By VICTORIA LARIMER
It’s June. As I scroll through social media, my eyes pass over the assortment of bright colors, motivational stories and outreach support for the LGBTQ community. My thumbs stop. “What about us?” reads one tweet. Another, “Why don’t we have a straight pride month?”
To me, it is an easy question to answer. There is no need for straight pride, as the heterosexual community does not have to undergo the same oppression and difficulties that the LGBTQ community faces.
Because of this, I never thought that I would see these angry posts become a reality. On Aug. 31, a conservative organization, Super Happy Fun America, organized a straight pride parade in Boston, Massachusetts.
The parade had an estimated 200 attendees and about 600 counter-protestors.
President of Super Happy Fun America, John Hugo, organized the event. “Straight people are an oppressed majority. We will fight for the right of straights everywhere to express pride in themselves without fear of judgement and hate,” said Hugo.
Hugo’s claim is outrageous. There has not yet been an instance in which a person has lost their job, been denied housing or has faced physical and verbal assault for an act as simple as holding hands because they were heterosexual. This, “straight oppression” Hugo describes, does not exist.
In the United States, there are currently no federal laws that ban discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the American Psychological Association, 42 to 68 percent of LGBTQ individuals have reported experiencing employment discrimination, while 47 percent of transgender individuals reported being discriminated against in situations of hiring, firing and promotions. In addition to this, over 25 percent of transgender individuals reported they had lost their job due to their gender identity.
Up until the passing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, hate crimes against people due to their gender, sexual orientation or gender identity were not criminalized. Additionally, Virginia’s current hate crime law does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity. It is also currently still legal to force a minor to undergo gay conversion therapy in 42 states.
Until 2015, it was illegal to marry someone of the same sex. And although it is now legal, it is still not easy or widely accepted. Let us not forget the cake debacle involving Masterpiece’s owner Jack Phillips refusing to make a gay couple’s wedding cake–and the Supreme Court’s ruling in his favor.
This is what real oppression looks like and is the day to day reality for the LGBTQ community.
Senior political science and English major, Alexander Rudenshiold shared his reality as a gay man in society. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who support me and my identity. That said, the number of times I’ve been confronted with violence and issued death threats by random people just for existing is breathtaking.”
In a world where the LGBTQ community is constantly facing different forms of oppression, members need some way in which they can show that despite all of the push-back, they are still here.
“[Pride] is a kind of peaceful protest against the oppression of our community and a celebration of our continued survival. The concept of straight pride makes a mockery of the struggles the LGBTQ+ people have suffered and continue to suffer for the right to live and love,” said senior marketing major Caitlin Exum.
Pride is more than just donning rainbow outfits and partying in the streets during the parade. Pride is about affirming to the community and the world that LGBTQ individuals are valid and deserving of recognition. It is a platform to raise awareness for issues that have plagued this community, such as AIDS and violence.
Pride is an important part of the LGBTQ experience. Until heterosexual people truly experience the oppression and harsh realities that the LGBTQ community faces, there is no need for a straight pride parade.
Be proud of who you are no matter your identity, but acknowledge your advantage. Don’t insult the LGBTQ community, my community, by trivializing what we have been through.
A sentence in a previous version of this article implied that the issue of straight pride was a sudden realization to the author, when it actually was a growing point of frustration. The article has since been corrected.