Sen. Joel Ford is running in the Charlotte mayoral race, and has attempted to pass himself off as an ally to the LGBTQ community with a sponsored Facebook ad.
Just one problem: He’s no ally.
Ford voted to allow magistrates to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, voted for Amendment One to add an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and is against allowing transgender people to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.
Related: How to be a good ally
The jury is out on whether Ford learned a lesson from this debacle, but he isn’t the only one who should take notes.
What Ford’s attempt to pass himself off as an ally can teach us:
1. You don’t get to decide if you’re an ally
You may think you’re an ally, but if the community you claim to be fighting for tells you otherwise, guess what? You’re not.
No one knows best how to stand up for a community than that community itself, so if you wish to be a true ally, you should start by listening to what they have to say. No group is a monolith, so you’ll need to hear from more than a select few, but if the consensus is that you’re anything but an ally (like if, say, both Equality NC and MeckPAC warn voters against casting a ballot for you), theirs is the final word, not yours.
2. Delusion is real
Whether or not Ford actually believe he is an ally is impossible for us to know. Only he can say for sure whether he actually believes he is a champion of equality and diversity, or if his ad was simply a cynical ploy from the start. Either way, one thing is clear: He thought he could get away with it.
He wouldn’t have spent valuable, and in his case relatively scarce, campaign funds on an ad talking up his ally status unless he thought he could fool a decent portion of us into buying it. Obviously, that didn’t work.
3. Check the receipts
Had the LGBTQ community been ignorant of Ford’s voting record perhaps his attempts to pass himself off as standing on our side would have worked. Instead, all it took was looking back at his stance throughout the years on issues affecting us, and it was clear to see that his posturing was hollow. Always check the receipts.
4. Phony allies get called out
More than ever, we live in a call out society, for better and worse.
The internet has made it easier to do the research, as well as to get the word out, and Facebook is literally begging us to always tell it what we’re thinking. At its best, the internet and social media are excellent tools to check those in power, and that’s what we saw happening here.
And if there’s anything the internet doesn’t like, it’s a fraud.
Ford’s scheme backfired. If there were members of the local LGBTQ community previously unaware of his shameful record, the likelihood that they are now alerted to it has increased.
Let that be a lesson not only to him, but to anyone who would wish to claim ally status without doing the actual work.
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