Straight pride is a slogan that arose in the late 1980s and early 1990s and has been used primarily by social conservative groups as a political stance and strategy. The term is described as a response to gay pride adopted by various LGBT groups in the early 1970s or to the accommodations provided to gay pride initiatives.
Straight pride backlash incidents have generated controversy and media attention. School policies and court decisions regarding freedom of expression have drawn particular attention, spotlighting individuals protesting school expressions against harassment of LGBT adolescents.
Straight pride as an appeal to ridicule
The concept of LGBT pride originates as a movement which seeks to challenge the negative images of LGBT people to be openly identified with a culturally stigmatized group; as such, it creates a discomfort.
In this context, the terms straight pride and heterosexual pride exist as an argument criticizing gay pride as unnecessary, stating by contrast with heterosexuality that heterosexuals "don't talk about straight pride", don't have "straight pride rallies", and would be seen as ridiculous if they were to "band together and have a heterosexual pride [...] parade".
This appeal to ridicule argument expresses the idea that showing pride for a homosexual orientation is equally absurd. Analysts of LGBT rights state as a counter-argument that mainstream culture offers many approved social venues (weddings, baptism, family reunions...) for heterosexuals to express and celebrate their sexual orientation in public, while homosexuals usually feel isolated and pride parades offer them support and an opportunity for socializing.
Straight pride events
Incidents where the slogan or concept of "Straight pride" caused controversy have occurred since the late 1980s. In 1988, for example, Vermont Republican John Burger asked the state's Governor to establish a "Straight Pride Day". In 1990, rallies in support of Straight Pride were held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (organized by the group Young Americans for Freedom) and nearby Mount Holyoke College. In 1991, conservative organizations at University of Massachusetts Amherst organized a "Straight Pride" rally attended by about 50 people and protested by a crowd estimated to be ten times larger.
Events which draw media attention are "Straight pride parades" or "Straight Pride days", often organized in response to similar events organized by gay groups. Other events, typically occurring in United States high schools where First Amendment concerns arise, have revolved around people desiring to wear "Straight Pride" t-shirts.
At a 2010 Tea Party Express rally in Lansing, the state capital of Michigan, a vendor was selling T-shirts printed with the slogan "Straight Pride". Some state and national gay advocacy groups denounced the shirts, claiming that they echoed the use by racist groups of a "white pride" slogan. Some of the opposition arose from reports that the shirt seller was a sponsor of the event with a cut of sales funding the Tea Party Express, although those reports may not have been accurate.
Support for straight pride events is often based on religious objections to homosexuality. Groups such as the White Aryan Resistance and Ku Klux Klan have also tried to oppose "gay pride" by stressing straight pride.
- Yellowknife, Canada (2005): In May 2005, the northern Canadian city of Yellowknife announced that it would mark both a gay and straight pride day. After the mayor proclaimed June 10, 2005 as Gay Pride Day, Councillor Alan Woytuik proposed that there be a Heterosexual Day. The mayor agreed and set it for June 9. Woytuik defended the proposal for Heterosexual Day by stating that "recognizing the contributions of heterosexuals is just as legitimate as recognizing the contributions of gay and lesbian communities." The group seeking the Gay Pride Day designation was dismayed, asking if Black History Month would be partnered with White Heritage Month and whether days marking heart disease and strokes should be paired with days celebrating good health Woytuik's request for Heterosexual Day was widely reported on. Shocked by the attention, he withdrew his request for the proclamation and apologized. He referred to his request as a simple one seeking to treat everyone the same which was blown out of proportion. The city subsequently rescinded its proclamation of Heterosexual Day.
- Budapest, Hungary (2010): In 2010, a heterosexual pride march was held in Budapest. Following the route of an earlier gay pride parade, one hundred people participated including two politicians. The march's stated goal was to prevent future use of public spaces by homosexuals for gatherings.
