The running joke on the internet is that Straight Pride will consist of khaki-wearing men featuring endless amounts of mayo. These jokes riff on the bland, ordinary aesthetic of an event as unnecessary and distasteful as copious khaki and mayonnaise.
Queer folk have been at the root of y’all’s best fits since day 1. Can’t wait to see all the different shades of khaki at straight pride! https://t.co/N5fWPQPdmF— augustus (@slagleyy) June 18, 2019
How much mayo should i bring to straight pride— blood stealing gremlin (@noordinarysocks) June 6, 2019
gay people’s pride flag is the rainbowthe straight people’s straight pride flag is the JCPenney khaki color and type chart— Kevin Sacerdote: Slayer Of Worlds (@IronThumbtack) June 16, 2019
guys don't worry theres already a straight pride parade its called the mayo aisle at your local supermarket— liv (@livpsycho100) June 10, 2019
Beneath the meme-worthy ridiculousness is something much darker. The proponents of Straight Pride push their right-wing conservative ideology to the forefront of American media using palatable, seemingly common sense language. Straight Pride is not about celebrating heterosexuality but seeking to restore social power to skew once again toward right-wing straight folks.
The organization behind Straight Pride in Boston has an eerily Orwellian name called Super Happy Fun America. One can tell the SHFA is right-wing due to its mascot, Milo Yiannopolis, and other members in the organization being right-wing. According to SHFA’s website, the event will celebrate the diverse history, culture and contributions of the straight community.
Straight Pride organizers request the city of Boston give them the same parade route and accommodations as the LGBTQ Pride Parade, such as street closings and the inclusion of vehicles and floats in the parade.
Straight Pride’s demands for fairness is where I start to get red flags. According to the logic behind Straight Pride, this is America where everyone should be treated equally. If gay folks get their parade and accommodations, so should the straight ones.
However, Straight Pride starts to betray its flawed, attention-grabbing logic in other areas. Straight Pride organizers respond in a blog post to critical comments the View had about Straight Pride. The post said, “Heterosexuals have languished in the shadows for decades, but we’re not taking it lying down. Until an ‘S’ is added, LGBTQ pride will continue to be a system of oppression designed to systematically erase straight people from existence.”
(Yes: They’re really advocating for an “S” for “straight” to be added to LGBTQ. It's satire they actually want enforced.)
SHFA's president John Hugo has even said that straight people are an "oppressed majority" on the website. However, I found it difficult to find examples of such oppression other than generalized, unfounded claims that heterosexuals cannot celebrate their sexuality.
I find it difficult to see what “languishing” and “oppression” heterosexuals experienced. There has never been a straight Stonewall riot due to heterophobic police brutality. There have been no straight Matthew Shepards or Pulse shootings. Barring miscegenation laws, straight people were always allowed to marry their partner.
Perhaps the organizers consider a few “heterophobic” comments from the queer community oppression, but it’s not nearly what queer people have historically had to face.
That’s because Gay Pride arose from the LGBTQ community’s need to raise awareness of the threats of murder, parental disownment, prevented marriages and more consequences simply for one’s sexual orientation. Since heterosexuals rarely faced that, the only threat straight people face is not getting enough attention for a month. Hardly a basis to celebrate one’s history.
So Straight Pride masquerading as a crusade for equality is laughable. The event was never about equality, but using palatable language such as “equality” and “fairness” to bring the spotlight back onto straight people when gay people were the ones historically brutalized. Particularly, right-wing straight people want the attention, as I find it hard to believe that liberal straight folks would want any part in the event.
Thus, the problem with the event is two-fold. First, someone saying, “I’m proud to be straight” and celebrating heterosexual history is like saying, “I’m proud to be white” and celebrating white history. Sure, you can find comfort and confidence in your identity. But in a right-wing context in which many of those statements are uttered — as seen in Straight Pride and All Lives Matter — the statements really mean, “I’m proud to be in a dominant group that has had more power over smaller groups, and I’m sad that these smaller groups are getting more attention than me.” It also says that a heterosexual is happy to participate in a system that has historically benefited them over homosexuals, and I think it's poor taste to flaunt your advantages over someone.
When a group has historically held more dominion over others, equality feels like losing power. But, really, it was never that group’s right to accrue in the first place.
Second, the rhetoric behind Straight Pride reminds me of what I see in those denying climate change. Mainly, climate skeptics cherry-pick examples such as a few years where the temperatures decreased to create a narrative that the climate is overall cooling. Those examples may be true and show small periods of cooling, but the broader overall trend over hundreds of years shows the climate is warming. When right-wingers focus on a few, weak examples of "straight oppression," such as straight people feeling unease about celebrating their identity, they miss the broader trend of facing no actual oppression at all compared to LGBTQ folks.
Context matters. And when you skew the context, you can fabricate a narrative.
While right-wingers continue to be ridiculed on the internet for their attention-grabbing event, Athenians will continue to lauding the rich LGBTQ history that warrants celebration. Cameron Harrelson is an Athens Pride board member and event director. He notes the resiliency of the LGBTQ community.
“Our community is no stranger to those who wish to devalue our existence by trying to counteract and delegitimize our celebrations of not only who we are but the progress we have made,” Harrelson said. “The good news is, we know exactly what Pride means to us, and the idea of a Straight Pride only further reminds us of the work we still have left to do — and empowers us to continue living our truth.”
The truth is that Straight Pride attendees can keep their khaki and mayo. Us queer folks will be celebrating our community’s strength and continue gaining equal rights for queer folks. Any “S” can stand for sequins.