June 16, 2011

Why Can't We Have a Straight Pride Parade?

todd_S_2010aBy Todd Schoepflin

Occasionally, when talking about sexual orientation in my Sociology courses, a student will ask “Why can’t we have a straight pride parade?”

It hasn’t happened a lot, but enough students have asked the question to make me want to offer a response. I want to point out that the question tends to come out of nowhere. It’s not as if I lecture on the history of gay pride parades, or offer a sociological analysis of gay pride parades, which might open the door to such a question. Rather, the question gets asked during general discussions of sexual behavior. The question tends to surprise me, so I haven’t yet offered a consistent response in class.

I do tend to begin by answering the question with some questions: Why? Why would you want to have a straight pride parade? What kind of parade would it be? What purpose would it serve? I ask those kinds of questions as a way of pointing out that a parade doesn’t seem necessary for a group that enjoys a privileged way of life. image

Here’s a blunt way of saying it: Life is a straight pride parade. Walk through a mall holding the hand of someone of the opposite sex. Will that generate a dirty look? Bring home someone of the opposite sex to meet your family. Will there be disapproval? Do you have to “come out of the closet” to announce you’re straight? My point is that heterosexual relationships are encouraged and accepted in society. And while there is more approval for LGBT relationships than in past decades, there is still not full tolerance and acceptance for those relationships in society.

One function of a gay pride parade is to seek acceptance and understanding from society. Another purpose, it seems, is to spend a day with a group of supportive people. A man like me doesn’t need to march in a straight pride parade because I can walk in any public space with my wife and not be harassed, judged, mocked, or harmed in any way because of our sexuality. The question “Why can’t we have a straight pride parade?” suggests that straight people are being deprived of something in some way. I just don’t see how that’s the case. Heterosexuality is embraced by our society. It is not a basis for discrimination. So my answer, in sum, is that no parade is needed.

A follow-up question I sometimes receive when handling this topic is: “But why do they have to flaunt their sexuality?” The question assumes that anyone who is LGBT goes out of their way to call attention to their sexuality. Such an assumption strikes me as entirely inaccurate. I won’t pretend that some of my best friends are gay. Actually, all of my best friends are straight (as far as I know).

But I do have friends, neighbors, and co-workers who are gay. None of them flaunt their sexuality. What, by the way, does “flaunting it” mean? How does a person flaunt their sexuality? Am I flaunting heterosexuality by wearing a wedding band? By having pictures of my wife and kids in my office? By making references to my wife?

Students will sometimes claim that what really offends them is public displays of affection—it doesn’t matter who is kissing or hugging in public, they say, they just wish there was less of it. I don’t buy it. Simply put, I think a lot of people aren’t comfortable seeing gays and lesbians as couples. And I can think of some reasons why: it could be how someone was raised (a family belief system), it could be based on religious beliefs, or because of homophobia.

Beyond parades and expressions of sexuality, there is a bigger picture to consider. Lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people deserve to live and work in communities that are “safe, healthy, and satisfying.” I think everyone wants this for themselves and their families. Everyone wants respect. Everyone wants to be treated equally. Sexuality remains a major factor in how people are treated in society. Curiosity about parades and displays of affection are understandable, but the larger issue is the existence of inequality based on sexual orientation. In conclusion, I believe the following questions should concern us: Why aren’t people treated the same in society? What can we do to promote equality? Finally, how can we work to achieve equality?

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Comments

We don't need to have a "straight pride parade" for the same reasons we don't need to have "Children's Day" even though we have Mothers, Fathers and even Grandparents Days. Every day is their day. - ellyn deuink

Very nice response, and I've had to give similar ones in the past, though not as concise as yours.

I see what you're saying, that there is no need because heterosexuals are not oppressed. But as of late, it feels like the heterosexual community is, in fact, being oppressed. All the anti "homophobia" and anti hate campaigns I have seen make me feel as if I am the bad guy. That I am an evil hetrosexual. That was sort of an extreme choice of words just now, but you get my point. Not all heterosexuals hate homosexuals. And if this country is for equality, straight pride parade shouldn't elicit any animosity. It would also show that not all heterosexuals are full of hate.

I never heard this question in my classes, but I can see it happening. I am not much for parades of any kind, but I think your responses are appropriate and on cue.

When I was in college 20 years ago I heard two variants of this complaint from fellow students:

1) Why don't we have a Men's Studies department?
2) Why don't we have White History month?

The answers are pretty much the same of course. But what's behind these complaints?

I think that the problem stems from dualistic thinking: If some other group that I'm not a part of is proud of their identity, then does that mean I should be ashamed of mine? That's the fear that forms the basis of the objection. Black history month must mean whites aren't important. Women's Studies must mean men aren't important. Gay pride must mean straights should be ashamed.

George Carlin nails the problem with pride in one's identity:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OnWnwwxNPA

While I agree with Carline that pride and shame should be reserved for the things that we do, I also understand the genesis of the pride movement which is also a reaction to a dualistic worldview. Gay pride parades arise from a long history of public shaming (ala "The love that dare not speak its name"). The natural response most people have to "you should be ashamed of who you are" is to reclaim pride in that identity as an antidote. But the younger generations, not knowing how shameful it used to be, takes this reclaimed pride as an affront to their own identities because of the lack of context of shaming that originated the pride movement.

