The Need for a Straight Pride March & Other Myths.

Over at Facebook I have many different types of friends (like 2200 friends) and of course they have friends who represent many perspectives. Today on a friend’s wall posting about wearing purple in support of LGBT youth two straight folks raised objectives revealing that they felt “bullied” into showing support of gay kids. In frustration one of them said, “We need to have a Heterosexual Pride Parade.” The other agreedMr. & Mrs. Salt & Pepper.

Now I know a lot of straight people. Some of my best friends are heterosexual. In fact, I come from a distinctly heterosexual family that I love. I know that some straight folks feel put upon by all of the recent news about gay. lesbian and transgender suicides and bullying. “Why do we have to hear about THEM all the time?” Hmmmm. Welcome to my world where I constantly have to go out of my way to hear about anything other than straight lives.

Lately I have been thinking of the subtle powerful force of heterosexism, like high blood pressure, I consider it the “silent killer” insistent and constant in its messaging that heterosexuality is NORMAL, the idealized norm, what everyone is expected to be, an identity that is celebrated, rewarded and represented to the exclusion of all others.

Like a low-grade fever or undetected high blood pressure, non-straight, non-gender normative people live with a steady barrage of pro-heterosexual messages mixed in with anti-LGBT messages. Even in US states where they offer “gay marriage” everyone knows it is not the same as a straight marriage because of the federal protections granted to heterosexual couples and denied to all others. But beyond the legal protections or lack of protections in the household, on the job and elsewhere, we get a deluge of pro-straight messages in pop songs, commercials, movies, religious ceremonies, proms–shoot even salt and pepper shakers! I know that there is a growing movement to include LGBT lives and voices in the media and on the agenda of the board of education, but it’s spotty at best and is often drowned out by the heterosexism that exists in almost every encounter silly and sublime.

Here’s an example of straight pride & privilege.

Marueen says, “My husband Bill & I got together w/ our two daughters & their husbands to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and Cindy & Todd’s first baby. At church the pastor said a blessing over the family & we recommitted our vows.”

And everyone says, “Oh, that is so nice.” And it is and there are gifts and cards and photos and public sharing on Facebook and beyond revealing pride and affirmation and celebration of Bill & Maureen’s successful heterosexuality.

Of course most don’t think of Maureen & Bill expressing “Heterosexual Pride.”

It’s just “normal.”

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This post has 10 Comments

  1. Steve thack on October 15, 2010 at 11:19 am Reply

    Generally in agreement with you. But last example you give isn’t necessarily celebration of hetro sexuality. More a celebration of love and committment. It carries an unstated presumption that the church in question isn’t doing the same the following week for a gay couple. That the priest in question is straight or at least not open about his sexuality etc.
    Yes most of the time such a celebration would be in a context that made it a celebration of hetrosexuality but not always.
    Fingers crossed i can celebrate my 30 th wedding annivery in such a way ( 29 years to go!)

  2. Peterson Toscano on October 15, 2010 at 11:56 am Reply

    Hmmm, are you sure it is not also a celebration of heterosexual sex? Where did all those children come from? “Our two daughters…” suggest that Bill & Maureen engaged in heterosexual sex at least twice (unless of course their girls are adopted, but even then there would likely be the statement, “We tried to have children, then we ultimately adopted.” TRY in this case is another way of saying Heterosexual Sex.)

    Of course if Bill & Marueen were childless, because of infertility, their own choice to not have child or a sexless marriage, the church would still bless their union, but the reality that they are successful heterosexuals (with off-spring to prove it) sweetens the deal, heightens the celebration.

    Two homosexuals celebrate their and many people think about gay sex.
    Two heterosexuals commorate theirs and it becomes a celebration of love.

  3. Steve thack on October 15, 2010 at 12:53 pm Reply

    See your point. Certainly don’t feel that way in church i’m in though. Lgb weddings do though outnumber hetro most years at the church.
    Anniverys prob biased the other way. And i’d expect a family to be celebrated for what it is regardless.
    Don’t get me wrong i do notice hetro bias, gets my goat when i see say author bio s that seem to think telling me about partner and kids is somehow most important thing .

  4. Shirley on October 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm Reply

    I’m not going to stop celebrating my marriage on our anniversary, because to me it is not just something that I am really grateful for, in some ways it is also something that was hard won and that sense yes, I am proud of it. And yes, I am happy about being a parent and when people are supportive of me I thank god, because I came very close to making a massive mess of my life and it’s only through the support of other people that that didn’t happen. Doesn’t everyone struggle? I support my gay friends’ relationships and the births of their children because these things are beautiful and difficult and require support.

    ‘Successful heterosexuality’…. I don’t know Peterson, I think when a woman (any woman, gay or straight) has a healthy child those close to her breath a sigh of relief not because she has conformed or had hetero sex, but because it is something that cannot be controlled, by anyone, it is just good luck if things go right, and we should be grateful for it.

