I once had an intense argument with a friend of mine about the politics of choosing. My friend was of the opinion that one should fight equally for every cause, against racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ablism, lookism etc. And I maintained that, while one can be an ally on every cause, eventually you have to choose what you want to work for. And I still feel this way. And in the end I chose racism, because at least for me, it's important to be able to work to within a movement where I don't have to listen to upper class white straight women tell me what to do (feminism), or rich gay men tell me what to do (gay rights).
Plus there are things like ablism, which are not a part of my personal experience, and attempting to get involved to the point of hijacking the issue seems both dangerous and patronizing. In these situations, I think it's better and more helpful to be an ally
I read this post by Black Amazon and I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed. Relieved that someone else felt the same way I did about feminism, and also kind of disappointed, since I'd be hoping maybe just the self identified feminists that I had met were like that and "real" feminism was better.
Anyway, Magniloquence is righteous and everything. And said most of what I think, only better and clearer. But I have to say, I've listened to white straight girls complain about the burdens of being beautiful and thin, I've heard rich gay men say that we must all try to make ourselves inconspicuous and maybe the government will give us some civil unions (or possibly some candy.)
And then I think about Vincent Chin and somehow those things don't seem that important to me. So while I try to be an ally for other people's causes, because there are other struggles than mine that are important, and worth fighting for, I still do believe that you have to choose, in the end, where you're going to be.
You can call them pet issues if you want, but who is going to fight for us if we don't fight for ourselves. And if you won't fight for me, why should I fight for you?