In the height of Pride Month, a time dedicated to celebrating the victories, rights and individuality of LGBTQ people, there must be, of course, those who insist on celebrating their heterosexuality. The belief that their unopposed sexuality is something that also deserves to be celebrated is what ultimately lead to the decision that they too deserve to have their own celebration. The result? A Straight Pride Parade.
The idea of the Straight Pride Parade was introduced after conservatives John Hugo and Mark Sahady felt they were not given the same treatment, respect, equality and representation as people of the LGBTQ community. Hugo, founder and president of the organization that initiated the straight pride idea, Super Happy Fun America, was a Republican candidate in the 2018 election to be a representative in the Massachusetts 5th Congressional District, but lost to Katherine Clark, the Democratic candidate. Sahady, who is vice president of the organization, has been associated with republicans and several far-right organizations.
As if the idea of the Straight Pride Parade wasn’t confusing enough, the organization’s most recent development was enlisting Milo Yiannopoulos as the grand marshal of the event. Yiannopoulos is an alt-right political commentator and conspiracy theorist. Although Yiannopoulos has several conservative views, he does identify as a gay man, which seems to defeat the purpose of being the grand marshal for the straight pride parade.
— The Hill (@thehill) June 8, 2019
Yiannopoulos then released a statement, saying “I’ve spent my entire career advocating for the rights of America’s most brutally repressed identity—straight people—so I know a thing or two about discrimination.”
On the surface, this may seem like a ridiculous formality just to appease the insecurities of those uncomfortable with the attention on the LGBTQ community, but now that there are concrete plans to host a Straight Pride Parade, we have to consider the serious underlying issues that the parade represents.
LGBTQ rights have of course been a hot-button issue for many years. Although we’ve taken great political strides, like the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban or the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage, full representation of rights has not been given to the LGBTQ community. Many right-wing conservatives, traditional practitioners of certain religions and rural parts of the country continue to oppress LGBTQ members, which is why gay pride parades are important.
The question has to be asked if whether Hugo and Sahady actually understand the larger purpose of a gay pride parade. The point isn’t to flaunt queerness, but to celebrate achievement within the community.
On the home page of the official website for the Straight Pride Parade, Hugo said, “straight people are an oppressed majority.” These kinds of statements reflect the laughable ignorance of the Straight Pride Parade. Observers of this parade have to understand that straight people have never been discriminated against or denied any right because of their sexuality. Straight people are the majority, yes, but there has never been any kind of oppression where they’ve had to fight for their rights.
The entire website continues on with statements of promoting equality and rights for heterosexuality, which is all too similar to what the LGBTQ community has had to actually fight for. The website almost seems to be making a mockery of oppressed groups by devaluing them as individuals and the hard work that they’ve had to put into fighting for their own equality.
While some people would think that LGBTQ inequality isn’t an issue anymore, these parades are painful reminders that there are people who still don’t understand the continued suffering of marginalized groups.
Not only does this parade seem to disregard LGBTQ history, but it eerily resembles similar the Unite the Right Rally that happened in 2017 at the University of Virginia. What was supposed to be an organized meeting of white nationalists, an already terrifying thought, became a surprise riot lead with torches and weapons.
The anti-Semitic and racist ideologies that lead to the violence of the Unite the Right Rally is proof enough that promoting events, or in the case of straight pride, a parade, draws people who are going to be oppressors against people of different backgrounds.
Even in 2019, our own political climate has fostered an unhealthy view on the LGBTQ community. Although President Trump has spoken in support of them, the track record of his administration shows otherwise.
In March of 2018, the Trump administration banned transgender individuals from serving in the military, resulting in huge backlash from members of the community and organizations in support of them, such as the Human Rights Campaign. In a recent interview with Piers Morgan, Trump cited health care costs as the reason for banning transgender people in the military, but many didn’t believe him.
Even Trump’s own Vice President, Mike Pence, has had a notorious past of supporting conversion camps and voting against LGBTQ rights during his tenure as a member of the House of Representatives and governor of Indiana.
Having prominent figures and a political party that have been historically linked to acting against the LGBTQ community gives way to the alt-right movement that we’re still seeing today. Instead of progressive ideas about inclusivity, we still see the same straight, white man fighting for rights that he was never denied in the first place.
Although both Hugo and Sahady have both confirmed that the Straight Pride Parade is happening and the permit application has been submitted, there has yet to be an official approval of the parade by the city of Boston, where it would be held at the end of August.
Considering that Hugo and Sahady have threatened suit over Boston for not raising a straight flag in their honor, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if they pursued the same legal action if their parade wasn’t approved, either. Regardless of the outcome, we’ll have to wait to see if the Straight Pride Parade was just a joke to troll everyone, or if these people are actually serious.
Whatever outside groups may try do, our values won't change. I invite each and every person to stand with us, and show that love will always prevail. Join us in celebration this Saturday for the @bostonpride Parade and in the fight for progress and equality for all. pic.twitter.com/AwoGuuHuVp
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) June 6, 2019