and telling other people about them is a great way to contribute.
What does OUTreach do to boost visibility and define what it means to be an ally on campus? Last spring, we did a series of posters of Boothies holding “I’m an ally” signs, and made sure they were all over the Harper Center. This year we’re adding something new, and we kicked off our ally sticker visibility campaign this winter. We’re distributing small ally stickers for students to display their affiliation as an OUTreach ally. We’ve seen them on cell phones, laptops, name tents, coffee mugs, and a lot of other places so far, which is really encouraging. Our hope is that by the end of the quarter, you won’t be able to look around a Booth classroom without seeing a clear message that the student body supports the OUTreach community.
We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish thus far, but we still have work to do. We want to continue our educational programming and help Booth students understand the latest issues in LGBTQ rights. We also want to engage our international community, knowing that the experience of being gay in other parts of the world might vary from here in the US. And of course, we want to make sure that OUTreach’s annual Pink Party this spring is the craziest night of the year! Stay tuned and we hope to see you at an ally event soon!
Phil Caruso is the outgoing Ally Co-Chair for OUTreach, Booth’s LGBTQA student group, and a second year in the JD/MBA program concentrating in general management and managerial and organizational behavior. At Booth he’s also been a LEAD facilitator and a co-chair of the Media, Entertainment and Sports Group. He loves cooking, Boston sports teams, and hunting for delicious street food in far away countries. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.