ALLIES
I. INTRODUCTION

Once upon a time, an Ally to a person who is X, a group of X or X people in general was taken to mean a non-X supporting the person or group as X or the X cause in general.

[X could by LGBT, though plenty of other possibilities exist.]

Given subsequent understanding about Closeted people being commonplace and much Closeted being layered, the idea that an Ally to a person who is X-and-Y-and-Z , say, needn't preclude the Ally themself possibly being some of X, Y, Z themself, and possibly Closetedly so.

An Ally A to a given person B is someone that B trusts as regards A being some subset of the X, Y, Z ... that they are.

It is possible that a Closet-X person is Out to their Allies, in which case these are Allies to a Closeted person.

It is possible that a Closet-X-Y-and-Z person is out to some Allies as Closet-X but not about Y and Z.

A Closet X-Y-and-Z person might even have different Allies as an X, as a Y and as a Z :)

A person who is Out-X and Closet-Y may likewise have different Allies as regards each of X and Y.

Or any other combination.

II. What being an Ally involves: Interlude 1 version.

Adora is a leader of the Great Rebellion.

She is Closeted about also being She Ra, the main hero of the Rebellion.

In the state of She Ra, she is vastly stronger, which is some indication that this 1980's cartoon considered that people are much stronger when Out.

While acknowledging that not all people can be Out, at least not all the time, or not under their usual name/appearance.

Anyway, the Introduction of She Ra ends by her saying that only three people know of her secret: Light Hope, Madam Razz and Kowl.

These are her Allies, and we'll have *a lot* more to say about them in Interlude 3.

For now, the only points we make are that Light Hope is very wise but can seldom be around, whereas the other two are much weaker than She Ra.

And yet through their knowing and being trustworthy, they quite often protect She Ra/Adora from matters stemming from their Closetedness. Such as unexplained absences or people relying on She Ra turning up to save a captured Adora.

This is a memorable 'basic model' of many of the considerations in the next section. You can find the Introduction of She Ra Princess of Power on the net, along with various episodes. Most of those feature Allies; other pages of ours point to other aspects of She Ra as helpful parables with understanding Safer Spaces, liberation movements and Anactivism.

III. What being an Ally involves: More detailed factual version.

The combination doesn't matter; the things that rather probably do matter are the following.

Ally 1) Many X, Y, Z ... people, Out or Closeted, face adversity and need help.

Ally 2) Some of that help comes from people they know and trust; these are Allies.

Ally 3) Some of being an Ally involves listening and believing.

Some people need the listener to be a friend, not someone who's paid to listen or who volunteers to listen to whoever phones Linkline.

In other cases, people need the listener to be a volunteer or a counsellor. It depends.

Ally to Closeted 1) Especially if a person is Closet-X, then their Allies are not just trusted in general but furthermore trusted to maintain the secrecy.

No Outing by being mean.

No Outing by not realizing the adverse effects of Outing.

No Outing by being careless.

No Outing by having a limited grasp of security, privacy, secrecy, anonymity etc.

Some Closeted people only trust as Allies people who have a good and practical grasp of these things!

Or possibly from people willing to learn of such matters fast enough to not be a 'danger' or 'weakest link' through not knowing.

Ally to e.g. Survivor 1) Some people, for instance but not solely Survivors, feel they can't approach or interact with almost anyone.

In such cases, the Survivor needs Allies in order to interact with further people, groups or bodies.

So Allies are messengers in some cases.

Ally to e.g. Survivor 2) Some people can't risk personally experiencing that a given helpline's personnel are e.g. Trans-Exclusionary, untrained to deal with Aces or polyphobic.

In such cases, the Ally may phone first, probe for such sentiments and then pass the phone to the Survivor.

Ally to Closeted 2) Closeted people may not be OK with giving up their identity in order to access help.

And may consider many sources of help to be unsuitable: not designed to be convenient or safe for Closeted customers.