- São Paulo, Brazil (2011): In August, 2011, the city council of São Paulo, Brazil, the largest city in South America and site of the annual São Paulo Gay Pride Parade, largest in the world, voted to designate the third Sunday in December as Heterosexual Pride Day ("Dia do orgulho hétero" in Portuguese). Debate in Brazil was intense over the controversy. Evangelical supporter Carlos Apolinário, that previously tried to ban São Paulo Gay Pride Parade, told reporters that his idea "not anti-gay, but a protest against the privileges the gay community enjoys." The Brazilian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Association criticized this claim, arguing "it could provoke homophobic violence."
- Helsinki, Finland (2011) : Contrary to most straight prides, the Helsinki gay pride march organizers themselves arranged a group called "Ylpeät Heterot" ("Proud Heterosexuals") as a part of the gay pride march for those heterosexuals who want to show their support for the march.
High school shirt incidents
In 2001, Woodbury High School in St. Paul, Minnesota created homophobia-free areas called "safe zones" designated by an inverted pink triangle and intended for LGBT students. Student Elliot Chambers reacted by wearing a makeshift sweatshirt with the slogan "Straight Pride" and the image of male and female stick figures holding hands. In light of previous anti-LGBT incidents, the school's principal ordered Chambers to remove the shirt, and a court case ensued. A court upheld Chambers' complaint that his First Amendment rights had been violated, and that the principal's decision was unjustified. Although praising the principal's intentions, the judge explained that views of both sides of the debate should be allowed and that such issues should be resolved within the school's community, not within the court system. Under the Tinker case, the court stated that the substantial disruptions claimed by the school must be shown to have some connection to Chambers' sweatshirt message of "Straight Pride".
In 2010, in response to local suicides amongst LGBT adolescents, an Ally Week was held at St. Charles North High School in St. Charles, Illinois. On the first day of this Ally Week, though, three students arrived wearing "Straight Pride" t-shirts. The back of these t-shirts displayed "Leviticus 20:13", the verse stating that those who perform homosexual acts should be put to death. While the school did not force the students to remove their t-shirts, it did persuade them to remove the bible quotation. The following day two different students arrived wearing "Straight Pride" t-shirts minus the bible quotations and were consequently asked to remove their shirts. In an opinion piece on the St. Charles incident, Eric Zorn (a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune) opined that "the expression 'Straight Pride' can only be read as a gratuitous and contemptuous response to the suggestion that gay people not be marginalized."
Balancing freedom of expression vs. protection of students
In school environments, straight pride expressions and events have been reviewed within a framework of balancing freedom of expression with protection of other students. In some situations, schools take actions against students who are open about or encourage hiding homosexuality, or limit clothing that has references to sexual orientation. Such may prompt lawsuits. In the Minnesota Chambers v. Babbitt case, "The court noted that maintaining a school community of tolerance includes tolerance of such viewpoints as expressed by 'Straight Pride' as well as tolerance of homosexuality." Conversely, it is advocated that students (including openly gay students) who are valued and respected are "more likely to learn and achieve than students who are not", requiring a balance in the school's approach to straight pride expressions.
- LGBT rights opposition
- Gay Shame, a reaction against the mercantilism and depoliticization of gay pride
- "Making colleges and universities safe for gay and lesbian students: Report and recommendations of the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth". Massachusetts. Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth., p.20. "A relatively recent tactic used in the backlash opposing les/bi/gay/trans campus visibility is the so-called "heterosexual pride" strategy".
- Eliason, Michele; Schope, Robert (2007). "Shifting Sands or Solid Foundation? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Identity Formation". The Health of Sexual Minorities 1: 3–26. doi:10.1007/97803873133441. "Not surprisingly, individuals in the pride stage are most criticized not only by heterosexual persons but also many LGBT individuals, who are uncomfortable forcing the majority to share the discomfort. Heterosexual individuals may express bewilderment at the term “gay pride,” arguing that they do not talk about “straight pride”".
- Eliason, Michele. Who cares?: institutional barriers to health care for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons, p.55 (1996)
- Zorn, Eric (November 14, 2010). "When pride turns shameful". Chicago Tribune.
- Ayres, Ian; Brown, Jennifer Gerarda (2005). Straightforward: how to mobilize heterosexual support for gay rights (Google eBook). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 41–43. ISBN 0-691-12134-6.