So the question is a reaction to a reaction to something that is only dimly visible now.

The only type of parades I love is the Fourth of July Parade and any parade that is for a championship team. Why? I believe a parade should only promote love of one's country known as patriotism and/or love of one sport's team which in turn is love of one's community. Parades that separate or cause high intense emotional responses such as a Gay Parade are not needed in today's world. We need to unite together not apart. Instead of a parade why not hand out information pamphlets that a person can read on their time.

Shannon

@shannon. Very good point. I kind of meant that in my response, but yours is better. Parades of such types only make people come apart.

Jocelyn M

"What, by the way, does “flaunting it” mean?"

Well, say, for example, marching through downtown wearing stereotypical clothing, waving flags, public nudity, public sex (see Folsom Street Fair in San Fransisco). "Flaunting it" means drawing attention to yourself in order to stoke controversy, or making a spectacle of yourself and forcing your lifestyle onto other people. That, as the author points out, is the intention of hosting a "Gay Pride" parade. If a majority group did the same thing it would (rightly) be accused of oppression and insensitivity. If you want acceptance of your lifestyle, don't force it upon other people, and don't behave as though your lifestyle is somehow more deserving of attention, or respect, or admiration, or "pride" than anyone else's. Who's really a creating an "us vs. them" attitude with that kind of sentiment?

I don't know where you guys live but here nobody gives a gay couple a second look unless they act like horny dickheads kissing everywhere they go, and drawing attention to their sexuality ( and no, not just gays) then I'll get annoyed

The idea of a straight pride parade and white history month is offensive. Why, you may ask? LGBT pride parades and racial history months come about as a response to oppression, suppression and violence, generations upon generations of people struggled to attain the level of recognition they have today. To equate these struggles for social justice and human rights with something as trivial as white and straight people's insecurities of feeling left out is ludicrous, disgraceful and extremely offensive. In fact, it points out the necessity of these rallies for equality since most people seem to treat them with little or no importance. Lastly, when there is STILL ongoing discrimination, throughout the world; curative rapes, religious and state sanctioned beatings, killings, therapy, employment discrimination, racism, there can be no doubt that the idea of straight pride and white pride months is ridiculous. For people who still disagree I beg you to reexamine your position, and really ask yourself why you think you need a straight or a white pride month?

Umm yes a straight couple will gets looks if they are not of the same race. Yes your family could be disappointed even if your straight if you bring home someone of a different race. I am in an interracial relationship and I get dirty looks because I'm a black woman and he is an Asian man.

I'm tried of this "We're the Victims" crap Gay people preach. Stop acting like everyone has to respect and like or even care about gay people. The same way races will hate each other and not deal with each other is the same way MOST people treat gay people. You CANNOT force someone or a group of people to accept you. We learn this in the sandbox. Not EVERYONE will like you.

I have nothing against gay people but I do not agree with their lifestyle and I choose not to be too personable with a gay person. I'm not a fake person. I have friends who are gay but they aren't the over the top ones.

If the gays can have their day, so can normal humans. Period.

That is the equality that gays preach about so much. Denial of such a parade for normal by the gays proves that they don't want equality; they want special privileges. They make themselves look like clowns by betraying their gender and acting in affected manners to foster gay visibility. They are the ones insulting the rest of humanity with their evolutionary self-negating behavior. They have no right to complain about anything at all.

I think what people mean by "flaunting homosexuality", is a person who defines himself by his sexuality; his sexuality has to explain, compensate for, justify etc all aspects of their being-- even though it's a part of his being.

I can't help but feel that homosexuality will only become accepted as a normal and perfectly uninteresting aspect of everyday life (and the bigots will whither on the vine); when gay people themselves feel less pressured into thinking of their sexuality as a life-defining, political battle-- and more as something that doesn't consciously define them at all.

I often think that many efforts some gay and lesbian people make to draw specific attention to their sexuality could actually be counter-productive? It is claimed that gays merely want to be treated in the same way as non-gays, but if this is so, why the need for special festivals set aside for us? In fact it could appear that some gays want privileges denied to non-gays; imagine the rightful outcry if a non-gay person were to suggest a "Straight Pride" festival in their local town?

I think there's something self-defeating about the gay pride movement: If homosexuals want to be considered a normal, accepted part of everyday life, I don't believe there isn't a lot of point in activities which are so pointedly self-segregational. You cannot ask people to look beyond labels, if you are unwilling to do so yourselves.

It pains me when self-appointed spokesmen for minorities set up antagonistic movements, rather than doing things which emphasise our common humanity. A tolerant society cannot be built on hatred; when these spokesmen bang on about grievances, they undermine others who would rather live in harmony than outrage. It perpetuates the idea that gay rights are something only gay-identifying people should be concerned with.

Drag queens, camp boys, muscle men, people dressed up in leather. Let them do what they want, sure. It just annoys me to no end that they claim to be doing it on my behalf, and claim to represent me.