So Closeted people may have their Ally take an appointment. So as to note e.g. how many personal details their Ally had to disclose. And whether the service in question makes records as a default, and whether one can opt out of that.

Services that don't get it that some people have to interact via third parties - Allies - are usually not revisited by Allies helping a Closeted person.

Nor are many other services, according to criteria that the Closeted person sets.

Note: quite a lot of Survivors (or similar) who are Closeted are also Hypervigilant. So they may have a lot of criteria that their Allies need to see a service pass before they can even mention their unnamed friend's main issues.

Ally to e.g. Survivor and/or Closeted 3) Many such people require their Allies to know subterfuge and disguise-of-purpose all the better to be effective as messengers and observers.

Ally to e.g. Survivor 4) Many such people have to live in the same city as their abuser, or suffer from or fear about a such stalking them even if the abuser isn't resident.

As such, an Ally of theirs may precede the Survivor out of accommodation, checking that there is no intruder in the path being taken through the accommodation.

An Ally may also know what the abuser looks like, and report any sightings - possible or definite - to the Survivor.

An Ally who can almost always see another individual first without being seen is often particularly valued by Survivors...

Some Survivors or other people with bullies or stalkers may wish to practice 'giving the stalker the slip' with one or more Allies.

E.g. seeing if they can spot/elude their own Ally.

Or seeing if one Ally's means of determining the coast to be clear really work, by having a second Ally conceal themself. This comes with some standard advice, like doing such manoeuvres off university property, or letting the one Ally know that other Allies will be hidden. This is so that no 'reaction mechanisms' - like phoning the plodge - are set off by tests or false positives.

A common setting is that someone's entire corridor knows that a person there has a stalker. In such a cases a default can be set that nobody has unaccompanied friends on the premises. There can however be a day that everybody living there knows will have an Ally testing the other Allies' spotting and giving the slip procedures. They then do this quietly and with no false positives. It helps rather a lot if the Ally testing the system is a person with the college in question's ID, or is 'protected' by having a such at just a couple of seconds notice. This is just in case some other college member question's the Ally's presence during such a manoeuvre.

Ally to Survivor and/or Closeted 5) Suppose someone is Coming Out to anyone at all, or someone in sudden need of Allies. (E.g. they have just noticed they are being stalked or bullied, or have just been sexually or physically assaulted.)

These quite often Come Out to just one person at first.

These may find it very hard to Come Out, viewing each new Ally as a potential risk, and/or being very cautious in choosing.

E.g. a Closet-Trans person might only Come Out to people whom they've randomly heard to be supportive of Trans people. And that may take months to establish of a further person by passive happenstance hearing.

So there is a phase in which Allies are rare.

* Now a person who only communicates by Allies can have a very hard time if they only have one Ally.

* The Ally may have limits in will or skill or need time off.

* Also e.g. some Survivors don't feel safe without an Ally present, and may additionally be loth for the person they always stand next to also be their secret message carrier.

* So some e.g. Survivors only start having message-carrying Allies when they have a second Ally.

Or one Ally in excess of what their 'feel safe other than behind my locked room door' rota requires.

* Clearly accruing Allies slowly doesn't go well with needing a rota of them and needing separate direct protectors and messenger/stalker-spotting Allies.

* This is quite often resolved by an existing Ally doing things that enable accruing other Allies faster.

* They might for instance subtly test everyone they know for polyphobia, by often talking about Poly people and seeing who is supportive and who is derogatory.

* They might also look out for boundary-pushers (something almost no Survivors would condone in an Ally), or whatever else the person they help out does or doesn't condone in Allies.

* They might also find kind, sensible trustworthy people who agree to learn enough security, secrecy and anonymity to not be a 'danger' or 'weakest link' through not knowing. In such cases they needn't learn fast to be a liability, as the first ally would only tell the second Ally who the person needing Allies is after they've been trained. And/or the person needing Allies only reveals what their issues are to the new Ally once they've been trained up.

