The late poet Gwendolyn Brooks said it best when she stated that 'truth tellers are not always palatable, there's a preference for candy bars.'
One of the things that irritates me is when the people in the GLBT community who prefer candy bars start hollering 'homophobe' or 'transphobe' when allies offer constructive criticism. Many times that criticism is not offensive, but is offered in the spirit of King-ian love in terms of helping to improve or contribute to the ultimate success of the movement they support.
It takes courage for a straight ally, knowing they will probably take a lot of crap for doing so to stand up and publicly declare that they are with us. Many of them see the interconnectedness of the issues that we are fighting for and realize those issues also impact them as well. It takes even more courage for one who is a politician or similar public figure to do so.
There were many whites, Asians, Latino/a's and GLBT people who helped us (and still do) in advancing the African-American civil rights struggle. Many straight people and transpeople are fighting for same gender marriage equality not only because it is a simple fairness issue, but they see their rights under attack as well. In many cases the anti gay marriage laws are being written to attack unmarried couples and transgender ones as well to mask the bigotry and make hem not as easy to overturn in state or federal courts.
One of the tendencies I see in the GLBT movement is when allies offer criticism, especially when it comes from people of color, cisgender people, or straight peeps, they immediately start screaming 'homophobe'. If the person happens to be a POC, transgender or SGL leveling the charges, they escalate into borderline racist or transphobic personal attacks or claim the person 'doesn't know what it's like to be gay' in order to silence the criticism they didn't want to hear.
The problem with that shortsighted knee jerk reaction is that potential allies who are on the fence about supporting you see the nekulturny negativity. It not only turns off the ally you attacked, it gives the opponents ammo to point to that they'll use against your cause. It also turns away people who were on the fence about supporting you. Many times they are closely observing how you treat the declared allies before they make their final decision as to whether to support your cause or not.
Transpeople are just as guilty as well, and we need to chill with that, too.
Every ally is a precious resource. They can speak for us in settings that we're not able to reach or talk us up in their influence circles. Every person they can get to see the light that GLBT rights equals their rights is one less person signing a petition for an anti gay referendum, voting against us if a referendum occurs or standing up against homophobic/transphobic bigotry and intolerance in their own lives.
So it's time to work smarter, not harder. It's a sign of the maturity level of your movement if you can take the criticism and make the necessary changes. But if you insist on chomping white chocolate candy bars and ignoring valid criticism, sooner or later your movement will start to develop truth decay.
You'll also end up alienating the very people you can't afford to piss off.
(Originally posted at TransGriot)