I'm tired of having allies.
Don't get me wrong. I need support. I need a whole lot of help! I thrive on support. But especially in this age of social media, it is so easy to support from afar.
I'm wholly culpable for doing this. Someone is working hard for a cause I believe in, I'm not just going to like it, I'm going to love it and leave a comment! Someone is showcasing their heart vulnerably, let me like it and share it! Someone is doing the deep work of inquiry, allow me to direct message you!
Nothing is wrong with likes, sharing, retweeting, and the like. I would argue that it hurts when it stops there.
I don't want a colleague. I don't want an ally. I want an accomplice with me in the trenches.
I want someone who is right alongside me and not merely in the metaphorical or digital sense. When I fight for making it better today for LGBTQ+ teachers and students, I want you to join the fight with me. Have you ever heard of a battle where one person goes against many but, don't worry, because that one person has many people on the side cheering for them?
If you have ever been that one person, you know how lonely it feels. To me, it feels like I'm being tolerated instead of fully accepted. It feels like people are driving around the block without pulling into the parking lot. It feels like we are making sanitary what at the moment is incredibly messy. It feels like I'm being told, “ I will support you but not if this is traced back to me. I will support you to a point but not to the depths that you need it.” I'm not throwing a pity party. I am stating what I need. I'm also saying that if you cannot be an accomplice with me or want me to be an accomplice with you, I need to move on.
I'm not here to judge your heart. I am here to get to work. I'm here to make it better today.
I need and want to surround myself with people who hear that and get giddy for me in their way. I need people in my life who immediately respond, “ I am here for you. I see you. I'm right on your side.” I have patience for days. (I am a former kindergarten teacher after all! It’s one of my superpowers!) And, I also regard my self-worth higher than I appreciate my patience. I have empathy for days. And, I consider my profound purpose in life more elevated than I view my insight. I know I've lost friends in the process. I know I've been missed in the process. I understand that the process has been incredibly lonely at times as I am, like Brene Brown puts, braving into the wilderness.
You don't need to go to extremes though. I thought I did when I first came out.
The deep feeling and fear of “if you're not for me, you're against me” were ringing loud in my cells. After a good six months, I defriended the majority of my “allies” on Facebook while telling myself that if they were my friends, they would re-friend me and understand.
Do you see what I forgot to do though? I forgot to make my needs known. I didn't express it clear boundary. (“What I can do is be friends with you and support you. What I can't do is question whether you are a friend of mine or if you support me being a proud gay man.”) I drew a line in the sand so quickly that I guess that most people didn't even have a chance to see the line or understand why the line was there in the first place.
I was reacting out of my wounds instead of practically and compassionately responding to my deep needs. I was not only wanting allies but also accomplices. You see, I was afraid of my allies. My allies were the people in my life who told me, “Someday, my child will call you Uncle. We will always be a family of chosen friends.” Those same allies never spoke to me again after I came out. Those same allies never asked me, “What do you need? How can I support you? I can't imagine what you're going through. How can I be here or there for you?” In fact, a very select few were willing to be my accomplices. ( I am eternally grateful to those who did though. Thank you.)
I have done the same. I'm not writing to pick on these once allies. I'm writing to make sure that my allies know that I want to be their accomplice.
I want to be with them in the trenches. I want to make it impossible for them not to see that I am there for them. Right alongside them. I'm writing to make sure that you know that a badass changemaker is not only an ally of his or her or their community, friends, families, students, and surroundings. A badass changemaker is an accomplice in radical acceptance, restorative justice, and brave empowerment.
A badass changemaker knows that there's no other way.
A badass changemaker is an expert at finding other accomplices in her or his or their movement of living with the deepest of purposes. A badass changemaker does not hide but calls for truth and honesty from and for those they work alongside.
If you are reading this blog post, you are now my accomplice. (Imagine my giddiest of laughs!) Welcome to this vulnerable accomplice-hood. I know you're up for the task. I know that like me you crave more than an ally. I am now your accomplice as well. We are in this together. Badass changemakers are always accomplices to each other.