Ally” inherently relies on the marginalized identities of others in order to even exist. It’s a way for people not marginalized in that particular way to feel included. They have a word to put on a sticker, button, t-shirt, or pendant, too. In the case of gender and sexual minorities, they can join the LGBTQ alphabet soup with a tacked-on “A” at the end.
Truly acting like an ally to a cause isn’t about pledging your allegiance then being absolved forevermore from doing the work. It’s about getting better, doing better, thinking better. It’s about being corrected when you’re wrong more than straight-up bigots because, ostensibly, you’re on this side of things and are interested in doing, getting, and thinking better. It’s about having patience and being forgiving with members of marginalized groups who might not cushion their call-outs and critiques as much as they would with someone who isn’t claiming to be on their side.
After all, you wanted to be part of this group, right? You wanted a special title, too, right? Intragroup dynamics are always harsher than intergroup ones because the assumption is camaraderie-in-arms.