BEING A STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LGBT COMMUNITY
Peter Ji / University of Illinois at Chicago
YUN JI EDUCATION
Ph.D. Counseling Psychology (APA Accredited)
Dissertation Title: The Role of Attachment Status and Session-Impact
Events in the Formation of the Working Alliance Over Time with an
Adolescent Client Population.
Passed Comprehensive Doctoral Qualifying Exams with Distinction /
M.A. Counseling Psychology
Thesis Title: Ethnic Identity and Acculturation Stress and Predicting
Depression Scale Scores for a Korean Population.
University, Chicago, IL
B.A. Magna Cum Laude.
title for this piece comes from a college professor’s graduation
commencement speech. Many students did not know what to do after college
and asked the professor about what should they do. In her speech, the
professor replied, “Start there. You start with what you know and
you look forward to learning more about what you hope to know.”
This statement has become my mantra for describing my journey in becoming
a straight ally to the LGBT community.
first wanted to be a straight ally because I needed to do something more
than accept my LGBT friends. They are special to me and I am proud that
they are comfortable telling me that are gay or lesbian. When I went to
social gatherings with other LGBT persons, they felt comfortable socializing
with me. I valued my meaningful relationships with persons within the
LGBT community. We would acknowledge and discuss LGBT issues and how they
relate to our own identity, our friendships, our family relationships,
and our relationship with society.
I did not feel that I was “qualified” to be a straight ally.
I did not have a family member who “came out” as openly gay
or lesbian. I recall talking to my straight friends who had LGBT siblings
or to parents with a LGBT son or daughter. From my perspective, they had
more insight into LGBT issues because they knew that it was like when
one of their family relatives “came out.” I did not have these
experiences, so how could I relate?
someone were to describe me, would they describe me as a straight ally
to the LGBT community? Could I be identified as someone who is fully aware
of LGBT issues? During my multicultural training in my psychology doctoral
program at the University of Missouri, I viewed my professors as multiculturally
competent. Would someone identify me as competent in LGBT issues and as
a straight ally to the LGBT community?
I suddenly realized that
I had shared experience of being
afraid of being who I want to be.
I felt empowered because I was angry
that I had to be timid about wanting
to be who I wanted to be.
Peter Yun Ji
had to answer “no.” Honestly, I felt that just accepting LGBT
individuals was not enough. Just having LGBT friends was not enough, Like
any unjustly marginalized group, the LGBT community continuously deals
with oppression and discrimination. Furthermore, the LGBT deals with people
who use the Bible as “evidence” that being gay is fundamentally
wrong. How would I respond if someone proclaimed me as fundamentally flawed
based on religious text? In the end, I assessed myself as uncomfortable
with being too passive and I experienced an inner urgency to do more.
YUN YI RESEARCH & STATISTICAL EXPERIENCE
for Health Research and Policy – University of Illinois at Chicago
December 2003 - present
• Project management and related duties related to the Positive
Action (PA) Program Evaluation Project – A comprehensive character
education, school-based intervention program designed to enhance student
achievement and reduce problem behaviors. The project involves elementary
grade children of various racial backgrounds who are enrolled in inner-city
Chicago area schools.
• PA Project management duties:
o Organized the hiring of a data management coordinator.
o Recruited 14 schools to participate in the study.
o Prepared databases for implementation and outcome data collection.
o Assisted with reviewing survey materials, preparing data collection
survey procedures, survey data collection efforts, and processing
collected survey data.
o Analyzed data and prepared reports for presentations to school districts
that are using the Positive Action program.
o Recruited schools for a pilot study to evaluate student outcome
measures, and organized and conducted the data collection effort.
o Submitted IRB protocols for a pilot study of student-outcome measures,
a test-retest reliability study, and a teacher observation study.
o Participated in ongoing IRB workshops for continued certification.
o Coordinated the distribution and collection of parental consent
forms for students to participate in the survey.
o Analyzed and prepared reports based on pilot data for the participating
o Conducted literature reviews for various grants for a school-violence
o Currently writing and preparing publications related to work and
data gathered from the PA project.
o Currently developing grant ideas for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender research projects.
o Participated in a workgroup to propose efficacy standards for evaluating
prevention research for the Society of Prevention Research
for Community Research - DePaul University
Community Relations Manager
October 2001 – December 2003
the community-based tobacco control intervention programs in 24
communities. The intervention consisted of licensing tobacco merchants
and prohibiting minors’ possession of cigarettes in public
spaces. The evaluation was a matched-pair randomized control trial
with 12 control communities and 12 treatment communities. Established
and managed relationships with key persons at 41 schools and 24
police departments in the Northern Illinois area. Organized the
data collection efforts from schools and police departments. Coordinated
project activities, including the collection of parental consent,
survey administration, collection of tobacco-related police enforcement
data, supervision of staff at community activities, prepared survey
reports for schools and police departments, and maintained databases.
Conducted research projects, assisted with conference presentations,
and wrote publications regarding youth access to tobacco. Performed
general office duties and staff supervision as needed.
Salary - $45,000/yr
May, 2001 - present
clients with statistical analysis, interpretation of results, report
writing, research design conceptualization and assisting with data
management. Using SPSS, conducted various statistical tests including
structural equational modeling, ANOVA, ANCOVA, MANOVA, discriminant
function analysis, factor analysis, and cluster analysis.
