On this final day of Pride Month 2019, allow me to note, for the record, that although I am technically a member of the LGBTQIA community (increasingly the most unwieldy acronym in the English language), you’ll never see me marching in any pride parade.
Why not? In short: Because I’m not much into parades and I’m not much into pride.
As I’ve possibly written before, I do not think one’s sexual orientation or gender identity should be a point of personal pride. Rather, I tend to agree with George Carlin, who posited in his final HBO special in 2008, “Pride should be reserved for something you achieve or attain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth.”
If we are to accept—as we should—that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are naturally-occurring phenomena that are totally beyond our control, what exactly is there to be proud of in acknowledging their existence? Morally-speaking, being attracted to the same sex is no different from having green eyes or brown hair, so why should one be celebrated while the others are taken for granted without comment? What, pray tell, are we celebrating?
The question is worth asking during any Pride Month, but it has acquired extra resonance this year in my home state of Massachusetts in light of the so-called “Straight Pride Parade” scheduled to take place in Boston later this summer.
Conceived and organized by a rogues’ gallery of right-wingers calling themselves Super Happy Fun America, this prospective pro-hetero march is an unabashedly snarky, unserious and meanspirited enterprise, intended primarily to protest and ridicule the means by which the queer community has seized cultural power in recent years, as one barrier to LGBT equality after another has fallen by the wayside. (The odious—and highly non-straight—Milo Yiannopoulos will reportedly be the parade’s grand marshal.)
The gist of SHFA’s argument—which should hardly be dismissed out of hand—is that the LGBT contingent and its allies have become far too militant in enforcing the new rules on what can and cannot be said in public about the nature of various sexual identities, and far too unforgiving toward those who stray—either by accident or on purpose—from the official party orthodoxy on the matter.
Case in point: When the idea of a “straight pride parade” was decried by the entire cast of The View, the group released an ever-so-tongue-in-cheek statement, calling the ABC program’s condemnation “an act of literal violence that has endangered the lives of heterosexuals everywhere,” adding, “Heterosexuals have languished in the shadows for decades, but we’re not taking it lying down. Until an ‘S’ is added, LGBTQ pride will continue to be a system of oppression designed to systematically erase straight people from existence.”
The joke, in other words, is that the LGBT rights movement has been so wildly successful as of late—and has, indeed, so fully entered into mainstream culture as to be borderline uninteresting—that it has apparently left many heterosexuals feeling left out and marginalized. As with men and women in the age of #MeToo, the victims have supposedly become the victimizers, and vice versa. And so long as straight people see themselves as a disfavored minority—albeit one that comprises well over 90 percent of the population—why not release some of that pent-up anxiety with a good old-fashioned parade?
Yes, it’s manifestly ridiculous—but why is it any more ridiculous than a parade celebrating its opposite?
Either we’re all equal or we’re not. Having spent decades successfully convincing most of America that it’s wrong to judge people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, don’t America’s queer folk have a special responsibility to allow heterosexuality to be given its proper due? Since when did sexual identity become a zero-sum game?
In a Newsweek cover story in 2012 that half-jokingly referred to Barack Obama as “the first gay president,” Andrew Sullivan wrote, “The point of the gay rights movement […] is not about helping people be gay. It is about creating the space for people to be themselves.” This, in a way, was a re-stating of Sullivan’s 2010 proclamation, “The goal of the gay rights movement should be to cease to exist.”
So far as I’m concerned, that is the attitude the LGBT community should strike about itself in 2019: We’re here. We’re queer. Let’s move on.