When I facilitate brave learning spaces where people are learning to do Allyship and Leadership, we always start with Community Agreements. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-two hour session or a multi-day workshop. On the rare occasions I’ve skipped them for time or just forgot, we always had to backtrack and set them when differences in understanding happened. Let’s be real, if you’re a human who interacts with other humans, miscommunication and misunderstandings are going to happen. We don’t all start with the same background knowledge, experiences, and education on a topic. Community agreements can help you and your team get on the same page.

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*Scroll down for English.*

La semana pasada escuché mi álbum favorito de hace más de 20 años, y lloré. Voces Unidas fue el álbum de los Juegos Olímpicos de Atlanta en 1996. Cuando estaba en la universidad, estas canciones le hablaban a mi corazón tierno y esperanzado. Son canciones de abrazar la diversidad para alcanzar un sueño colectivo, de esperanza, de paz, de un mundo nuevo.

Rápidamente aprendí que cambiar el mundo no era tan fácil como una esperanza y un sueño. Se necesita TRABAJO. De hecho, el mundo se ha vuelto francamente aterrador para las personas que mantienen identidades marginadas a pesar del trabajo. Sin embargo, al escuchar otra vez esas canciones, sentí ESPERANZA de todos modos. ¿Por qué? Porque estoy en esta lucha con personas quienes esperan y sueñan conmigo, quienes están en esta lucha conmigo y yo con ellos. Y mientras escuchaba esta música, este poema llenó mi alma:

Me llaman hermana.

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A cartoon drawn by the Naked Pastor. Four boxes are shown. In the first, a rainbow sheep stands facing a wall and a white sheep at the gate. A crowd of white sheep are behind the wall. The head white sheep says, "Be patient! We're working on it! 2nd image shows the rainbow sheep sitting while the other sheep are inside the closed gate and wall. 3rd box shows a white sheep telling the rainbow sheep, "Still working on it!" The 4th box shows a pile of rainbow dust and bones where the lonely rainbow sheep sat while the rest of the sheep are safely behind the wall. The sky is dark.

The ache in my jaw told me they were coming. It always cramps when BIG tears are threatening. People walked to and fro outside of my office door, so I had to hold the body-wracking sobs at bay until I was alone. My jaw ached more. My throat tightened. I used the pain to focus and push through what I needed to do. Kids are counting on me and I was just reminded that I’ve failed another.

I made it two more hours, working to ensure that LGBTQ students feel safe in schools. (And let’s be real, hoping to change society at the same time.) Then I posted the following to FaceBook before leaving my office for home:

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“I love you whether you’re gay or straight. Or bi. Or pansexual. Or asexual. I love you whether you’re a boy or girl, or both, or neither. Not only will I love you, I will protect you and your friends fiercely. You know, I love you no matter what.”

This weekend, for the umpteenth time, I needed to make sure that my kids know that whoever they are, whoever they love, I will actively, fiercely love them.

Also this weekend, the United Methodist General Conference is meeting to discuss whether they will split over fully embracing their LGBTQ members. In 2019, many people are still confused about how to love each other in a way that makes people feel loved, which shows me they are still confused about God’s Love.

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Dear Wichita Public Library, 

My name is Liz Hamor. My pronouns are she/her. I am the Director of GLSEN Kansas, a local chapter of a national organization that works with K-12 schools to ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

I wanted to applaud you for hosting an event with Drag Queens at the library in September (during Pride week). I work with hundreds of LGBTQ students and adults, and wanted to take a few moments to explain why visible community support is crucial. Read More →

A screengrab of the dictionary definition of stochastic terrorism

Many people who want to be called “allies” aren’t actually willing to put in the work to do allyship. Sometimes it’s just because they don’t know how and need some help. Other times it’s because they still need to learn one of the main lessons of doing allyship: It’s not about them. It’s not about receiving praise. Or about their own feelings. And it’s definitely not about staying comfortable while others LIVE uncomfortably.

