Every now and then, something is shared on Facebook that makes me blink several times and say "EH?" I know; it's a highly intellectual response... Anyway, today I saw this picture. And after I'd had my traditional "eh" moment, I had a really good laugh. Because, it's a joke, right? RIGHT?!
"Straight Pride" is, it turns out, an actual thing. The trouble is, it's a thing that isn't remotely needed. It's a thing that has the potential to minimise the struggle for gay equality. I mean, look at the wording in that image: "Apparently it's now intolerant and bigoted to be straight and proud in this upside down, politically correct society we live in."
Is it intolerant and bigoted to be straight and proud? No, not in itself. I'm straight. I guess "proud" is the wrong adjective to use to describe my feelings about it, because I was born that way (just as gay/bisexual people are born that way), but I'm proud of the person I am, if that counts. Being straight is just a part of that.
What is intolerant and bigoted is to suggest that gay pride is somehow a symptom of "the upside down, politically correct society we live in." And let's face it. That appears to be what the image implies.
Oh, how terribly upside down of us, to believe that gay rights are actually just human rights and that no person should be denied their rights based on their sexuality! IT'S POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD!
Here's the thing. We don't need a Straight Pride Day. And I say that as someone passionate about giving everyone the right to be proud of who they are. So if you're straight and you think that's great (ooh! I wrote a poem!), then go right ahead and feel free. Enjoy the life you have! Be proud! But in between celebrating your straightness, have a think about a few things...
In much of the world, being gay is still illegal. In Iran and parts of Africa, it's punishable by death. Even in some countries where gay people are allowed to marry, the marriage is clearly viewed as an inferior substitute for a marriage between a man and a woman. In Russia, with the Winter Olympics taking off, there is a law which criminalises discussion of gay rights in front of minors. Not gay sex. Gay rights. It's against the law to talk about the human rights of an entire group of people in front of children, because those people happen to be gay.
Ask yourselves, whilst you're slipping on your Straight Pride t-shirt, how you'd feel if it was illegal for you to marry your partner of the opposite gender? Question, whilst you're planning to march in support of straight people everywhere, what it would be like to live in a country where you have to hide your straightness in case you're arrested and put to death? Think for a second, what it might be like to be unable to walk down the street, holding your partner's hand, without being subjected to verbal - and sometimes physical - abuse? To have people assume that you might be a paedophile, based on nothing but your sexuality? To have religious people scream at you that you're going to burn in HELL?
The fact is, that's just not the case. The very notion of "Straight Pride" ignores the fact that straight people have privileges that gay people are still denied in many parts of the world. As straight people, we're not subjected to the same persecution. We have no idea how lucky we are in comparison. We can speak about being proud of our sexuality whenever we choose. And that's why, whilst everyone has the right to be proud of who they are, the idea of "Straight Pride" is a pointless one.
Gay Pride was born out of a need for gay people to speak unanimously against the discrimination and violence they faced every day. The term "Pride" is used to counter the shame and social stigma homophobes and bigots throw at the gay community. Gay Pride is now a way for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to unite and find support from those with shared experiences. It's a way of actively and visibly campaigning for equality, whilst celebrating diversity and fostering an atmosphere of inclusion.
Too many people use the "Straight Pride" banner as an excuse to push their anti-gay views, too. It's often used as a response to Gay Pride, which is ridiculous - countering an event created to give an abused minority a voice, by creating an event to give the majority (who already have rights and a platform) an even louder voice? Wow, guys... *Slow clap*
Like I said, I have no problem with anyone being proud of who they are. And if straight people want to be proud of being straight, then go for it. But we don't need to march to defend straight people's rights, because we have them all already. We don't need to speak up for greater understanding of straight issues, because they're the issues that the world already takes notice of and understands. And we don't need a special day for Straight Pride. Because every day is Straight Pride day, in a world where gay people can be executed for their sexuality.
So let's be proud of who we are. But let's be even prouder when people with fewer rights than we have stand together and demand equality. Because they're not asking for gay rights. They're asking for human rights. And we already have them.