In early 2017, I joined a little committee titled, The GALA Ally Committee (GALA=Gay and Lesbian Alliance of North Texas). At the time, we were made up of a few members who wanted to make a difference. Fast forward to having had recently finished up our last quarterly meeting of the year, we have grown and made more progress than I could have imagined.
The GALA Ally Committee is made up of community allies that simply want to do more to educate our local community about being a LGBTQ+ ally. We have created a two-hour training that focuses on gaining insight into personal and societal levels of privilege, learning current and correct terminology, and having a safe space for open and honest discussion. During the first part of the training, the participants engage in a privilege walk where audience members will have an opportunity to answer questions that relate specifically to privilege. I have participated in the privilege walk several times now, and it is quite powerful. No matter your background, experiences, and life story, you will feel the impact of the exercise.
The second part of the training involves a group discussion around learning correct terminology and discussing various everyday scenarios in which we witness or are a part of situations in which we may need to be more helpful in being an ally. What I enjoy most about these discussions and educational tools is that we can be open and honest. Sometimes, we simply are unsure of what we “should do,” how we “should respond,” or how we “should react.” Each training teaches me something different that I can take back and utilize within my local community.
We offer these free trainings to schools, businesses, churches, or anyone who may be interested in learning more about being a LGBTQ+ ally. I had no idea that when I said yes to joining the committee that it would end up being one of the most exciting and fulfilling groups to be a part of. We strive to be a voice that will be heard. I firmly believe that we are making a difference, one training at a time.