Why We Need LGBTQ Pride

Why we need Gay Pride

This post is way overdue. I’ve been thinking of writing it for years – but somehow never put the text to page. Perhaps I was optimistic – I think part of me thought “Do we really need another straight person weighing in on gay rights? Does anyone really want to hear from me?” I think I also told myself that maybe the situation was okay now – that we as a people had embraced the LGBTQ community as equals and could finally put decades of hate and mistreatment behind us. I now see that I was foolish and complacent.

Hearing about the so-called Straight Pride parade happening in Boston (my home city) later this summer has made me feel many emotions – mostly sadness. While I welcome everyone to read this post, I confess that I am writing it for my fellow straight people – particularly anyone who feels that a “Straight Pride” parade is needed. My hope is to enlighten you by sharing my own journey of discovery. I’m not here to name-call and I’m not hear to insult – there’s too much of that going on right now. Let me just share a story and, hopefully, change your mind.

Where I Started

I grew up in Massachusetts during the 1990s, at a time when “gay” was often used as an insult. I called things gay to say that they were weird, lame, or stupid – and I used this word fairly often in my high school days. I won’t say that I was the only one, but I was part of that culture. I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t say it with hate – I didn’t hate gay people, at least not consciously.

As a teenager struggling with an avalanche of hormones, social anxiety, and mental illness – homosexuality was just something else that I didn’t understand. It weirded me out to think of people who were so different from my own budding sexuality – it made me uncomfortable to think about, but mostly because I kept thinking “man, I hope I don’t turn out gay.”

And it wasn’t because I saw them as inferior or wrong – I just saw all the shit they got. I didn’t fully process it (that didn’t come until much later), but I externally was like: These people are looked at as wrong in society’s eyes. Even though Massachusetts had just legalized gay marriage, we were surrounded by states that hadn’t, and I saw a lot of stories on the news that were essentially debating the humanity of these people.

My definition of “support” included liking South Park, which had one gay character on it – so there you go.

I didn’t understand the hatred, mostly because I didn’t see gay marriage as a big deal. “As long as they don’t get married on my lawn – why should I care?” Was a common joke of mine back then. I thought I was being supportive – but I’m cringing writing this now.

“What’s the big deal?”

High school ended and I started college – going from Massachusetts to Montreal (or from liberal to more liberal). Canada had legalized gay marriage as a nation in 2005, so I just figured it was a non-issue. I was honestly surprised to see that Gay Pride parades were still a thing and that the gay village was a vibrant community in Montreal. I still initially avoided it – mostly due to insecurity.

I was still at the level where I thought Brokeback Mountain wasn’t good, it had just “used” homosexuality to win awards. Of course, I hadn’t bothered to actually watch it before forming this opinion.

But I started getting annoyed at gay pride. After all, what was the point? Gay marriage was legal – equal rights achieved – end of story, right? That’s what I figured anyway (in my glorious wisdom as a 20 year old). I started to think that they were being crass – pushing the rest of the world to not just acknowledge them but demanding our perpetual attention. I believe my thought process was “Yeah, you’re gay. I get it. Can we move on?”

I just kept thinking that “pride” was wrong. After all, pride is a sin in Christianity and shouldn’t we only be proud of WHO we are, not WHAT we are? Wasn’t that why Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was so famous?  I wasn’t proud to be straight – I just was. Why wasn’t that enough for the LGBTQ community? Why did they still need all the public dancing and parades and attention?

My Enlightening

During this time, I met two women who were in a relationship with each other and we all (somehow) became friends. They were patient enough to put up with my antics – including my continued questioning of the need for gay pride and wondering why it was all a big deal. It’s not that they didn’t call me out – they did, but they also kept talking to me, which, in retrospect, was huge.

Eventually, one even convinced me to spend time with her at Queer Concordia – the LGBTQ student area on my college campus. I had stopped by there a couple times before to see them, but never to hang out. I still saw it as somewhere that wasn’t “mine” if that makes sense. It was a place for queer people and, since I wasn’t queer, I figured there was nothing for me there.

It’s amazing how much I avoided the village – which is an amazing part of Montreal by the way. So many good restaurants and bars in that area.

But she had to stay so, if I wanted to hang, it meant I had to stay there too. So I sat – being bored at first – chatting with her and watching as people came and went. Queer Concordia was really just a couple rooms. The main one was a common space – there was a couch and a couple desks for computers. The walls were lined with posters and bookshelves.