For sure, the person needing Allies is the one that gives the go-ahead in whom to trust.

What the first Ally does is help turn longlists of acquaintances into shortlists of sufficiently understanding people and then of which have enough skill-or-will-to-learn and agreed commitment.

IV. INTERLUDE 2

This is rather a good point to interjecting another lighter-hearted story.

'The person they help out' is rather a clunky phrase, so we tell a story that will give a lot of you a fair idea of Allies to e.g. Survivors.

The beloved and unforgettable character 'The Little Prince' agrees to roam the galaxy looking for a suitable Sheep.

It is not easy to find such a sheep!

It needs to eat small Baobabs, so these don't destroy the very little planet he is from.

But they absolutely cannot endanger their precious Rose, a sentient flower that they share that tiny little planet with.

The Rose, being a flower rooted onto the tiny planet, cannot travel the universe to find such a Sheep, so he travels alone to look for the Sheep.

So the Survivor (Rose) may sit on their planet (behind a locked door), while the Ally (the Prince) searches far and wide for another Ally (a suitable Sheep). Who has skills that the first Ally does not themselves possess (eat the small Baobabs) while not simultaneously themself posing a danger to the Rose.

This is very close to what a first Ally (or subcritical Ally size group) do so as to accrue enough Allies!

V. MORE ON BEING AN ALLY

Ally 6) 'What being an Ally consists of in principle' is determined by the person you are Ally to, and not by any preconceptions held by such as (but not just) listening vocations, political groups or activist groups.

Until now, all openly declared conceptions of what being an Ally involves were made without consulting the Closeted populace, or the most affected people such as Avoidant Survivors or Non-Normative Survivors.

We here, on the other hand, have listened to, and in good part have consisted of, such people and their Allies.

By having listened a great deal to safety and security issues needed before almost any such feel safe enough to give feedback, and by adapting how we are run to be helpful to such people, we have long had an Ally system which starts along the lines of this page.

For instance, we are run so that adapting is our natural state of affairs, and without any kind of force or might needed to evoke, contest or prioritize changes.

In particular, we are an abuse-free zone, and such get a lot of feedback especially while nowhere else is considered approachable by many of our people.

After all, the presence of many Survivors in universities wasn't 'officially acknowledged' until around 2014, and that 85% of Survivors don't go to the police in 2016.

'Official systems' who didn't acknowledge even these things until a year or three ago aren't very likely to be seen approachable by those thus affected.

And the large number of Closet Mental Health, Closet Trans, and Closet X for X legal-and-consensual but not legally protected, e.g. Ace, Poly, Pan, Non-Binary, Genderfluid, Kinkster, Socially Anxious, well, to date those remain to be "officially acknowledged".

Moreover, both Closeted and Survivor (including of Bullying and 'ongoing' rather than Survived cases) cannot be effectively addressed in the same way as extending protection on LGB people by 'extending the list' to include Trans people as well.

These require systemic changes if they are to be effectively addressed at all.

Indeed, the difference between what a conventional Listener thinks an Ally is and the current page's contents are an indication of how systemic any other changes would need to be.

E.g. to rep training, listener training, or the form of 'the law' (none of which currently show any awareness of Closeted people or the great and institutionalized adversities these face. See e.g. here for things Closeted people need that aren't covered in current rep or listener training.

In a nutshell, Closeted people and Survivors often need security, secrecy and anonymity advice, and are unwilling to attend, or even give feedback to, places run with insufficient inklings of these matters. By which 'official groups' seldom even hear anything at all from Closeted people or Avoidant Survivors (i.e. the 85% who don't go to the police very largely don't go to 'reps', 'doctors', 'campaign events' or 'their tutor' either).

Those Survivors who react confrontationally, by such as joining current-era activist campaigns, are a totally disjoint population of Survivors from the Avoidant ones. Avoidant Survivors react by building Ally groups like described on this page. Or seek Refuges, and not action/confrontation/revenge. Or, in many cases, very probably feel they have recourse to nothing at all, out of 'official sector' things being unapproachable, while they do not know even as much as these pages about Allies or Refuges.

