By CELINA GERBIC & LEE GRANADOS
Girl. Friend. Female. Mom. Tomboy. When we were in elementary school, there wasn’t a name for what we were or who we were friends with. When we were in college, it was a term that was equally offensive to both us and our gay friends, “fag hag.” Thankfully there is now a term (do we thank the PC movement for this?) that we can proudly use: straight ally. We didn’t actually realize that the term had come into use, we just simply went on doing what we’ve always been doing, which is not letting labels get in the way. Yet this is one label that we’re proud is sticking.
Our children have grown up in Dupont Circle, a welcoming community of all groups, and do not see the need for such a label. To them, everyone is equal, or should be. They have friends with two dads, friends with two moms, friends with one mom or dad, and yes, even friends with both a mom and a dad. They don’t question that diversity. One of the first weddings they attended was the wedding of their friend’s two dads, right after D.C. started allowing same-sex marriages. So why the need for a label like “straight ally?”
Having grown up in a world with a great deal of prejudice and a best friend who is gay (though he wasn’t saying that at the time — he was definitely not out), we recognize the need for straight allies. Whether you like having a label or not, it’s vital to stand up for what you believe in, and support people who should have the same rights as me and other straight people, but using the term “straight ally” goes beyond that and actually shows your support. Adding the term “ally” says so much. It says we support our friends, our colleagues, our community. It tells our children, and others, that we don’t want to just be on the sidelines, looking on, but rather, completely involved.
And involved we are — as straight allies. After working on Straight Ally Outreach and fundraising for the Point Foundation for the last several years, Celina joined Point’s Washington, D.C. regional board of trustees. Point Foundation provides scholarships and mentoring to LGBTQ students, allowing them to achieve their full academic and leadership potential despite the obstacles often put before them. Lee spent time building an inclusive community at Ross Elementary School, running logistics for Capital Pride, and starting the 17th Street Festival that has embraced the whole community, old and new. Participating in Point’s Regional Leadership Forum and hearing the scholars speak at the annual D.C. Cornerstone Event has shown just how important it is to include straight allies in supporting these missions. Lee saw that embracing families in a small public school was the best way to educate her children and other families on the benefits of looking past labels.
As members of the host committee for the Point Foundation’s upcoming Cornerstone Event in May, we believe everyone deserves the right to an education, and this is something that everyone should be supporting, regardless of your label. It also sets the stage for our future generations, including our children, who are proud of their straight ally moms. As straight allies, we owe it to our children to proudly support our friends, colleagues and relatives. There may be a day when labels are no longer necessary, but for now, we’re sticking with “straight ally.”
Celina Gerbic serves on the Point Foundation’s Washington, D.C. Regional Board of Trustees. She is co-chair of the Trevor Project DC Ambassadors Committee and a board member of Urban Neighborhood Alliance, and works for School for Friends. Lee Granados works for Pacers Events as the Community and Outreach Development Liaison for all the events in D.C. She serves on the board for Girls On the Run and UNA and is co-chair of the 17th Street Festival. The Point Foundation’s Annual Cornerstone Event will take place on May 9 at Room & Board. Tickets are available at pointfoundation.org/dc2013.