It pains me on multiple levels to admit that, despite being a writer, it took me a while to really look at these bookshelves. It actually wasn’t until that day that I really took the time to read the titles and several excerpts.

And holy shit.

I was expecting books on famous LGBTQ people or inspirational stories about gay pride or something like that. What I found was book after book of “Hey, you’re gay. Please don’t kill yourself.”

It boggled my mind. Gay marriage had been legal here since 2005 – why did people still need these. It was that day that I realized being legal didn’t mean being accepted. It didn’t even mean widespread tolerance.

The Truth about LGBTQ Pride

It’s funny how you can know things without understanding them. Reading those books didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already “know.” I knew gay people had been mistreated. I knew they had suffered. But I knew it like I knew basic math. It was all abstract – all just facts existing in the ether. But reading the personal, often heart-breaking, stories of people (some of whom had since committed suicide) was different.

Because of a multitude of factors, including my own personal insecurities, I had always kept LGTBQ issues distant from me. I acknowledged them the same way that people might acknowledge a spider on a tall ceiling. I looked into it as little as possible.

Looking back, I think I was still too caught up in my own warped perceptions of masculinity to fully see how much of a jerk I was being.

Reading these books made me realize the simplest truth. These were people. Human beings who went through the same insecurities and hardships I did, only they had a major extra issues piled on. They weren’t “normal” in society’s eyes. They were the insult that people like me had been so casually tossing around. They were the other that we weren’t sure deserved all the same rights and protections.

Did God love them? It was a matter of debate and who you asked.

Holy fucking shit.

When I think of what a mess I was as a teenager (and really through my early 20s), I can’t imagine dealing with any more challenges. The fact that some of these people had taken on my problems and more…and without my caring.

It was that day that the apathy I had built up began to crumble and empathy and sympathy started rushing in.

You see, gay pride isn’t about being proud. It’s about being okay. LGBTQ people have felt not okay for so long – so fucking long – that they need sometime to feel okay. To feel like, “yeah, I’m gay, so what? I’m still human!”

As a straight person, I never had to feel bad about being straight. Every major romance I read or saw on television/or in theaters featured my sexuality as the norm. Every religion supported my sexual orientation. No culture criminalizes straight sex. I had never had to think about these things…because I was “normal” in that regard.

And I never considered what my “normal” was doing to other people, mostly because I was too busy using it to reassure myself that I was okay. Heck, at least I wasn’t an “other” – so, even at my lowest, I had that going for me.

Tulsi Gabbard Pride Parade
I think this partly explains why I’m supporting Tulsi Gabbard for President. I see in her a similar journey to the one I went on. We were both wrong – but at least now we’re trying to be actual human beings.

It was a selfish form of humanity. I had claimed to care about these people while still not seeing them as people. I identified them as an “other” and that got annoyed when they started to turn that into a positive (or at the very least a neutral).

I was the asshole. I had given them only token awareness instead of human understanding.

From that point on, I never said “gay” as an insult again – and I started going along to Pride Parades. It was the god damn least I could do.

So to you out there who may feel you need “straight pride: – my question is, why? Which LGBTQ person ridiculed you for being straight or made you feel inferior? If you’re feeling left out now – it’s because you are doing it. You may not be doing it consciously, but you are separating yourself from them. LGBTQ pride isn’t about making us feel inferior, it’s about bringing them up to our level.

We’re all the same. We all need to react with compassion and kindness. If you want to live in a world where LGBTQ pride isn’t needed, then you have a simple job to do: support, support, support. Go to the parade – make a friend – have a chat. Denounce any who use their religion as a smokescreen to be cruel to their fellow humans.

Why we need gay pride
The fight is not over. The President of the United States recently passed a ban on transgender people serving in the military, casting a blanket statement that says “You can’t trust them. They’re weird.”

It’s not hard. It’s super fucking easy. We’re not the front-line here. We’re the backup singers to musicians who are finally getting their chance to sing. And it’s amazing – it’s so amazing that children born today MAY actually grow up in certain places where being LGTBQ is okay – and not a source of shame.

It is our job as allies to support these people and to help them fight the unfairness they still face.

I promise, if a day ever comes when LGBTQ people rule the world and start saying “Hey maybe we should outlaw straight marriage” or “hey maybe we should start a religion where straight people are evil,” then I will be on the side of straight pride. But that day is a science fiction parody at best right now.