    Everyone in a relationship has their own struggles, even if you’re in a group that society supposedly sees as ‘normal’ (And I struggle with that sometimes too. I’m constantly being told what to do, everywhere I look; I should have more children, I should get a job, I shouldn’t call myself a feminist, I shouldn’t be a feminist, I shouldn’t speak out, I should speak out, etc etc). I wonder if the problem is not that straight people are being congratulated for being straight, but rather that people are not always open about how tough relationships and parenthood can be. This isn’t going to happen on Facebook and it is one of the criticisms I have of Facebook that people can easily make their lives seem perfect in their updates, when of course nobody’s life is perfect.

    What would you suggest that Bill and Maureen do?

    • p2son on October 16, 2010 at 7:24 am Reply

      Thank you for the honesty in your comment. I think you are taking this too personally. Bill and Maureen are not doing anything wrong. It is not wrong to celebrate an anniversary. What I am getting out that this sort of thing is paraded around all the time by some folks who then say, why is there a Gay Pride March? Do we have a Straight Pride March? Yes, you do. You are proud of your straightness, you flaunt it. And why not? But when gays begin to express their love, reveal that they have partners, put photos of husbands or wives on desks, we often hear things like, why are you flaunting your sexuality? Not in all places. There are more and more affirming, inclusive places, but still, many of us wonder at the screwball reactions we may get from co-workers, family and friends when we assert ourselves and share our lives.

      How often have I heard a non-affirming straight person react, “You don’t hear me talking about my sexuality!” But it does get flaunted over and over and over again. And the privilege that most straight people have is that they don’t even see it. They don’t see how much airspace they are taking all the time. Then last week we had news stories about gay suicides and I hear straight people (not you) complaining about the gay agenda and all these news stories. You can see the context in which I wrote my post. Sorry folks that you had to hear about the gays for a change. Don’t worry straight news will be back full force.

      The point you make is very valid. The script of what a straight life is, “the normal life” does not simply affect non-straight people. As the rhetoric ramps up people feel more and more pressure to fit the ideal. Gender roles, heterosexual myths of wedded bliss serve to mock those who are not part of the institution (including single straight folks) but serve to harass straight people in it if they deviate from the script.

      Is this making any sense?

  5. Shirley on October 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm Reply

    Yes it does make sense and I’m sorry for taking it too personally, bad habit! I think I see where you’re coming from and it is annoying for the straight-eye view to be continually presented as the standard by which all ‘other’s will be measured. I don’t know what can be done about it except to challenge it wherever possible in the hope that one day it won’t be so ‘obviously’ the norm. It’s nice to watch Mad Men and recognise that some things have changed regarding how we treat women. Maybe in the future there’ll be a show set now and people will watch and marvel at how bizarrely people in 2010 behaved as they observe them sitting around and have a straight-faced (pun intended) discussion about ‘whether or not gays should be included in the church’ etc. I hope that’s the direction we are going. I know it is people like you who are the voices crying in the wilderness. Tough place to be. I do appreciate this discussion very much. x

    By the way, what is up with that ornament? The bride and groom look like they’ve had most of their collective eyes gouged out!

  6. paul on October 18, 2010 at 10:01 am Reply

    In your scenario we find ourselves back in church where the celebrating heterosexual couple is enjoying the affirmation of their particular community. Clearly, there are many denominations of churches out there that are heterosexist and it can be argued that they are the most prominent purveyors of anti TBLGQ propaganda and sentiment.

    But, if such communities are going to be true to form (i.e., grabbing hold of a few bible verses and establishing rules/form based on them-after all, the whole bible is the “inerrant inspired word of God”), they may need to reconsider celebrating marriage. The same new testament author who supposedly condemns relations between those of the same sex, doesn’t exactly give rousing endorsement to opposite sex unions. I, of course, speak of the apostle Paul who stated clearly that it’s better to be single than married and that marriage is the alternative to burning.

    If we read the bible as some (many!) are wont to do, straight married folk could be construed as second class citizens in the kingdom of God. They weren’t ‘gifted’ with the ability to be celibate, so had to compromise their dedication to God by getting married. Instead of celebrating they might be asking the question: “why didn’t God make me celibate?” “Why am I thus?”

  7. Nathaniel on January 8, 2011 at 2:47 am Reply

    Unfortunately, that is and will always be the case when dealing with majority/minority issues. The majority get to hide behind whatever they deem is natural to them, and everyone else is measured against that. And of course it doesn’t end with the gender/orientation stuff. Ethnicity, race, age weight, disabilities, etc. etc. It’s like grade school all over again, where to stand out in any way meant to incur the animosity of everyone. it’s so ubiquitous it seems instinctive.
    What I find sad is the example you use – how some straight folks don’t understand their privilege. I assume they are also white and probably Christian, but certainly such a part of mainstream society that they take it all for granted.
    I think all you can do is try and educate – as you are doing here -that there are many people that don’t fit their mould and pay a real price for it. Not least in the lack of understanding they show by their comments.

  8. Anonymous on March 23, 2011 at 12:13 am Reply

    You have heterophobia if you think heterosexuals are destructive, now i am very respectful to gay people i have gay friends but no need to hate on heteros

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