Let me just start by making an offer to every straight person in America on behalf of the LGBTQ community — if you want to switch with us, we will happily make that trade! You can have the one day a year to feel completely accepted, and we can have the other 364 days of the year where you don’t worry about being followed home and beaten or murdered for “dressing straight,” being fired from your jobs for being heterosexual, being harassed in public for holding your partner’s hand, being denied service in restaurants and small businesses for dining with your opposite-sex boyfriend or girlfriend, and always having to fight tooth and nail for every single right that you get without question and take for granted.
Gay Pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay, but instead our right to exist without persecution.
The entire concept started in 1969, exactly 50 years ago, by protestors at a gay bar in New York called the Stonewall Inn. These gay citizens had enough of being persecuted, arrested, beaten, and shamed for being gay, and were rioting against the police for performing a raid on the bar one early morning in June. There was violence, bloodshed and arrests, but in the end the patrons of Stonewall prevailed, paving the way to the gay liberation movement throughout the 1960’s-1980’s.
The fact that this topic even needs to be discussed is frustrating in the first place, but some privileged people still don’t get it, so here goes. To all the straight people of America, THIS is why you don’t need or deserve a “Straight Pride Parade.”
1. Straight people don’t live with “heterophobia” at schools, at work, and in places of business.
All over America, LGBTQ people still need to disguise their sexuality and hide much of who they are out of fear they will be bullied, fired, or denied service. Straight people have the luxury of being allowed to fully be themselves no matter where they live. Show me one example in the history of America where a heterosexual person was fired, bullied, or refused service solely because they are straight. Go ahead, I’ll wait here, take all the time you need…
2. Straight people don’t get murdered for being straight.
Does the name Matthew Shepard ring a bell? How about Harvey Milk, Steven Charles, Brandon Teena, Steen Fenrich, Gwen Araujo, Michael Sandy, or Rebecca Wight? No idea who these people are? Google any of their names and tell me the last time a straight person faced any of the same tragedies they did because of their gender and orientation? So far in 2019, eight trans women of color have been murdered in the United States alone.
3. Straight people can travel anywhere in the world without the fear of being straight.
When you are checking where to take vacations, do you need to research whether or not a destination has laws that will literally kill you for being straight? Do you ever have to pick somewhere else to go out of fear that you will be harassed in public if you are seen enjoying yourself with your hetero partner? I know what you are thinking: “Countries that enforce the death penalty for homosexuality are places no one wants to visit anyway like Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, or Afghanistan!”, but even in the United States, there are countless places gays will not go out of fear that homophobic violence is awaiting them.
4. Straight people have always been able to legally marry.
Two straight people in America who hate each other have an easier time getting married than two gay people who love each other. You will never have gay people whining that you marrying your straight partner “cheapens” their homosexual marriage, or that you cannot get married because we have a dusty old book of fairy tales that says straight people should not have the right to marry whomever they love. There is not a single state that bans straight marriage, and hetero people don’t live in fear that someday new laws will null and void their current straight marriage because of “religious beliefs.” Straight people also do not have to live under the rule of a gay Vice President who is proudly against straight marriage.
5. Straight people have never been jailed for being heterosexual.
In much of the world, being gay is not punishable by death, but it is punishable by jail time. In America, gay people don’t have the luxury of being nasty, shameless bigots, and then hide behind “freedom of speech” or “exercising my religious freedom” to get support from the Christian right to call for their release from prison after being terrible people. When a LGBTQ person is killed or harassed, all the heterosexual culprit has to do is lie and say, “oh um…I’m Christian! I did it for my beliefs!” and Mike Huckabee and the religious Right will fund a national event and cry “religious persecution” for that individual and demand their release from jail while completely ignoring the true victim(s) in the matter. They will be celebrated as a hero and martyr for their beliefs rather than a criminal for their actions. Remember Kim Davis?
6. Straight people are not called “abominations” for their orientation.
Straight people are not called “sinners,” “abominations of God,” “mistakes,” or “demons possessed by the devil” because of bronze-aged beliefs in a book no one even reads except when they need to justify and enforce their own personal bigotry. There is no practice of “straight-to-gay” conversion therapy backed up by gay politicians and religious leaders.
7. Straight people are not denied medical care for being heterosexual.
Across America, many LGBTQ people still can’t get the proper care or medical assistance because of their gender or orientation and today, in 2019, we still can’t even donate blood. Have you ever been asked “Are you a heterosexual?” on a waiver and were disqualified for circling “yes”?
8. Straights aren’t told to “don’t ask, don’t tell” to sign up for the military.
Imagine having to work with a bunch of gays and lesbians, and you had to act just like them because if they knew you were straight, they would feel so uncomfortable by your existence that they would kick you out. For some in the LGBTQ community, the military is the only place they can find work and avoid homelessness. Straights have also never faced a President who banned them from the only job they could get because they are Trans.
9. Straight people don’t have their orientation used as an insult to describe something negative.
Everyone has heard someone say, “That’s so gay!” to describe something that was the source of ridicule. “Gay” should mean something happy or wonderful, but sadly is too often used as a derogatory insult.
10. Straight people never have to look far to see themselves in mainstream society and pop-culture.
Turn on any TV show or Hollywood film of the last 100 years and 99% of the characters are heterosexual. There is no show or movie about a character struggling with their heterosexuality. You ever wonder why there is a B.E.T. channel (Black Entertainment Television) but not a W.E.T. one? Why we have Pride Month and Black History month but no White or Straight Month? Because every month is white history month, and every single day is straight pride day. These months and parades help assist us in our fight for equality because heterosexual subject matter floods every medium in American society and gay ideas, traditions and individuals are often overlooked. Yes, there are more LGBTQ characters and shows in TV and film than ever before, but it is nothing compared to straight mainstream entertainment.
When Gay Pride season is coming, you know it because you can see it. There will be rainbow flags everywhere, people in elaborate costumes and outfits, drag queens, and yes, people drinking and having a good time. When Gay Pride is over, in most of the country the flags are taken down, the costumes turn back into regular bland clothes, and the drag queens are refined to gay bars on Saturday nights. Gay Pride is for us to be free for one day since we are discouraged from doing so the rest of the year. If you had a straight pride parade, how would we even know when it was over?
I want to ask anyone who still wants a Straight Pride parade that if you get it, what are you going to do? Have a parade with floats of gendered bathrooms? You already have unbelievable, unbreakable, unspoken privilege and now you want to single out one day a year where you get to brag and show off having unbelievable, unbreakable, unspoken hetero privilege all year-round?
If you want the parade, then you must give LGBTQ people total control over your homes, jobs, marriages, laws, rights, happiness, and go through the struggles you put us through every day. It is not your orientation we have a problem with, it’s your privileged attitude, thinking you are entitled to everything everyone else gets while forgetting you already have it, even if no one attaches the word “parade” or “month” to it. Our one day of celebration a year comes at a very high price with a long history soaked in blood, sweat and tears, so instead of being mad that you never had a Straight Pride parade, be grateful you don’t need one.
About the Author:
Brian Moniz is from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner.