Oppressed Oppressors: Angry straight white men

“Did you know? * No one said #AllLovesMatter, before they heard #BlackLivesMatter. *No one championed #StraightPride, until there was #GayPride. *No one cared about #WhiteHistoryMonth, before #BlackHistoryMonth. *No one mentions #Men'sRights or #Egalitarian, until there's talk about #Feminism. Let's face it. You never cared about this things before. And the only reason you bring them up now is because your cozy bubble is about to burst, and the thought of marginalized people having the same rights that you've always been able to take for granted scares the shit out of you. Well, sorry. The good ol' days, when women and black people knew theeir places — and Queer was just the dirty family secret no one ever talked about — are over. Welcome to the 21st century.”

What-about-isms and false equivalencies abound. (Click to embiggen)

When I first saw people referring to straight pride this week, I didn’t think much about it. It’s one of the least intellectually-sound critiques that is ever leveled at Pride or Queer rights in general. And I’ve already written about why LGBTQ Pride is still needed more than once. Since the day before I saw these first mentions, I also saw a huge number of clicks on one of those posts I wrote years ago, I thought, “Okay, some idiot somewhere has written about straight pride, it made the news, and people are googling related terms.” Turned out it wasn’t just that someone had written about it. In case you didn’t hear, the leader of an alt-right group has strong-armed the city of Boston into giving him a permit to hold a so-called Straight Pride Parade.

“The Venn diagram of  'straight pride parade' and 'what about men's appreciation day?!' is a circle filled with swastikas”

That’s correct! (click to embiggen)

Given that the parade organizer has previously organized or been featured prominently in alt-right/neo-Nazi rallies that have turned violent before, I guess we can’t treat this as a joke. No matter how tempting it is. The truth is that nothing makes a certain kind of straight white man more angry than when they aren’t the center of the conversation. They are outraged someone they perceive as “other” gets treated equally.

And it isn’t even fair to say equally. There have been studies that show when women talk for more than 15% of a class or presentation or similar activity that the men perceive that the woman are dominating the conversation. Only 15%, the men describe it as “equal time.” I haven’t found similar studies about their perception of people of color or queers, but I have a life time of personal observation to say the participation of other marginalized people are perceived the same way. If queer characters exist in a story or movie or whatever in more than a restricted token manner, they scream “why are the gays ruining everything?!” And when it comes to people of color, well, a black actor was featured prominently in the first trailer for The Force Awakens and they lost their collective minds, calling for boycotts (and worse).

And I know it isn’t just angry straight white men. There are angry straight white women who make the same “why don’t we get a straight pride day?” arguments, too. Believe me, I know. I’ve had that one thrown at me by relatives at family get-togethers.

There are two different, completely true answers to the question of why there isn’t a straight pride day.

The first answer is: every day is straight pride day! Every day day society and strangers celebrate and cheer straight marriages. Every day society recognizes and approves of the existence of straight people. Every day thousands of television episodes are broadcast in which the straight characters are the protagonists and their stories and concerns are recognized, accepted, and celebrated. Every day little boys are described as future lady’s men, and little girls are called heart-breakers, and no one screams at the people who say it that the children are too young for that. 99% of all movies, books, songs, plays, and TV shows center straight people and their concerns.

"It's official. Boston is going to have a 'Straight Pride Parade.'   I'm straight. I like being straight. A big reason why I like being straight is that I've never once experienced bigotry for my sexuality. I didn't have to fight for my right to marry the person of my choosing. I didn't have to concern myself with being beaten or killed because others didn't accept who I wanted to sleep with. I didn't have to stay closeted out of fear, or worry about the reaction of my family, friends, or colleagues by coming out.   I never got called a slur for being straight. No one told me I'm going to burn in hell for being straight. There aren't any programs where I could be sent to be tortured into no longer being straight. There aren't any countries where you can be put to death simply for being straight.   There is nothing I ever had to fight for, or struggle against, because I'm straight. And therefore, there isn't any reason to take pride in it. Grateful for the privileges I get? Sure. But pride? I don't see it.   What I do see is that this parade is misnamed. It's not a 'Straight Pride Parade." It should be called a 'I'm a homophobic piece of shit' parade."

(click to embiggen)

The second answer is: there is no systemic bigotry against straight people. There are no laws, and never have been, baring straight people from teaching or adopting children. There have never been laws against straight people getting married. No straight child has been thrown out on the streets by their family because they are straight. Straight people have never been barred from the military for being straight. No one has ever claimed that programs to stop bullying of straight children in schools is a violation of freedom of religion. No child or teen-ager has ever been forced into ex-straight therapy. People aren’t bashed and murdered for being straight. Straight couples holding hands in public have never been attacked by a mob and beaten for being straight. When a straight couple is depicted kissing in a movie no one organizes boycotts to stop straight sexuality being shoved down the public’s throat. No authorities have ever said that they don’t hate straight people, they just disapprove of their lifestyle. No medical associations or governments have ever officially defined being straight as a dangerous mental disease.

All that has happened is that when some straight people express bigoted opinions about queer people, society as a whole no longer chimes in to agree. Worse than that, some people actually point out the homophobia. In some circumstances the law doesn’t penalize queer people the way it used to. In some circumstances the law no longer privileges straight people to the detriment of queer people.

That isn’t the same as being oppressed. It isn’t the same as being bashed. It isn’t the same as being murdered. It isn’t the same as being forced into homelessness. You did not have to overcome adversity, bigotry, threats of violence, actual violence, family rejection, and more just to live as an openly straight person.

“Gay pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn't a straight pride movement, be thankful you don't need one.”

“Gay pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a straight pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.”

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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