Why you should be an ally

Most everyone wants to make the world a better place. That’s not hard to do. Simple acts of kindness are all it takes. Current fave FB meme: “Kind is the new cool.”

But we live in a world in which hate is thriving. It’s time most of us upped our game.

Maybe you’re like I used to be: You have some vague awareness of your social privilege and you feel a little guilty that you’re afforded things that others aren’t. I’m bemused that the simplest of epiphanies that hit me with the grace of an anvil dropped on my head:

Feeling bad doesn’t help anyone. Do something to make it better. Get involved. Get connected.

So, I did. I became an ally to many stigmatized groups. Most notably, my family who happen to be LGBTQ+, my family in active addiction, my people in addiction recovery, folks who live with mental illness, survivors of trauma, and those who live in poverty and/or are homeless everywhere.

I never really thought very much about the importance of being an ally. It just seemed like a very natural way of doing the right things. For as much as I am exceedingly socially privileged, I have always identified with oppressed people.

That’s the upside to surviving trauma, abuse, and mental illness. “Those people” have always been my people.

The coolest thing about being an ally is that I get to be a part of something bigger and far more beautiful than myself. I get to have family wherever I go. I stood with 300 brothers and sisters in Waterville yesterday, united in our love and belief that diversity is meant to be embraced and celebrated.

Across the street, other humans used misinterpretations of science and religion to espouse hate and intolerance. I cannot imagine that such people have happy or fulfilling lives.

We were having one hell of a good time on my side of the street.

We chanted, “Love not hate” hundreds of times. I was reminded that hate comes in countless forms, the most common of which is the indifference to the oppression, disenfranchisement, disempowerment, and suffering of others.

Yesterday, three amazing humans donated their time to teaching children. They read to them, made crafts with them, and whether the kids realized it or not, they offered powerful lessons in inclusion, tolerance, and love.

And somehow, the Mayor of Waterville decided this was controversial. Fortunately, no one has more grace or dignity than a drag performer, and they carried on beautifully.

June is National Pride Month. It’s a call to action and to become more educated. It’s also an opportunity to become an ally and help increase awareness, fairness, and love in our communities. If you’re not sure how you can help, contact my brothers and sisters at Maine Trans Net, Out Maine, and the Health Equity Alliance.

After you’ve filled your plate with Pride, my next request:

Bangor YMCA/YWCA has launched a teen center.  This is a completely free program for at risk kids, and you can bet me and mine will be actively supporting it. If you want to do incredible things locally, if you have time or money to support a better community, contact my friend Emerald Forcier at eforcier@bangory.org

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim is the cofounder of Sobernow.com an online addiction recovery program that is affordable and provides complete anonymity