As a gay man I have, on many occasions, been questioned about the need for gay pride celebrations. Many people have pointed out just how far the LGBTQ community has come, certainly in the Western world, and they’re right – things have changed for the better in a lot of ways. However, some groups of people seem intent on quietening the LGBTQ rights movement by trying to oppose inclusive laws, ban progressive teaching, and some even partake in a hate crime or two. Some people have even gone so far as to plan Straight Pride Parades, like the Boston based right-wing group Resist Marxism, which to some may seem fair – surely everyone can be proud of their sexuality? Yes, of course they can, but to many LGBTQ people (and other rational people) Straight Pride is a symbol of ignorance. Here’s why.
A Very Brief History of the First Pride by Gregory Lawrence aged 30
June 28th 1969: The NYPD raided New York’s Stonewall Inn to investigate a violation of liquor laws. 200 patrons were lined up and their identities questioned and examined, and some even anatomically examined. At this time it was illegal to be gay and raids of this kind were frequent in gay bars however on this occasion the LGBTQ community fought back; after years of oppression and abuse the community stood up for their human rights. This and the subsequent riots were known as The Stonewall Riots. One year later on the 28th June 1970 Boston and New York saw the first ever commemorative Pride march to remember the events at Stonewall. Pride marches still take place worldwide to commemorate The Stonewall Riots, but now also to celebrate progression, and to continue to challenge the ever present prejudice of the LGBTQ community.
Pride parades will continue until the LGBTQ community is treated fairly and equally worldwide. This has already worked tremendously. As of writing this, same sex marriage is now legal in 29 out of 195 countries worldwide, many countries, including Australia, New Zealand and The Netherlands now legally recognise a third non-binary gender, and Botswana have just, in June 2019, straight up decriminalized homosexuality as a result of the work of activists. But we still have far to go…
Did You Know? Chechnya in Russia have regular ‘gay purges’? That’s right, in 2017 Chechnya detained 100 gay men in concentration camps (yes, the very same) and this is still happening.
Did You Know? In Kenya gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Did You Know? In Pakistan it is deemed as un-Islamic to change gender and is prohibited.
Even in countries where it isn’t illegal to be LGBTQ there are still cases of horrific abuse to the community. The Human Rights Campaign keep an astonishing list of how many Transgender people are murdered in the USA each year. The USA; the land of the free and the home of the brave. Nobody on that list is free, and nobody who put them there are brave.
“Yes, I get that they probably do need Pride marches, but that’s there, not in the UK. We don’t need them anymore here, surely?”
In May 2019 a Lesbian couple who refused to kiss each other for the entertainment of 4 teenage boys were brutally attacked by the boys. They’ve even been sent abusive homophobic messages on social media by other members of the public. This happened in London; in the same country where people have protested the teaching of different types of relationships in school. The same country who didn’t recognise same-sex marriage until 2014. I wonder if those two girls would have been left well enough alone if the teenage boys who beat them up had had an inclusive education. The UK has work to do too.
We all know someone who is part of the LGBTQ community (whether you know it or not) and they’ll all have likely experienced prejudice at some point. This may not have been physical abuse or murder, however, ignorance can be verbal too. The following story is personal, but an example of how ignorant people can still be (I’ll set up the slides while you grab some popcorn).
Shortly before my 21st Birthday, I was at the “meet the parents” stage of a relationship with a boy who had very recently come out to his parents (I won’t talk too much about his experience with his parents as that is his story to tell). I travelled to their home, we went out for dinner and all was well; small talk was had, as was delicious Chinese food. I seemed to be getting on well with his folks and I felt comfortable.
Then we went home.
We sat down in the living room and his Father loaded his question gun. He asked me if I had had sex with his son and called me a paedophile (my boyfriend was 17 however the age of consent for homosexual males in the UK had been lowered to 16 in 2000 – ten years earlier). He accused me and my Father of running a paedophile grooming ring (he had never met my Father). He told me that he believed that I would next move on to his other, much younger, son. He told me he knew what to expect from me as he had been approached by a homosexual in a public toilet when he was young. He informed me that the relationship wouldn’t last long and that his son was merely experimenting. He told me his sister worked for children’s social services and one call to her would have me locked up for child abuse.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
I was mortified, embarassed and felt sick. He had not physically harmed me but his words had a physical affect on my body. He had, over dinner, insinuated that his friends would “beat someone up” or “throw them out of a window” if necessary; only now did I realise that these were threats. I thankfully never had to see him again, however he did not stop being vile to his son. As it turned out he built an armour for me and I used his metaphorical bullets to go on and challenge homophobia fully armed. Other people aren’t so lucky. In the end the joke was on his Father; the relationship lasted a further 5 years and his son is still very much gay.
The LGBTQ community still has Pride because they are still oppressed; the same reason we have Black History Month and Women’s History Month. The balance worldwide is still off. Essentially we are all just shouting “We’re here. We’re Queer. Get used to it!” at the bloke holding the rule book. Straight people, as a group, have never been oppressed so do not need to raise their voices or fight to be valid. If, in 500 years, society has become heterophobic, straight marriage becomes illegal, and boys and girls are murdered for holding hands then you can have your Straight Pride parades and I will march alongside you with my black and white flag in hand.
But for now, I guess I’ll leave the final thought to 90’s Californian rock band Smash Mouth.