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Welcome to Allyship

Updated: Feb 9

Authored by: Nathan Bassett

As my first post on the CivicPRIDE blog, I’d like to welcome all of the new members and thank you for engaging in an organization that has done so much good for me personally. I wanted to share one of my personal reasons for why I encourage allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community and what that means to me as a gay man from a religious upbringing.

Over the last few years, I’ve started amassing a collection of queer literature, with titles ranging from the popular Red, White & Royal Blue (McQuiston, 2019) now adapted into a popular movie, to Autoboyography (Lauren, 2017) a personal favorite because of its depiction of a relatable young gay Mormon. I just finished a book called Café con Lychee (Lee, 2022), and the way it handled parental homophobia really resonated with me. One of the character’s parents express their concern about hanging out with “those kind” of people prior to their son coming out, seemingly related to a disgust for a gay people, but is actually their worry for their child’s safety.

Their reaction in the novel made me think of the scene from The Family Stone (Bezucha, 2005) where Sarah Jessica Parker’s Meredith stumbles over her words as she attempts to express concern about having a gay child, worrying that they wouldn’t have a “normal” childhood, a few nights before Christmas on her first visit with her boyfriend’s family. Her words come out more jumbled and jarring as she wades further into the argument and finds the ire of everyone at the table as her confusion over what she has said wrong mangles the festive environment.

Both Café con Lychee and The Family Stone demonstrate familial support and allyship for their gay characters, as well as the intersectionality of their character’s identities, in other scenes, and both pieces elicited emotional reactions from me. I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes trying to figure out why – I finally realized that the authenticity granted to the gay characters in these portrayals after their families demonstrate their supportiveness rings true to me in a way that I can’t express.

The contrast between an environment that asks you to stow part of your identity away to conform to societal norms and an environment that enables you to display the full breadth of your personality cannot be understated. The ability to be comfortable in your own skin grants great power to people, and as a cis-white male with some level of privilege, I’ve learned that the greatest gift I can bestow on those around me is that of an environment that encourages being authentic. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, or as an ally, I would ask that you think about whether you are creating this kind of environment for the people around you, and how you might change to create this kind of environment if you aren’t.

Now, you’re probably thinking, how does this relate to the local government profession? As public servants, we have the opportunity to set the stage for our communities as role models, and as stewards of the public environment. We set policies that can include or exclude certain people or populations and help determine how to use the limited resources in our communities. I encourage you to think about your community, how it serves you, and how you might better enable people to bring their full selves to the table.

At CivicPRIDE, I have found a place where my interests in public service and being a colorful personality are not in conflict with each other, where I can potentially make a difference in the daily lives of people, and where I’ve learned even further what allyship with other ostracized communities looks like. I encourage you to join me in building a better world, and helping to create communities where individuals are offered the opportunity to fully express their intersecting identities.

Nathan Bassett works at the City of Oakland as a Principal Budget & Management Analyst and has been on the board of CivicPRIDE since 2018. His interest in local government stems from his desire to use policy to create change in the world, with a focus on LGBTQIA+ issues and the intersection of those issues with racial equity. Nathan earned his Master’s in Public Policy from the Hertie School in Berlin, Germany, and his Bachelor’s in Finance from the University of Utah.



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