Leone Kraus

Interview with Christine Macdonald: We Talk Equality and What it Means to Be a Straight Ally

Filed By Leone Kraus | January 13, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: Christine Macdonald, NOH8, straight ally

I noted in a previous post that the active and involved participation of straight allies is critical to winning LGBT equal rights. People have found it through search terms such as; "straight ally," "how to be involved straight ally," "how do I know if I'm a straight ally," and "where can I meet other straight allies?" All of these search terms and many more have directed readers to my blog. This post has now become one of my most-read pieces. Because of the interest in my straight ally piece, I decided to interview one of my favorite straight allies to see what they were doing in the fight for LGBT equal rights.

Interview with active and involved straight ally, Christine Macdonald

I just discovered you're from Hawaii! I've always wanted to go to there but haven't yet. Why in the world did you decide to leave Hawaii for California?

I love this question because it reminds me how lucky I am to have been raised in paradise. Although the scenery was tranquil, my life at the time was anything but, and by my twenties I felt trapped. One of my best friends (already living on the mainland) convinced me to leave the island so I could make a fresh start.

Due to the recent suicides, bullying in the LGBTQ community has been in the mainstream media a lot lately. I understand from my research that you were a victim of bullying in middle school. Do you mind sharing with us what happened?

The recent news is heartbreaking and it brings back memories of friends in school that I know had a rough time. As a minority in Hawaii, I did get picked on as a Haole (white person) which was no fun, but I also developed Grade Four Nodulocystic Acne Vulgaris (severe cystic acne) at age thirteen. I was called Freddy Kruger and Moon Face, among other things. I tried to numb my pain with drugs and alcohol, and also contemplated suicide. Although our backgrounds are different, I have tremendous empathy for the LGBTQ community who have suffered similar verbal abuse. I know first-hand how words can affect your self-esteem and mental state, especially at such a young age.

One of my favorite things about you is that you're what I would call an active and involved straight ally. I personally feel that the active involvement of straight allies is key to winning full equal rights for the LGBTQ community. Before we go further, I want to clarify whether or not you identify yourself as an active and involved straight ally.

Thank you so much! I identify as a straight ally who is active in the gay community. I've been doing my part to raise awareness of equality for nearly twenty years. A close friend of mine passed away in the early 90's from an AIDS related illness and his partner of seven years was not allowed to visit him in the Intensive Care Unit. The injustice was palpable and from that moment, I haven't stopped.

You and I met via Twitter through your work on the NOH8 campaign. (Yay!) Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved with the campaign, what it's like working with Jeff and Adam and what you're doing to help them?

Let's hear it for social media! I first found out about the NOH8 Campaign through a You Tube clip a friend emailed me and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. After the open shoot I attended in 2009, I watched the campaign evolve and was thrilled for co-founders Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley. I didn't know them personally, but they really went out of their way to make me (and everyone) feel welcome and I have grown to love them as social media brothers.

I loved seeing celebrities join the campaign but wondered if a non-celebrity like me could do more. I started The Ellen NOH8 Wish as a result of that. The Ellen NOH8 Wish is a social media campaign with thousands of supporters from all corners of the globe. My mission statement is simple: for Ellen and Portia to have a NOH8 photo taken on The Ellen Show. This will not only bring a larger audience to Proposition 8, it can literally shift the views of millions who may not already understand why marriage equality is so crucial to humanity. I am a huge fan of Ellen and Portia so to me, the idea of them joining the campaign makes perfect sense.

If you don't mind, I would love for you to share some information about your relationship.

I am living with an amazing man I met on a blog three years ago. We started emailing, then one thing led to another and here we are. Kevin is an FTM (female to male) transgender and is the founder of The SFM Project: an on-line community of unique individuals from around the globe who are doing their part to make the most out of life, no matter what their story. He is also currently working on a transgender-themed reality program that he hopes to announce in 2011. Kevin and I share the same core values with love and life, and it makes the fight for equality even more special when you have someone by your side. We don't see color, gender, race or anything like that. We just see the person.

You have a special greeting card that you started specifically for the LGBTQ community. How did the idea to create this come about and can you please tell me how can I get one?

I have a few, actually! After countless frustrating visits to the greeting card aisles, I could never find the right card that spoke the right message to communicate to my LGBTQ friends, so I started to create my own. Using candid snapshots of my friends through the years, these unique greeting cards became great personal trinkets to share and Another way to say it Greetings was born. I am still working out the kinks of this project and as soon as we are up and running, you will definitely know. For now you can follow this project on Facebook and Twitter (@GLBTCards).