I think instead of gay pride, black history, women's day and so on, I think we should have humanity day: Where we celebrate and promote the rights and liberties of *every* human being.

Regarding the comment about not agreeing with "their [gay people's] lifestyle". Good news, there's no such thing as "the gay lifestyle", despite what marketing and magazines want to tell us.

There are as many (gay) lifestyles as there are (gay) people. Sure some gay people only go to gay pubs, visit gay websites, read gay magazines and only have gay friends.

Yet there are plenty of gay people who go to mixed pubs, read a variety of magazines and have varied friends; they are people 'who happen to be gay', if you like. In my experience the men who fall into the latter category, are the ones who are readily accepted by non-gays.

It is not easy for anyone to answer such an awkward question. And surely we don't need to have a straight pride parade irrespective of the different lifestyles we have in our society.

Heterosexuality is embraced by our society. This is not a ground of discrimination. So my answer, in short, is that no parade is required.

Simple...straights don't need to justify their actions.

In other words, straights don't need to justify moral behavior while immoral behavior is an endless road of justification (there isn't a parade long enough for that road).

by this logic we dont need a christmas parade, new years day parade or thanksgiving parade, since these are also accepted. a parade isn't a cry out for acceptance but more of a celebration of a something, whether it be straight or gay pride or thanksgiving, a parade can be used to celebrate anything and if enough individuals desire to celebrate at that extent (a parade) then why the hell not?

Now that more people are coming out it's like straight is out and gay that's sooooo messed up I'm straight and I want straight pride

Gays are not nor have ever been "oppressed". Quit the act. I am an all American mutt who asks for no minority special privliges. I ask no man to make way to my faults. Come live in my neighborhood to see oppression you weak minded drama queens.

Q: “Walk through a mall holding the hand of someone the opposite sex. Will that generate a dirty look? “A: For me, YES!
Q: "Do you have to “come out of the closet” to announce you’re straight?" A: YES I have to come out of the closet and announce that I am straight only to still be doubted and pigeon held to the homosexual diagnosis.'
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I am laughed at while on heterosexual dates. I am called dyke multiple times a day. I have no idea what it is like to be treated like a heterosexual on a regular bias b/c people have diagnosed me gay based on looks since I was about 19. Now I am 39 and the homosexual accusations are worse now than when they 1st began to infiltrate my life in the mid 1990’s. I have been isolated from the USAmericak work place and culture due to constant and unrelentless homosexual accusations which I can not live up to and I face constant controversy surrounding my sexual orientation as do many now a days. I am and flirted with openly by other women coast to coast as if they believe they are doing me a favor by treating me like a homosexual when they are actually boffending me as a heterosexual who needs normal heterosexual boundaries.
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Welcome to 2012. We now live in a world where sexual orientation is determined by how we walk and how we talk and not by how we partner and as a result there are now heterosexuals who are challenged with having to coming out as such. I was bought a heterosexual necklace by a former boyfriend who was forced to endure the homosexual accusations and outcries of, “No way!” as we made our way through crowds of USAmericans. I face more gay biased hate speech when seen on heterosexual dates than I do when I am alone b/c the US American public has come to believe that people are doomed to futures of homosexuality due to the way someos us appear. I have made my own straight pride t-shirt only to wear it and endure being called even more homosexual references for daring to challenge people’s perception of my sexual orientation as homosexual.
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Welcome to 2day where Straight Pride has become a necessity due to the popularity of Gay Pride.

Voodoo Cids – people who are full of baloney often do suffer for it, it they don't learn t o channel it properly. Have you considered a career in marketing?

seriously, even if all your wild tales of Endlessly Appearing Lesbian were true, then you aren't actually experiencing a single iota of prejudice for BEING straight, just for appearing to be gay. So what you've actually experienced is homophobia. What you need isn't to be "proud" of being striaght, because apparently no one thinks you are. You just need clarification; an "I'm straight!" hat would be fine.

I msyefl have some understanding of what that may be like. on the telephone, every customer serivce person i have talked to has called me "maam" and not one has called me "sir"; my voice must sound high-pitched on the phone somehow. Anyway, I don't pretend that I'm somehow experiencing anti-male discrimination, but instead the effects of some sort of mistaken method of determining my sex. (Really, they shouldn't say "sir" or "maam" at all, but that's another story.)

I agree with the commenter who said that there is no need for a White History month or straight parade. The parades and months of honor are for the groups in our world who have been oppressed or harmed. There is no need to have a straight pride parade, I think that with the way homosexuals are treated and bullied, people are proud to be straight so they don't have to go through the oppression and hurt that gay people have to experience.

I always saw Gay Pride parades as a statement, and a place to go to say that we're not afraid, that we shouldn't be put down for who we are. I didn't notice anyone or anything that said that heterosexuals aren't welcome at Gay Pride parades, it's an event that ANYONE can participate in, and do.

@OldDutchPipeFullOfAsianTobacco, in my state I can be kicked out of my job for being who I am, GSA clubs are unheard of in my town, and I fear my life would be in jeopardy if I were to start acting like my true self.

If that's not oppression, I don't know what is.

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