"I march with my best friend" by Octavian

30 Jun 2023

Octavian (he/him) & his ally, Iain (he/him)

Shot by Holly Revell (they/she)

Octavian’s best friend, Iain, is one of his fiercest allies and supporters. Here, they’re at Corner, an LGBTQIA+ led coffee shop in New Cross. Octavian believes approaching everyone with compassion is the best way to tackle fear and misunderstanding. This Pride in London, Octavian marches with solidarity.

What does allyship mean? To me, allyship means that someone is walking alongside you in your authentic self. This can take form in lots of ways - it can be direct or indirect, with many different levels of participation. To me, it's when people respect that everyone's authenticity may not make sense to them, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be respected and celebrated.

Sometimes a good ally is just someone who is constantly challenging themselves to change, learn, and grow with people around them. People that have different experiences and walk in the world in a way that they may not have understood previously, or that they want to understand better.

How does your ally support you? I feel very seen by my allies and, specifically in the case of Iain, that he really appreciates me for exactly who I am. That's felt very deeply by me without it ever needing to be said. One of the most supportive things an ally can do for me is ensuring I don’t have to expel any energy trying to be seen. I need to know that people love me for who I am authentically, and they make space for me in their world.

I feel really supported knowing that he will always educate himself before asking for any labour from anybody else. Iain does the best he can to educate others, taking that responsibility away from trans people who are constantly being asked to do it. That simple act of educating other people is amazing, because they usually will be more open to learning from somebody that they don't feel challenged by; it’s unique to their shared experience. It's a very deep form of allyship that takes a lot of confidence and reflection on the the part of the person doing it.

I can't express how deeply relieving it is to know that I have people out there who know me and know trans people so deeply that they can talk to people and change minds at a level that I've never been able to. It gives me hope.

I march with my best friend

I march with solidarity