Several months ago family members chastised me for commenting on another family member’s FaceBook posts that included a meme that had homophobic undertones. Now, the well-intentioned family member who posted it didn’t realize it held homophobic undertones, and I was aware of that. However, I know from experience that there are at least two groups of people who would recognize the bias… LGBTQ people, and those who are anti-LGBTQ. Which takes me to my first rules of allyship:

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I sometimes feel like losing my cool isn’t professional, but sometimes one has to be allowed to be human, right? Maybe I’m not always professional. Maybe sometimes I’m just real.

Well, I’m so ANGRY today, this week, for what this administration is doing to my trans friends. The emotional turmoil that they’re going through, the heartache, fear, anger of a government trying to erase them. Let. that. sink. in. Read More →

Maybe society (especially FaceBook) should come with Community Agreements like our GLSEN presentations and workshops. These are a list of expectations – a semi-formal social contract that we agree to use in the space. When we set agreements like: Lean into Discomfort, Call In instead of Call Out, Oops/Ouch, and Use the Language You Have, we set expectations that IT’S OK to make mistakes because that’s how we learn.

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Four graphic buttons/pins. One has the trans flag colors blue, pink, and white and says #IllGoWithYou in the center. One has a rainbow fist and a trans flag colored fist in the air on a yellow background. One says "GLSEN - My pronouns are SHE, HER, HERS". The last one says "ALLY".

What is an ally? This question is part of almost every presentation I do.  We discuss this whether it’s a 20 minute presentation for 100 educators or a six hour workshop for 10-30. The answers often range from, “an ally is a friend,” to, “an ally is someone who has your back,” to, “an ally is someone who doesn’t judge.”

Yes. An ally is all of those things, but is not ONLY those things. GLSEN research shows that visible allies play a crucial role in ensuring that LGBTQ students feel safe in K-12 schools, but what if I tell you that being an ally in the ways described above isn’t enough? That in order to make a difference, you need to DO allyship?

My team and I often say, “Ally is a verb. It’s not a title you can claim for yourself. It is something you must do. To be an ally, you must DO allyship.”

So what does allyship look like?

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It’s Sunday, and I missed church. Again. This time it was so I could sleep in, though usually it’s because of soccer.

I used to feel like I needed church, because I was seeking something… God, belonging, friends… I no longer need church for those reasons. I’ve found them all by following my calling.

I’m reminded every single day that I’m part of a bigger plan, and all I have to do is show up so the Universe can make the magic happen. I don’t even have to be confident, qualified, or have the right words. I just have to show up and everything falls into place. That’s the beauty of being called. God doesn’t call the qualified; God qualifies the called.

I think most people believe that following a calling means everything will be easy, though, and that isn’t at all the case. Showing up means vulnerability. For someone who would prefer to be invisible, it means visibility. It means taking risks, messing up, getting uncomfortable. It means allowing your heart to break wide open when tragedy happens, and trusting others to hold your heart tenderly when you expose it to them. It means learning to have patience and/or thick skin when others don’t understand your journey.

Following my calling also means that every night I get to go to bed knowing I’m living in my purpose. And SOMETIMES, when I’m lucky, I actually get to see the impact of my willingness to show up.

This week contained all of the ups and downs. I started the week in AWE and humbled by the opportunity to mentor three interns who chose to learn from me, because of the way I show up in the world. Later I cried so hard at injustice that I literally pulled a muscle in my neck, and showing up felt almost impossible but I did it anyway. Then I ended the week once again in awe after seeing the generosity of people who believe in our work.

One of my interns who is a kindred spirit and is just beginning to follow his calling asked me why he and I are so awkwardly awkward, and I told him, “It’s because we choose to live authentically. Others are wearing a mask that I refuse to wear,” and he found that profound and empowering.

So I might have missed church this week, but I saw God, created my own belonging, and was surrounded by friends who believe in me whether or not they believe in God and callings, so basically, I still did church.