The rainbow is all colors guys – we’re on there too. Please reach out to the LGBTQ community and get to know them. I’m sure you’ll reach similar conclusions.

And – to all the LGBTQ people reading this – All I can say is I’m sorry for taking so long to see you as people. I love you all – Your spirit and patience are fucking inspiring. Keep being awesome.


Thinking Progress: Ohio Straight Pride

Okay, time to talk on a controversial issue… something new and different. For those of you unaware, recently students at an Ohio University put up signs/posters advocating for “Straight Pride.” I’ll let the now infamous poster speak for itself:

o-STRAIGHT-PRIDE-570In case you can’t read the fine print at the bottom, it says: “Brought to you by the students that are sick of hearing about your LGBT pride. Nobody cares about what you think you are, or what you want to have sex with. We have nothing against your sexual orientation. We just don’t give a fuck.”

Apparently there were other posters… but this seems to be the only one I could find. Naturally, a poster like this upset a good many people. The LGBT community at the University denounced the poster as “homophobic” and they were promptly taken down.

Okay, for the record, I do think these posters are incredibly insensitive. They undermine the importance of Gay Pride and the LGBT community by indicating that homophobia, a prejudice very much still alive and well, is over and done with. Pretending that a prejudice is over, despite blinding evidence to the contrary, is sadly nothing new.

I tried to find a larger version of this because it is just so perfect.
I tried to find a larger version of this because it is just so perfect.

Is that poster homophobic: yeah, through the omission of any admittance that homophobia is actually an issue that a lot of the LGBT community still struggle with. I am not saying these posters are right, or validated, or anything like that.


This might actually be the start of a good thing.

I know, I can’t say something like that without making a solid attempt to back it up. Progress happens slowly… but it does happen. Anyone who says that there has not been progress on an issue like racism is as much an extreme fool as anyone who says racism is over. For example: we right now are enduring an awareness of a tragic and unacceptable level of racism on United States police forces. Their actions are criminal and for many black families, this ugly reality is too real. That said, this is still a definite improvement over 200 years ago when virtually ALL blacks in America were property, not people. We (Americans) do have a black president. There is an increasing number of successful black individuals in the world. It is getting better: slowly, painfully, but progress is happening.

The progress on gay rights has been far more extraordinary, given the time scale. Sixty years ago: being gay was a disease in most of the “civilized” world. Now, gay marriage and equality are rapidly occurring. The difference in generational thinking on the issue of gay rights is staggering, with a reported 71% of “millennials” being in favor.

3-20-13-1I wrote some time ago on the coming out of actress Ellen Page and athlete Michael Sam, and said how irrelevant their sexuality should be to their identity, and I still believe this. So I am admitting common ground with these “Straight priders.” I do feel that, in a perfect world, that Gay Pride should no longer have to exist because a person’s sexuality is not innately linked to the content of their character. I am straight, and I blessedly do not need straight pride, because being straight in the world matters no more than having blue eyes.

If all you see when you look at actor Ian McKellan is a gay man, then you are really missing the point of just what an awesome human being he is.
If all you see when you look at actor Ian McKellen is a gay man, then you are really missing the point of just what an awesome human being he is.

Even Ian McKellen is saying “get over it.” How different is that message from the poster above? Well, authorship matters. I mean, who better to say that homophobia is over than a gay individual? Well.. as of this moment, I do not know who authored the “Straight Pride” posters. I have made an effort to locate this information but have been unsuccessful. If any out there know for sure and can give me a link: it would be appreciated. I do know who is being blamed:


"When individuals belong to dominant societal cohorts (Caucasian, male, heterosexual, etc.) it is very easy to state "We have nothing against your sexual orientation" and to claim that efforts to raise awareness are "annoying." For minorities who every day face discrimination and marginalization, such efforts are necessary -- without zeal and persistence, sociology teaches that minority concerns very easily go by the wayside. Thus, dismissing the efforts of LGBTQIA students to push for equitable treatment as unnecessary is dangerous because it catalyzes discrimination, whether meant to do so or not." - YSU Student Government
“When individuals belong to dominant societal cohorts (Caucasian, male, heterosexual, etc.) it is very easy to state “We have nothing against your sexual orientation” and to claim that efforts to raise awareness are “annoying.” For minorities who every day face discrimination and marginalization, such efforts are necessary — without zeal and persistence, sociology teaches that minority concerns very easily go by the wayside. Thus, dismissing the efforts of LGBTQIA students to push for equitable treatment as unnecessary is dangerous because it catalyzes discrimination, whether meant to do so or not.” – YSU Student Government

Hate to tell the politically correct and super sensitive body that is YSU, but that’s profiling. Are they right: probably. But this general accusation is no different from someone saying “oh you got robbed, probably a black guy” or “listen to that lisp, he’s probably gay.” If we’re going to be equal, equality goes both ways. General rule of life: if you don’t know something, don’t jump to conclusions.

