By Kate Shackelford and Anna Deason
Artwork by Catherine Ferguson
“Celebrate being heterosexual!” the official website for Boston Straight Pride exclaims. “Super Happy Fun America invites you to celebrate the diverse history, culture, and contributions of the straight community! The Straight Pride Event will be held to achieve inclusivity and spread awareness of issues impacting straights in Greater Boston and beyond.”
Every February during Black History Month, people start asking for a White History Month. The same happens during Hispanic Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Month. Each year, there is a demand for special recognition of privileged majority groups in response to recognition of oppressed or marginalized groups.
June, when LGBTQ+ Pride is celebrated, is no exception. For the past several years, #straightpride has been a trending topic on Twitter at least once during the course of Pride Month, but this year it was a little different. Early this April, Super Happy Fun America (SHFA), an organization based in Boston, Massachusetts, and led by John Hugo, proposed an official Straight Pride Parade to take place in Boston the following August.
Fast forward three months, and on Aug. 31, Boston held its first official Straight Pride Parade, following the same route that the Boston LGBTQ+ Pride Parade had marched just two months prior.
Why Boston? Why 2019? Why did the Boston City government approve the parade? What is the motivation behind Boston Straight Pride? To help us answer these questions, we consulted Livie Glazier (12), co-founder of the SMS Gender and Sexuality Alliance.
“I’m surprised Boston of all places was the place to have it; Boston is pretty well-known for propelling equality,” Glazier said. According to a 2014 study, Pew Research Center even cites Boston as being the fifth most liberal city in America.
Hugo, leader of SHFA website, said Boston “was chosen to launch this important new civil rights campaign due to its historic significance and reputation as a progressive city.” However, the very reason Boston has become associated with progressiveness is not by supporting groups like SHFA, but by celebrating different minority groups through events like LGBTQ+ Pride. By choosing this as the destination for Straight Pride, we feel as though it undercuts the progress Boston has made in the LGBTQ+ community.
As for the timing, there is no evidence as to why the first Straight Pride Parade occurred in 2019. The situation is far too complicated to find one definite reason as to why the first ever Boston Straight Pride was held this year, but it is hard to look past the fact that June 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, commonly credited as the catalyst of the Gay Rights Movement of the late twentieth century.
“I think legally [the government] has to [allow Straight Pride], since, as long as you’re not threatening violence, technically assembly is a fundamental right for us,” Glazier continues. Ironically, freedom of speech and assembly is oftentimes the very reason that events like LGBTQ+ Pride are able to take place in cities that would otherwise disallow them. “[Boston City government] can’t not say yes … because then they would’ve taken it to the Supreme Court [as an infringement upon these rights], which would’ve been an even bigger deal.”
SHFA claims that straight people are “an oppressed majority.” On nearly every page of SHFA’s website there are seemingly endless quotes and statements emphasizing the necessity of Straight Pride to promote inclusivity, equality, and tolerance for all who identify as heterosexual. A quote from Hugo found on the home page specifically states, “We will fight for the right of straights everywhere to express pride in themselves without fear of judgement and hate. The day will come when straights will finally be included as equals among all of the other orientations.”
In response to this Glazier asked, “What does that mean? In what realm are heterosexuals not included in anything?” It is illegal to be gay in 73 countries. Gay marriage is illegal in 70. It is illegal in 26 countries for same-sex couples to adopt children. In another 90 countries, conversion therapy is legal.
Straight people have never faced any of these problems. Their orientation has never been used as an insult in day-to-day conversation. Their rights to marriage, adoption, and even their right to solely exist have never been denied, or even questioned.
Pride is not just meant to celebrate being gay, but, more importantly, to celebrate being able to exist without persecution. Boston Straight Pride was not born out of the necessity for a safe-space for straight people to escape daily exclusion.
While observing pictures and videos from the parade, we noticed that many people brought signs with captions, such as “Make Normalcy Normal Again,” and held large American flags, greatly outnumbering the amount of straight pride flags. Other groups came with signs and shirts wrought with hate and anti-immigrant sentiment. In the end, the scene looked more like a twisted version of a Fourth-of-July-parade-turned-political-rally. It seemed as though everyone forgot the original “reason” Boston Straight Pride was being held — to celebrate being straight.
It’s not unrealistic to expect, that with this new precedent now set, there could be an increase in events similar to Boston Straight Pride, and with 2019 Midsouth Pride now over, we can’t help but wonder if a Straight Pride parade will soon follow.
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