You're currently working on a memoir about your time spent as an exotic dancer. Could you tell us a little bit about your story and when you anticipate that it will be available?

The common thread of my manuscript is how far people will go to find their self-worth, and that feeling beautiful really does come from within. Although I went to extremes, what I took from my experiences and discoveries are universal.

Most people think of coconuts and surfboards when thinking of Hawaii. My book takes you past the palm trees, behind the paradise curtain to a grittier type of lifestyle full of drugs, sex and tons of rock and roll. Also, I have a sense humor about my story so there are tongue-in-cheek moments weaved throughout the pages, which provide a delicate balance of comedy in the face of adversity.

I am currently seeking literary representation and hope to share a publication date in the near future thank you for asking!

I can't thank you enough for allowing me the opportunity to ask you a few questions. I only touched on a few points. Before we go, I'd love it if you could offer ideas to straight allies who may be reading this on how they can get involved in the fight for LGBTQ equal rights.

As human beings, we must all strive to break apart the compartmentalization of straight and gay so I hope that every straight person is an ally.

Joining a local AIDS Walk (www.aidswalk.org) in your community is a great way to meet people and learn about what you can do. Also, The NOH8 Campaign (www.noh8campaign.com) is a phenomenal organization. Both groups involve and welcome every person who wants to make a difference, regardless of background. You just have to believe everyone deserves to be treated equally without judgment, which when you think about it, isn't that the foundation of love?

Because this is a social media blog, I do need to ask you to share what social media platforms readers can use to get in touch with you. :)

Thank you so much for the interview and chance to speak about equality. I can be found on the following sites:

Website: www.poletosoul.com

Blog: http://thatgalkiki.blogspot.com/

Facebook: Christine Macdonald Facebook

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thatgalkiki


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Is a female partner of a trans man a straight ally? I think she can step outside of that boundary and proudly claim at least a wee bit of "queer." :)

Kudos to Christine for being an ally, we need them. But (and I know Bil might have apoplexy mentioning this) allies should know that a trans person is not "a transgender" or "transgendered". Let's turn that sideways and say, what if she were in a same sex relationship and said, "I'm involved with a gay". Part of being an ally (and speaking out for the people for whom you're an ally) is really listening to how that community addresses themselves (and granted, that's not always easy in the trans community).

That's not just an ally issue, but also an editing error. Thanks for pointing that out.

Bil - my boyfriend is a straight guy and a very strong ally to the LGBT community both through his relationship with me and his gay brother.

He's not upset if people thing he's "a little queer" or "kinda bi" or whatever, since he doesn't see that being a gay or bi man is a bad thing. It's one thing when people in mainstream society make this conclusion - however, it is frustrating for him when people within the LGBT community don't allow him the option to self-identify in a way that is true for him. He is a man who currently and historically loves (I hope) women, thus he is a straight man. A cis gay man who loves a trans gay man isn't a "little straight" or even particularly bi (unless he identifies as Bi already).

Good points!

Isn't it funny how we as humans always try to put people in these tiny little boxes that we never fit into?

OK, huge confession on my part - and a small point of personal shame. When I was a new little trans girl and I met my first transsexual lesbian I thought "why not just stay a man and sleep with women?"

So, yeah - boxes exist and we all reflexively pack them.

*laughs*

I heard the same thing from ppl. Unlike them, I am assuming you now realize it is because who you want be romantic and/sexual with is a totally different thing from who you see yourself as.

I haven't been to your blog lately, am glad you posted, reminds me to go take a look again!

Carol :)

Totally, boxes can be so useful but at the same time poisonous.

I do want to say it is nice to read an interview about an ally who has a rather strong connection to the trans community as well as the LGB.

I get a little discouraged when I read about people who are out supporting LGBT folks and all anyone can comment on is whether or not she used the word "transgender" correctly. I'm her boyfriend and I have no issue whatsoever with how the word is used in describing me. Seriously? I think the community has bigger fish to fry. Pick your battles, folks. Do you know how many people email me on a weekly basis telling me how much they want to become more involved in their communities but are afraid to because they feel like they're not "militant" enough or not versed enough in the LGBT "political correctness"?
We have to ask ourselves: Is really worth pushing away the people who want to help support us just because we feel they're using certain terms "incorrectly"? Does not having them really outweigh the benefits?