Another point of contention: I have real problems with them removing the posters. The United States is at least supposed to be a land of freedom of expression, and this arguably is our most important feature. Whether something is “offensive” or not does not matter. For those wondering, here are the limitations of freedom of speech. It is important to note that material that would directly incite harm to others is not protected. That said, those posters are not openly hateful. They do not encourage violence towards the LGBT community, at least not so far as I can deduce from that one (again, I have tried unsuccessfully to find other posters). Are they offensive? Absolutely, but what does that even mean?

0e0Idiots are part of progress, this is the truth. People denouncing racism or homophobia or anything else as “over” can be seen as simply people trying (sometimes damagingly) to over simplify life. The fact that a bunch of college kids got overly wound up in their political views and published controversial material is nothing new, and should not be given the attention of the media world. It draws focus to them and gives them more power than they should have.

So was “Straight Pride” a good thing by itself, nope. Seen as a larger part of a progressive acceptance of gay culture however, it is not terrible. The extremes are the first ones who will say Gay Pride is not needed anymore… but the fact that people are starting to say it is, in itself, a sign of progress.

Silly Things Written on the Internet: 1 "Super Cute" Lesbian Wedding Idea

This entire post is written in response to this BuzzFeed article. As always, I mean no criticism to the author. Flo Perry is a creative woman who has written some cool and interesting things to read. I suggest you check out her work. That said, everyone writes things that can come off as… silly.

Weddings are incredible ordeals. They are a staggering show of commitment. Two individuals agree to share their lives together. More than that, they fulfill a contractual agreement stating that they will share their lives together. Damn, that idea is terrifyingly adult. With all that said, I feel that labeling any aspect of a wedding as ‘super cute’ is to use the complete set of wrong language. It would be on par with labeling a successful open-heart surgery as ‘fantastically adorable.’

Look at how precious their matching outfits are!
Look at how precious their matching outfits are!

All joking aside, that’s a nitpick. Weddings are beautiful occasions and words like cute, beautiful, adorable – these positive terms should be tossed around freely.

Now here is my one suggestion, the bizarre omission that I felt justified an article response.

1. Do Something that Embodies Your Relationship

A lot of these 23 suggestions have to do with celebrating being gay. To me, this makes as little sense as this following suggestion for interracial marriage: have half the aisle wear white and the other half wear black. I do not mean to undermine the enormous struggle that gays have gone/are still going through in beginning to achieve marital equality. It is a victory that is not yet complete in these United States.


To reduce a relationship to something as non-character oriented as sexuality strikes me as insulting. I would not like it if someone came up to me and offered this suggestion: “so is everyone on your side going to dress like a guy, and everyone on her side dress like a girl?”

I’m hammering in the point because I feel like it is a big one.

If both people involved are human rights’ activists then yes, by all means – have a wedding that celebrates the fantastic achievement that is gay marriage. To say that “you’re gay, I bet you love rainbow cake on your wedding!” is stereotyping.

Do something to celebrate your relationship, not your sexuality (unless of course, those two ideas do not conflict). If you’re Star Wars geeks – have a Star Wars themed wedding. If you met while scuba diving on shipwrecks – use that theme. Judging people as extensions of their sexuality is not a way to know them. It is a way to create laughable caricatures such as this:

I may be wrong on this issue. I may be downplaying the incredible solidarity and courage that the Gay Pride movement brings to people. If that is the case: I do apologize. This just struck me as a very bizarre article to write. Again, I do not mean to single out Flo Perry, I do not believe that she meant this to be insulting or anything negative at all. This article, to me, represents a greater problem when viewing people. Judge a person by the content of their character… not by their sexuality (or race, gender – anything of this nature). To do anything less appears kind of, well – silly.

Why would lesbians want roller-derby flower girls more than anyone else?
Why would lesbians want roller-derby flower girls more than anyone else?