June — it’s the time of year when queer boys and girls and everyone in between and outside the gender binary bring out their best mesh tops and biggest rainbow flags in celebration of Gay Pride Month, which memorializes the violent demonstrations against police harassment of LGBTQ people known as the Stonewall Riots, recognized as the pivotal moment of the Gay Liberation Movement. It’s also the time when pockets of straight cisgender folks inevitably whine and bellyache about there being no Straight Pride Month. Some of them actually feel so distraught about being left out of the glitter-filled festivities that they organize their own, poorly attended (but much more clothed) straight pride events. Seeing as there isn’t a plethora of other opportunities for queer and trans people to express themselves proudly, most of the rest of us greet these poor souls with a collective side-eye for finding yet another opportunity to steal the spotlight from non-hetero, non-gender conforming people, and use their straight tears to fill our douches.
Not me. I find there is far too much salt in straight tears for a proper douching and I completely understand their need to take pride in their history. Cisgender straight people have made more than a few impressive achievements that deserve recognition. Here are 10:
- Preventing Employment Discrimination Protection Laws.
Did you know it’s perfectly legal to fire someone for being queer or trans in most of the country? Well it is! Only 21 states and DC have passed laws preventing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and only 18 and DC have laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. By contrast, there is a grand total of 0 states that allow discrimination based on anti-queer religious beliefs, so that’s kind of a blowout for straight people.
- Keeping Queer and Trans People Out of Positions of Power.
A whopping 1% of congress identify as LGBTQ. That means straight people have been 99% successful at controlling the legislative branch of the government in the last few elections alone. That’s a pretty high success rate. In addition, there has never been an openly queer or trans President. Those are some unmatched government control skills!
- Committing Violence Against LGBT People – Especially the T.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, LGBT people are 2.4 times more likely to suffer a violent hate crime attack than Jews, 2.6 times more likely to be attacked than black people, 4.4 times more likely than Muslims and 13.8 times more likely than Latinos (although, of course, some queer and trans people are Jewish, black, Muslim and/or Latino!). In addition, trans people are murdered at a rate almost 50% higher than cisgender queer people. Many of these murders are born out of gay or trans panic, which is described as a perpetrator’s “claims that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity not only explain – but excuse – their loss of self-control and subsequent assault of an LGBT individual.” That’s spectacular “blame the victim” expertise. Kudos!
- Abandoning Their Queer and Trans Children.
According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, between 20 and 40% of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. That number far outweighs their estimated share of the population (5 to 10%). Most of this can be attributed to family rejection. Even Maury would be hard-pressed to come up with dads who are as happy to not be the father as many straight parents are of their queer and trans children. You go, straight parents!
- Owning Hollywood.
While queer and trans representation on television is increasing (though the quality of said representation is up for debate), major movie studios have both underrepresented and misrepresented LGBT people in film. A GLAAD study last year found that “of the 102 releases from 7 major studios, only 17 included characters that identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual—adding that a majority of these characters were minor roles or cameos, and that many representations were ‘outright defamatory.’” So much for Hollywood’s gay agenda, but a cookie is definitely deserved for making up that myth and running with it.
- Banning Queer and Trans Folks from the Alter.
A little over ¼ of the states in this country still have a gay marriage ban. This is a battle queer people have been winning in recent years, so I don’t know how proud straight folks should be of it, but this country was established for over 300 years before the first state legalized gay marriage, so that’s probably still a “W” in their column. In comparison, queer people have never banned straight people from doing anything, to my knowledge.
- Subjecting Queer and Trans People To Dangerous Conversion Therapies.
With the widespread acceptance of the idea that homosexuality was a mental disorder, straight people turned to propagating cures like “electroshock therapy, masturbatory reconditioning, and giving patients nausea-inducing drugs while forcing them to view homosexual erotica.” Even our greatest heroes weren’t exempt, with Alan Turig, who deciphered an impossible Nazi code in WWII, being forced to undergo chemical castration when convicted of being gay. None of these have been proven to work, but “A” for effort!
- Bullying Children for Their Sexuality and Gender Identity.
LGBT children are 61.1% more likely than their straight and cisgender counterparts to feel unsafe or uncomfortable as a result of their sexual orientation. They are also more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide. That’s an impressive discrepancy!
- Taking From LGBT Culture Without Acknowledging It.
Some of our greatest historical accomplishments were made with the help of LGBT people, yet you’ll hardly hear about the work of the likes of Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk. If you do hear about queer and trans historical figures, much of the time their sexuality is glossed over (i.e. Bessie Smith, Langston Hughes). If I need a new eraser, I know to ask a straight guy. They seem pretty adept at erasure!
- Their Identity.
I can hear you now, straight heterosexual person, recognizing my snark and becoming all indignant with your, “but why can’t I just be proud of my identity?!” You most certainly can! The issue is in discerning which parts of your identity you are proud of and why. If you come from a slave-owning family, should you be proud of that too? It’s part of your identity. I’m cisgender and that’s part of my identity. I’m not proud of the history of cisgender people. Collectively, we have oppressed and abused trans people and as a community we continue to do so. I am proud that as a cisgender person, I am on a journey to correct those ills, and I am proud of all the other cisgender people who are on this journey with me. But when a trans person is asserting pride in their survival, I’m not going to derail their moment to force attention on my pride in a community that has traditionally oppressed them. This also doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of the other aspects of my identity that subject me to oppression. I am proud of surviving as a queer Black person. Just being Black and queer is an accomplishment. My cisgenderness, my being disability-free, my Americanness — those do not inherently come packaged with the need to overcome obstacles in the way that being a part of an oppressed community does.
But if you insist on celebrating straight pride, as you can see, there is much to salute. These are feats that would give white people a run for their money (don’t worry, white folks, I support white history month too!). So while us queer and trans people celebrate the history of surviving an undeniably anti-queer and anti-trans system, of course you should celebrate all the things that straight cisgender people have accomplished by virtue of their straight and cisgender identities alone, rather than joining in celebrating your queer and trans brothers and sisters, because what’s life without putting you on a pedestal? Here’s to you! I’ll even help you build a float. It’ll have Blake Brockington’s face on it, because man, oh man, stripping someone of their will to live is masterful. Happy Straight Pride!