While "official sector" Shelters for Survivors are approachable by some people, many such don't cater for Non-Normative Survivors, or male survivors, or Trans/Non-Binary Survivors.

Additionally, many Survivors don't feel safe around 'official things'. Many other 'official things' have already let them down, and some Survivors interact with nobody at all (or nobody already greatly trusted) for years afterward.

So don't confuse 'seek Refuges' with the subcase of 'seeking an official Shelter'.

VI. SO WHAT DO WE MEAN BY A REFUGE HERE?

* Look rather to how Geeks badly bullied at school often never socialize with, or trust, non-Geeks again.

* Not least because this is often a comparable factor to being a Survivor to Survivor Geeks.

But also because the geeks have been offering other kinds of Refuge for decades.

Much the same can be said about Subcultures, such as Rock or Goth groups.

* A few such groups have listened to Survivor, Closeted and legal-and-consensual but not legally protected members' issues for decades, leading to the formation of Safer Space Refuges like this one here. Look also for instance at the local CUSFS (Sci-Fi society), the local Rocksoc, the local LARP (live-action role playing), Geek Feminism, and the UK's Nine Worlds Convention (for a mixture of all the previous and Cosplaying as well).

* Further such activities have been run closetedlyas suitable for many types of person facing great adversity.

Like we here ourselves did until Coming Out at the level of what our Societies are really for, partly in 2004, partly in 2011, and partly again in 2016.

Well, then, some other such Socs 'remain to openly declare' that they've built themselves up as suitable in some of these ways as well :)

Ally 7) On the other hand, each Little Princeling (Ally: Princeling is a gender-neutral rendition of Rose) is of course entitled to have their limitations as regards what they are willing to do to help their Roseling :)

Ally 8) In particular, Allies have a right to time off to look after themselves, their own needs and concerns.

Without such, being an Ally isn't sustainable.

By this, some Survivors need multiple Allies in a Duty Rota, while others agree to 'sit tight' until an Ally is once again available after resting.

All in all, Princelings have the right to set boundaries on their involvement.

And Roselings have the right to refuse certain types of help offered as well.

These tenets confer a lot of sensibleness to this Closeted, Survivor etc inclusive model of Allying.

VII. OUR SAFER SPACE WAY

Some of the ways that associated Refuges (Safer Spaces) work is further conducive to sensibleness. E.g. our Princeling-Roseling interactions here are an abuse-free zone protected by the 'no might needed to use' SafeOut word to unambiguously mark anything that somebody involved in not OK with.

SafeOut is interpreted as follows (a Prime Rule of these Safer Spaces).

"A person is upset if they say they are, and without having to say why. Apologies, and non-repeats of what caused it, are expected."

Note 1) "And without having to say why" is a Closeted-inclusion mechanism.

Note 2) Apologies and non-repeats are expected precludes secondary abuse, including what is usually used to attempt to cover up for such things like "just joking".

Note 3) "And without having to say why" also removes other 'excuses' like 'demanding to know why'.

Note 4) Saying 'SafeOut' makes it unambiguous something is not OK, 'not a joke', without any need whatsoever for aggression or persuasiveness to get this point across. Indeed, not only is aggression unnecessary to get points across in our Safer Spaces, it is disallowed as well. For many Survivors, Bullied, Closeted, Socially Anxious people... don't feel safe in the presence of anyone who uses aggression, regardless of toward whom that aggression is directed.

VIII. INTERLUDE 3: SHE RA'S ALLIES IN MORE DETAIL

Each has 'remarkably visionary' interpretation for a Cartoon first aired in 1985...

This is no doubt in part due to the good intentions in portraying a Safer Space abiding group of mostly-female and/or LGBT colour wearing rebels on a planet dominated by a normative Horde of villains, for the very first time in the mid-80's.

