• Opinion: Being an Ally

    By Chris Tebbutt

    It’s been a busy and colorful first week of Laguna Beach LGTBQ+ Heritage & Culture Month. We have already delivered over 50 rainbow flags to residents and businesses of Laguna Beach. It’s been heartening to see that most requests have been from Allies.

    What is an Ally exactly? An Ally is someone who supports and stands up for one or more marginalized groups. Being an Ally is more important than many people realize. It sends a powerful message that everyone deserves to be treated equally and with respect, regardless of who they love or how they identify. 

    It also shows the LGBTQ+ community that you welcome and embrace them. Being an Ally helps foster a safe and empowering environment where residents and visitors are empowered to be themselves and are supported by others who care about them.

    However, developing oneself as an Ally is a skill that doesn’t happen overnight. It comes from engaging in open conversations, asking questions, recognizing your own biases, and often stepping out of your comfort zone. Being an Ally means learning, empathizing and, in many ways, taking on the struggle as your own.

    As the City of Laguna Beach honors LGBTQ+ Heritage & Culture Month, I offer you a few specific ways you can become an Ally:

    Listen: The easiest way to become an Ally is to listen. 

    Educate yourself: Identify and challenge stereotypes and unconscious bias. It starts with learning a little history. Come to an event.

    Talk with others in our community: Have conversations with LGBTQ+ people, from high school students to senior citizens, from your neighbors to your community leaders, and learn about their experience and their history. 

    Learn and use correct inclusive language: In the LGBTQ+ community, language is everything. Using the right words and pronouns is important when referring to someone’s gender identity. 

    Speak up and intervene: Don’t tolerate anti-LGBTQ jokes or statements expressed in your presence. It matters that derogatory language is called out.

    Whether you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community or a valued Ally, please come to the Laguna Art Museum this Saturday, June 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. for a special event entitled “LAM Goes Boom: A Pride Celebration.” It’s an evening paying homage to Laguna’s bygone gay bars like the famed Boom Boom Room. Longtime resident Fred Karger’s documentary Save the Boom will be screened in the museum’s galleries, and then let the music, cocktails and dancing begin with DJ SoulFire! Tickets are available at lagunaartmuseum.com.

    Chris Tebbutt is a Compass real estate agent and co-founder of the Laguna Beach LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Alliance.