Good people do not have to stand mute in the presence of bigotry, Greg Camp writes.

First published in September 2019.

As an act of gross effrontery, an organization that calls itself Super Happy Fun America held a straight pride parade in Boston on the 31 August. SHFA president, John Hugo, claims that “straight people are an oppressed majority” who will one day “be included as equals among all of the other orientations.”

Professional troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, was the grand marshal in what I take to be an effort to claim that the event was not anti-gay, and one of the floats was provided by Trump Unity Bridge, a group that promotes building a wall on the southern U.S. border and locking up Hillary Clinton. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a characteristically sharp comment on the proceedings, suggesting that they were more of an “I-Struggle-With-Masculinity” parade, given the lack of women who participated.

The response of many right wingers on social media was to inquire why a straight pride parade is wrong, when the political left has accepted gay pride events as routine. This is the same argument made by white supremacists who see no reason that they should be shunned for expressing pride in their race, and indeed, there was a significant measure of overlap in these two attitudes at the Boston parade. For readers here, it will likely be obvious what is wrong with this thinking, but as a friend of mine would often tell me, even the choir needs to hear a good sermon from time to time. We progressives do need to be able to explain the bases of our positions, and I would like to believe that there are at least some people out there who can be persuaded to re-evaluate stances that they had not given much thought to.

Gay Pride was a response to the police raid on the Stonewall Inn and subsequent protests over unequal treatment by law enforcement and regulatory agencies. This has become a nationwide celebration precisely because discrimination against GSRM (gender, sexual, and romantic minority) Americans is not a thing of the past. The necessity of the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of marriage equality is only a headline example of continual violations of the rights of people whose personal identity or consensual relationships do not conform with the majority.

GSRM Americans are, of course, not alone in facing official and social abuse. The Black Lives Matter movement has been presented the same types of questions of false equivalency. If black lives are important, are not white lives, too? Can we not have a white pride gathering, especially when statues honoring racism are being removed from public spaces? And why are the protesters not kneeling on the streets of Chicago to stop gang violence?

What is going on here, at the least, is an attempt to change the subject. The idea that our laws and social mores violate the rights of minorities who are not doing anything wrong is disquieting, and many in the majority prefer to dismiss any realization that things are not as they ought to be. And then there are the trolls whose purpose is to shut down essential conversations.

Just as with Trump’s reality TV approach to the presidency, organizations like Super Happy Fun America hope to flood the national discussion about our basic values with absurdities and outrages. Saying that straight people are an oppressed majority is the kind of statement that rational people will immediately regard as silly, but explaining why this is requires us to suspend our disgust and think through the reasoning. An oppressed majority is on the face of it an oxymoron, though I will suggest that majorities can oppress themselves through enforced compliance.

Claiming that heterosexual Americans are oppressed can only be done in ignorance, willful or otherwise. And yes, I include county clerks in Kentucky in this, since being told to do one’s job is not oppression. In the time that it takes me to explain the flaws in their thinking, the trolls move on to a new exclamation of drivel, however, and the Gish Gallop — or shall I say, the Pepe Hop — plods onward.

The reality is that while there are many wrongs that are yet to be corrected — and yes, whites, men, straights, and so forth are not automatically free from having suffered abuses — a gay pride parade addresses one specific set of violations that need to be made right. It is not just about being proud to be homosexual. To say that straights should be allowed to express pride for their orientation is to miss the point. Straight pride parades are not countering any wrongs done to heterosexual people. They are, in fact, an attempt to perpetrate further wrongs against minorities who have experienced genuine oppression.

As I said above, regular readers here likely do not need to be told anything that I have said in this article. And I agree with Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, that groups cannot be denied permission to hold a parade on the basis of their beliefs. But good people do not have to stand mute in the presence of bigotry. The counterprotesters in Boston are an example of this, having exercised their own rights of speech and assembly to appear in much larger numbers as a declaration that decency and equality are going to win. This victory will only happen, however, if we speak out again and again, no matter how tedious that can be.🔷

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[This is an original piece, first published by the author in on 11 September 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Gif of the Straight Parade in Boston.)