The preceding, better-known He Man series has a few such features, e.g. the wisest character is female (the Sorceress), as is one of the best warriors (Teela). Indeed, He Man is also closeted about being He Man, with only three Allies knowing, and there is a bit of equivalence between this set of three and She Ra's. But the second 'She Ra' edition is substantially clearer and has a lot more rainbows and 'girl power'. Here most non-robotic warriors are female; even the Horde's lead Force Captain and Chief Scientist posts are held by ladies, whereas She Ra is assisted by not only her Allies but also such as Glimmer, Frosta, Queen Angella and Castaspella. Even the main 'male rebel', Bow, is socially female and quite often ends up playing a 'damsel in distress' role, with She Ra rescuing him :)

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She Ra's Ally 1) is Light Hope, who is a Talking Rainbow :) male-voiced. He is very wise, but seldom able to appear and unable to act in person. Nowadays, one would interpret this as a very wise Ally that however one can only interact with on the internet and who probably has dozens or hundreds of people to help out, and so needst split what time he has between them.

Light Hope can't be any part of an Ally Rota. But he could very probably supply enough information for others to start having Ally Rotas. In this way, Light Hope is a bit like the current webpage :P

She Ra's Ally 2) is Madam Razz. She is an elderly broomstick-flying witch. We interpret her to stand for the following. Many of the people in need of Allies don't have the luxury of possessing any Allies of their own age. In the context of being at University, many don't have the luxury of having another student at the same University as their Ally.

Because of this, social group and society conventions that excluded members of other universities, ex-members of the uni, and yet other people are often very damaging to people in need of Allies.

In particular, discrimination based on age and occupation ruins many Survivors' Ally defenses.

By which many Survivors only feel OK with socializing in 'unofficial societies' who don't exclude or limit participation by ex-uni members, non-uni members or members of another university (Anglia Ruskin University is also in Cambridge).

So, yes, some Survivors or similar have as their first Ally their Mum or a Grandparent. Or a schoolfriend who attends another university. Or a former student. So societies excluding such really aren't helpful. One might say the same if for instance student council or reps refuse to listen to visitors who turn out to be someone's Nan or elder sister, a former student or an Ally who just so happens to attend Anglia Ruskin.

No discrimination on grounds of age or occupation!

She Ra's Ally 3) is Kowl, who is half-Koala and half-Owl, with large rainbow-coloured wing-ears. While voiced as male, Kowl is often interpreted as having an Effeminate, Trans or possible Non-Binary personality.

Now, She Ra is the best warrior in this entire fictional universe.

You can still buy "whatever He Man can do, She Ra does better" T-shirts on the internet!

And Kowl is a decidedly non-martial individual.

None the less, by being entrusted with Adora's secret that she is She Ra, Kowl still quite often manages to save the day, by such as being able to fly around silently, and thus carry messages, open up prison cells and create further escape routes.

Kowl shows that relatively meek people can none the less make valuable Allies, even to very strong people :)

Kowl shows the need for, and value of, the message-carrying Ally, who moves quietly and would be easy to stop but often succeeds in remaining unnoticed.

Finally, Kowl would appear to be a conscientious objector to violence and confrontation. As such, Kowl illustrates that Allies can have/set substantial limits on what they are willing to do.

Light Hope ascribes to this as well, in not being available for daily rotas.

As a triple of Allies, they complement each other well, including illustrating the need for multiple Allies.

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We next pass to considering Adam/He Man's trio of allies.

He Man Ally 1) is the Sorceress. She is the wisest character, but is very largely confined to Castle Greyskull. As such, her role is similar to Light Hope's, though she is additionally a Mentor, much as our Safer Space Custodians sometimes have Trainees who do far much more of the 'field work'.

