Allies are extremely important to LGBT rights. Though we don’t often enumerate what tasks we expect allies to do, a fairly common conception is that allies “support the LGBT community.” In the first section I introduce three difficulties for this position that collectively suggest it is conceptually insufficient. I then develop a positive account by starting with whom allies are allied to instead of what allies are supposed to do. We might obviously say here that allies are allied to the LGBT community, but I will argue that this community is better thought of as a loose coalition because there are often intersectional issues and conflicting interests that challenge any unified sense of community. I argue that people typically become allies because a friend or family member is experiencing some kind of specific harm; if that harm or discrimination is what causally explains why people become allies, then allies are required to do more than we commonly think. Although allies have a prima facie obligation to honor what members of a subcommunity identify as a harm, this obligation is defeasible if an ally believes fulfilling the obligation would be harmful. I conclude by looking at how we can understand what an ally is in terms of a larger discussion about moral obligations. If people already have these obligations, whatever they are, because morality requires it, then the status “ally” is redundant. I conclude by showing that certain social statuses can not only transform or reprioritize prior moral commitments, but can also introduce new kinds of responsibility that an agent did not have before.
Blankschaen, Kurt M.. 2016. "Allied Identities." Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 2, (2). Article 3. doi:DOI: 10.5206/fpq/2016.2.3.