(Trigger Warning: Homophobic Slurs)
I am straight!
There I said it.
The thing about being it is that I didn’t have to hesitate. Not in terms of family, social circle, future, religion, history or sanskaar (culture) or khaandhaan (relatives) or the law. I think that alone is more than enough to put a label called “privilege” on heterosexuality, built over generations at the cost of people in the LGBTQIA community.
A group in the US sought permission to conduct a Straight Pride Parade in Boston. It is meant to celebrate the “oppressed majority” and for equality for all. Well, putting “oppressed” and “majority” in the same sentence is like trying to mix lava and ice—polar opposite things with opposing effects. It highlights the irony in itself. In this current political scenario, it simply fans a fire, which affects those who are not aware of the seriousness of how people are oppressing queer individuals around the world.
That’s literally what is happening with the Straight pride. Like people of Caucasian descent who felt “discriminated against” when the Marvel “Black Panther” came out. Or when a black actor was cast in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, after which #WhiteGenocide trended on Twitter. Not only this, but 2017 witnessed an Alt-Right rally at Charlottesville, with the slogan “White Lives Matter” in a country where Black people have a higher chance of getting shot while white people have a better chance of getting lenient punishment for crimes as heinous as rape. There are bigger WTF moments where male fans edit Avengers films (where the presence of women and minorities is already less) to remove female characters, because they feel ‘oppressed’.
Author James Fell gave us the best explanation about the mediocrity of ‘Straight Pride’.
On Boston’s “Straight Pride Parade.” pic.twitter.com/VBndnrpYlo
— James Fell (@BodyForWife) June 4, 2019
Straight people never had a history of facing bigotry for their sexual orientation. It doesn’t take a social activist to understand that, in general, heterosexuality is the only accepted form of sexual orientation. Heterosexual people don’t hear slurs that demonize them such as “faggot” or “batty boy”. Religions do not teach gay people that straight people will earn the wrath of God just because of their sexuality. I am yet to read about a country that will punish or execute straight people for being straight, that includes ‘straight conversion therapy’ being endorsed by powerful political leaders. Films, books, and other artistic media are not boycotted in large numbers just because straight people are present in them. I am yet to see a parent who is concerned about how heterosexuality will “confuse” or “affect” their children.
The only thing straight people can confidently say affects them are divisions based on religion, class, caste, able-bodiedness (I don’t see any of this penalising their sexual nature) which is not the focus of the ‘Straight Pride’, clearly.
As per the reports, the organisers of the Straight Pride in Boston happen to be part of the Alt-Right and white supremacist groups. Which means that the ‘Straight’ pride is nothing short of a response to Queer Pride. Just like how there was a “pro-gun movement” was conducted at the same time as “March for Our Lives” (which was in response to the mass shooting which took place in Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland Florida). “White Lives Matter” was seen hijacking “Black Lives Matter”, and only this year we saw the “Mard March” in response to the Women’s March, in a country that is notorious for honour killings, forced child marriages, and religion-based oppression faced by women.
The whole idea behind Queer Pride is to be able to embrace your own sexual orientation and gender identity, when you are marginalised on the basis of these. Trans people in India still face anger and flak from cis people, even from within the human rights movements like the Women’s March in the USA, and many Pride events have seen the presence Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, most notably what happened at London Pride in 2018.
Actor Josh Hutcherson, of Hunger Games fame, co-founded the organisation Straight But Not Narrow to call straight people to fight alongside the LGBTQIA community. Recently “Captain America” star Christ Evans hit back at the Boston Straight Pride. And these are examples to follow.
Straight allies should be calling out this kind of bigotry.