He Man Ally 2) is Man at Arms. He is Teela's father, and so is roughly one generation older than He Man. His social acceptance is the counterpart of Madam Razz's (for all that she's at least two generations older than She Ra). He is also a very brave and experienced warrior, who can be relied upon.

He Man Ally 3) is Orco. He, like Madam Razz, is a magician who often gets their spells wrong. Orco is particularly unreliable because of this in fights! But, like Kowl, he can fly around silently and therefore carry messages. And he always tries very hard to make up for his mistakes in casting spells!

We end by pointing out that She Ra and friends mostly live in a "Whispering Woods" whose trees conspire to move around to impede entry by any Horde troops.

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This is quite probably the first prominent and accurate depiction of a Safe(r) Space on Television.

It provides the much less numerous rebels, who don't have such things as tanks, jet cycles or robots, with a Refuge they can retreat to between skirmishes with the Horde.

It is inhabited by largely defenseless little beings ('Twiggets') as well as by rebel fighters, and is a largely internally peaceful place.

Each fighter has one or more talents, which are much appreciated and involved by the group, who also cover for each others' limitations.

Each rebel fighter is very different from each other, suggesting a General-Purpose Safer Space.

And/or a place with no consensus-forming, group-normativity or imposition of world-views by one member unto another. By which, at least internally, the Whispering Woods looks to be quite an Anactivistic space.

VIII. OUR ALLY SYMBOL

We adopt the Golden Circle.

This most directly symbolizes a Safer Space of our kind.

Let us first note that we here use Gold for 'Being Friendly Rules' and 'Safer Space Inclusion, Listening and Kindness'.

This was the original meaning of our use of Gold.

But by now we've learned to coat this SoftGold with HardGold: security-awareness on the outside, as well as Bounded Inclusion: no abuse or abusive individuals in our Safer Spaces.

The Golden Circle is then a Protective perimeter of Hardgold on the outside for the SoftGold on the inside.

It is not only the symbol for Allies of our kind but also for Safer Spaces of our kind.

Both are General-Purpose, Closet-Aware, Survivor-Aware, Bullied-Person-Aware, New-Shy-Different-Aware, No-Discrimination-On-Grounds-of-Age-or-Occupation, Anactivistic Abuse-Free Zones.

Thus quite a lot like She Ra's Whispering Woods :)

IX. STARTING TO LEARN THE LESS USUAL ALLY SKILLS

So the Allies' Golden Circle is the same as that around the edge of Cambridge Safer Space Waterfighting's crest, and the Duelly CakeFaeries':

.

These are what some of our own Rebel Warriors look like (more or less) :-)

Waterfighting, especially urban ambushes, is very good experience for spotting and avoiding ambushes, losing pursuers, guarding a team-mate and sneaking around.

This is useful for people who wish to avoid, lose, and not be surprised by stalkers, say, and for more advanced Allies. Particularly through being a very approachably harmless format.

Information security, secrecy, anonymity can be learned as theory, and practiced on or over the Internet. But not all security is information security, all types require practice, and some of the other types require practice 'in the field' rather than online...

People new to these things, or wishing for an even gentler introduction, can learn to move around unperceived in providing the 'Surprise Cake' of the CakeFaeries activity.

CakeFaeries wanting more of this aspect - Scouty CakeFaeries - then often sign up for CakeFaerie Duelling with waterpistols off university premises, and/or go to CSSW waterfighting battles.

Of course, some CakeFaeries who become Allies train as well/instead in the more conventional listening arts (usually complementing these with such as Closet-awareness, from reading these pages or discussing with Safer Space Mentors).

And other CakeFaeries become Bakers or CakeFaerie Parents instead (like College Parenting but between Safer Space people). Or are part of the online Chain-Writing Safer Spaces that allow for people who daren't even go to Safer Space meetings to have at least one activity they're OK with doing in this Uni town... Each Safer Space person who wishes to help out is welcome to choose whichever of the above things, or whichever combination. They are a menu to choose dishes from, and not a list of what 'everybody does'.