The problem with ‘heterosexual pride’

A few days ago, a new hashtag on social media platforms began to gain attention. #HeterosexualPrideDay immediately caused a jump in controversy and the digital battles across the web began.

Although the hashtag started as a “joke” to offset the month of June being LGBTQ+ pride month, members of the LGBTQ+ community have taken offense to the hashtag. Heterosexuals don’t battle the fear and shame that their sexuality will be discovered. What started as a fleeting trend on twitter has now become a bigger controversy as members of the heterosexual community have embraced the gain in attention for straight people, and are now defending the trend. But for straight people to appropriate a platform such as Twitter to essentially undermine LGBTQ pride, is blatantly disrespectful.

Their argument lies on the basis of equality. Some heterosexual people believe they should be allowed to celebrate their lifestyle the same way gay people do. They’re allowed to celebrate whatever they want to; this is America. But to appropriate this platform, that a small section of our community is using to overcome their fear, is to denigrate what this vulnerable group is trying to do.

People of the LGBTQ+ community said it wasn’t funny, and it felt like a jab considering it happened right after their Pride month. For them to come out, to announce to a predominantly straight community that they are different, takes courage. While some argued it wasn’t a big deal, the gay community disagreed and said it was disrespectful and the idea behind it was inappropriate. LGBT Pride Month isn’t meant to just be “proud”, but it is to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village that sparked the modern LGBT liberation movement in the United States.

The hashtag was ignorant, inconsiderate and incredibly insulting to gay people, who have fought hard for acceptance in society. Pride month didn’t become a recognized celebration to praise people’s “gayness” but to celebrate existing without persecution due to their sexuality – something heterosexual have never had to deal with.

Simply put, heterosexuals are respected all over the world in ways LGBTQ+ people are not. It is illegal to be gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in many countries across the world. While some people believe there are bigger issues to conquer rather than focus on sexual discrimination, many are ignorant to the fact that there are over 70 countries that can still punish homosexuality, 10 of which are punishable by death. We had 49 of our LGBT brothers and sisters murdered last month. These innocent people were targeted simply because they were gay. I hope individuals that participated in this Twitter frenzy think about the fact that individuals are essentially coming out as targeted minorities.

A 2015 Gallup Study found that American’s believe over 20% of people they are surrounded by fall into the LGBTQ+ community. In reality less than 4% identify as LGBTQ, in contrast to the 96% of Americans identified as straight in a 2014 study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Those overwhelming numbers suggest that heterosexual people have no threat to their respect the way the LGBTQ+ community does.

It comes down to privilege. Privilege is constructed by dominant groups, which have the power to define what is considered “normal.” It is when one group has something of value that is denied to another individual simply because of the groups he or she belongs to. It becomes relatively easy for people with privilege to be unaware they have this privilege, having never dealt with discrimination based on sexual orientation. So it is easy to understand where some heterosexual people are coming from, but they are too blinded by their privilege to see they don’t need a Heterosexual Pride Day. They have it everyday. Unless you’ve lived with the dread of being exposed as lesbian, gay, etc, it’s easy to laugh off the suffering of these people with a Twiter hashtag. Remember, however, be thankful you don’t have a month to commemorate the challenges that come with a certain sexual identification, and be mindful of the individuals that do.

Sources:

“ALGBTICAL.” ALGBTICAL. Accessed July 1, 2016. http://www.algbtical.org/.

Hafner, Josh. “Why #HeterosexualPrideDay, Which Is Trending Worldwide, Misses the Point.” USA Today. June 29, 2016. Accessed July 1, 2016. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/06/29/why-heterosexualprideday-which-trending-worldwide-misses-point/86508430/.

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