Taking pride in Pride

People have sometimes asked why there are gay pride events, when there aren’t any sort of corresponding “straight pride” events. Some have even wondered why anyone would take pride in something that they weren’t responsible for. And that’s a good question. But the idea of pride isn’t meant to treat being gay, or straight, as some kind of accomplishment on our part. Instead, taking pride in being gay is a response to the people who would want us to be anything but proud.

There are some people out there who’d like it if we were ashamed of ourselves. They’d prefer that we keep this a secret for our entire lives, or better yet, that we didn’t exist at all. To them, being gay should be seen as something unmentionable and not suitable for polite conversation. And they certainly don’t want us to be okay with who we are.

Taking pride in being gay serves as a direct response to the people trying to shame us into silence. It means rejecting the idea that it should be some kind of terrible secret for us to hide. So we don’t hide. We have a massive public celebration of our lives. If people are going to condemn us for who we are, this is our answer to that. It’s not about being proud of the fact that you just so happen to be gay. It’s about being proud of living openly and without shame in a world that stands against you. It’s a spirited declaration that we do exist, we’re okay with being gay, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

So why isn’t there a “straight pride” parade? Well, are straight people faced with any kind of adversity on this scale simply due to the fact that they’re straight? Do you see anyone trying to shame straight people for being straight? This just isn’t an actual problem in our world. Straight relationships are accepted by everyone, everywhere, without question. Nobody objects to them just because they’re straight, and nobody tries to take away their equal rights. This has never been something that straight people are faced with, and there isn’t anything like this that they’ve had to overcome. They don’t have to do anything to live openly without hiding who they are – everyone assumes that they’re straight anyway.

For all of these reasons, the idea of “straight pride” is not so much an equal counterpart to gay pride, but really more of a failure to understand what gay pride means. And because of the sweeping differences in how gay people and straight people are regarded in society, it only serves to trivialize the very real issues that gay pride represents.

The real “straight pride parade” is something that goes on every day. We just don’t often notice it because it’s practically everywhere. You can see it whenever people don’t have that little expression of surprise when they find out someone is straight, and when they don’t start acting differently around straight people once they know about it. You see it when straight people can have access to a marriage license anywhere, without having to engage in a decades-long campaign for their relationships to be legally recognized.

You see it when straight teenagers never have to hide it, because they’re universally accepted for who they are, without being told it’s just a “phase” or getting sent to “reparative therapy” to cure them of their sexuality. You see it every time churches celebrate straight people and their relationships instead of reviling them. You see it when straight teachers and coaches and scout leaders aren’t considered a threat to children because of their sexuality. And you can see it when your family doesn’t try to keep it a secret that you’re straight.

That is the straight pride parade, and it’s happening all the time. You just have to pay attention. And gay people would really like to be a part of that, because there’s no reason why all this should be the exclusive province of straight people. But until that’s possible, there’s a reason why we have our own parades.