Psychology Research Coordinator
Summer, 1998 – August 2000
assigned research projects. Independently managed and scheduled
raters to perform assessments at various outpatient facilities.
Coordinated data collection procedures, conceptualized research
questions and design, and performed statistical analyses of data.
Acquired skills in SPSS, Microsoft Excel, Word, and Access. Projects
included: Investigation of Patient Factors that Lead to Successful
Outpatient Transitions, Predicting Patient Success in Following
Polydypsia Treatment Plans, Investigation of Structured and Unstructured
Activity Time Periods and its Relationship to Occurrence of Aggressive
Incidents in an Inpatient Forensic Setting, Assessing Risk Factors
in Releasing Forensic Clients to the Community.
University of Missouri
Fall, 99 - August 2000
project (Promoting Empowerment and Achievement via Knowledge) is
a research based program model, designed to promote successful achievement
in learning and life skills areas. Model is based on Tucker's Theory
of African-American children, which posits a self-empowerment theory
of achievement. Coordinated data collection efforts, construction
of a database, and responsible for analyzing and producing statistical
reports. Analyzed data gathered from Peak Project's initial assessment
period. Co-authored, prepared, and presented report to a follow-up
committee for the Peak Project funding organization.
Assessment Resource Center
Graduate Assistant, Quarter-time Assistantship
University of Missouri
Fall, 1996 - Winter, 1997
included writing statistical programs in the SAS language for student
or university-based organization projects. Wrote SAS programs for
the following statistical analyses: MANOVA, Logistic Regression,
and Descriptive Statistics.
I have to “start there.” It was not enough for me to say I
accepted LGBT individuals and that I was against oppression of the LGBT
community. If I wanted to “do more”, what would it look like?
What would be the model? Should I read plenty of literature on the LGBT
community? Should I take every opportunity to strike down LGBT jokes?
Do I fight legislation that prohibits LGBT individuals from having the
same privileges and rights as heterosexuals? At this point, I felt I had
a problem with credibility and identity. If I wanted to portray myself
as a straight ally to the LGBT community, what evidence would I have to
back my claim? Where would I start?
I reflected and talked with others I trustee, I concluded that I could
offer my emotional reaction and my beliefs about what was right. I do
have noteworthy experiences with LGBT individuals. On one occasion, I
was riding in a car with a gay couple, and one man talked about his family’s
struggle to accept his gay identity. During that car ride, I remember
being silent, wanting to say something to show my understanding, but feeling
unable to do so. On another occasion, I remember feeling proud that, while
casually talking with friends, a gay man complemented me by saying I could
be his date for a school dance. At a wedding, I remember other persons
making fun of a gay man, and I felt unable to quell their homophobic remarks.
I remember other persons saying that being gay has to be biologically
rooted because why would anyone intentionally choose to be gay? There
were times I wished I could have done more rather than be silent.
was afraid that others would question my motives. Why would I speak
for LGBT persons if I were not gay? What investment would I possibly
have in the LGBT community?
I had to “start there”. I wanted an active voice. During my
internship, I had an opportunity to produce an outreach event. My task
was to construct a short program to promote psychology issues for interested
college students. I will always remember this opportunity as the time
when I “got started”. I decided that I would create an outreach
event titled “Being a Straight Ally to the LGBT Community”.
As soon as I started, I became nervous; I did a literature search and
found nothing substantial on this topic. During my doctoral training,
I became extensively involved with multicultural issues. I took several
courses, participated in projects and workshops to learn about race issues,
ethnic identity, and LGBT issues. During my search, it occurred to me
that there were no models or literature that dealt with LGBT straight
allies. So I felt even more at a loss because there were few, if any,
models that could guide my wish to become a straight ally.
had to start elsewhere. My internship had three wonderful staff members
who proved to be a source of encouragement and validation. It was important
for me to feel safe to say, “This is what I want to do. I want to
be a credible, confident, ally to the LGBT community. I do not know where
to start, I do not know what being an ally would mean, and I do not know
how to lead this outreach event.” All three reacted with positive
welcome, it was actually refreshing for them to hear that a straight individual
wanted to come forward and “do more” for the LGBT community.
my issue of wanting to be “credible” was not an issue for
them. My internship staff counselors were right Exactly why did
I want to be “credible”? Therefore, my first lesson was examining
my need to be “credible”. Turns out, I wanted to be “credible”
because I was afraid that others might ridicule me. For example, I was
afraid that others would question my motives. Why would I speak for LGBT
persons if I were not gay? What investment would I possibly have in the
LGBT community? I then realized that this was my first experience of what
it is like to live in fear for proclaiming who you truly are. I wanted
to be a straight ally, and I was afraid of coming out as a straight ally.
I thought that knowledge was the only way to justify my claim as a straight
ally. Now, I suddenly realized that I had shared experience of being afraid
of being who I want to be. I felt empowered because I was angry that I
had to be timid about wanting to be who I wanted to be. I felt angry that
there was a possibility that others might ridicule me for wanting to be
a straight ally. Rather than retreating in fear, I could fight back this