- Fuller, James (11 November 2010). "‘Straight Pride' shirts become free speech fight at St. Charles North". Daily Herald. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- "Kameny, Frank". http://glbtq.com. "Kameny [...] coined the slogan 'Gay is Good'."
- Howard P. Kainz. Politically Incorrect Dialogues: Topics Not Discussed in Polite Circles., p.39. One of the two fictional philosophers in the dialogs states: "If, for example, heterosexuals were to band together and have a 'heterosexual pride' (or '"straight" pride') parade, it would be recognized immediately as dumb and ridiculous."
- (30 July 1988). Vermont, USA Today ("John Burger of state Republican Assembly wants Gov. Kunin to designate Nov. 8 "Straight Pride Day" ")
- (6 May 1990). Rallies Opposing Gay Students Disrupt Campuses, The New York Times
- "Campus Life: Massachusetts; Angry Gay Groups Drown Out Rally By Conservatives". The New York Times. 10 March 1991. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- (8 July 1999). London hosts straight and gay pride parades, Kitchener Record ("The city's gay pride parade on Sunday has a rival -- a straight pride parade organized at the same time and on practically the same route.")
- (17 June 2002). Oakland Today - Marchers take part in straight pride parade, Detroit Free Press ("About 100 people marched through downtown Ferndale on Sunday morning in a Straight Pride Parade")
- MTI (2010-09-06). "Anti-gay parade held in Budapest". caboodle.hu. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
- "Yellowknife to mark gay and straight pride". CBCnews Canada. May 25, 2005. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- Ring, Trudy (August 4, 2011). "Brazilian City Seeks Heterosexual Pride Day". The Advocate. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
- (17 October 1997). Straight Pride Day fails at ETSU campus, The Oak Ridger
- (2 June 1992). Gay topics go public, USA Today ("On college campuses, where gay student groups are no longer unusual, "you see increased incidences of straight pride rallies in retaliation against gay pride" .")
- (3 October 2004). They Dress To Express, Newsweek
- Case Mary Anne. A Lot to Ask: Review Essay of Martha Nussbaum's from Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law, 19 Colum. J. Gender & L. 89, 118 (2010) (discussing "T-shirt wars" that "condemn and denigrate other students on the basis of their sexual orientation)
- Fenton, Ben (18 January 2002). "Student wins right to show 'straight pride'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- (8 September 2003). Telling it (too much) like it is, Fort Morgan Times
- (8 June 1998). Gay pride display removed, Lodi News Sentinel (Associated Press story)
- Saunders, Kevin W. Degradation: What the History of Obscenity Tells Us About Hate Speech, p. 187-88 (2011)
- Heywood, Todd A. (April 12, 2010). "'Straight pride' shirts at Tea Party rally draw fire". The Michigan Messenger (The American Independent (online) News Network). Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- Lepore, Jill (2010). The whites of their eyes: the Tea Party's revolution and the battle over American history. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press. pp. 126–127. ISBN 978-0-691-15027-7.
- (6 September 2009). What does one wear to a straight pride parade?, Duluth News Tribune
- Blazak, Randy (2001). "White boys to terrorist men: Target recruitment of Nazi Skinheads". American Behavioral Scientist 44 (6): 993. doi:10.1177/00027640121956629. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
- http://www.dailyutahchronicle.com/uncategorized/straight-pride-fliers-posted-anonymously/ Straight Pride’ Fliers Posted Anonymously Utah Daily Chronicle October 22, 2002 (Straight pride fliers posted, and removed, at the University of Utah in 2002)
- "'Shocked' councillor withdraws Straight Pride motion". CBC News North. May 30, 2005. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/straight-pride-suggested-as-brazils-gay-pride-parade-kicks-off/2011/06/22/AGgy1JgH_blog.html "Straight Pride" as Brazil's gay pride parade kicks off By Elizabeth Flock Washington Post June 22, 2011
- Ring, Trudy. "Brazilian City Seeks Heterosexual Pride Day | World News". The Advocate. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- Levesque, Brody (August 4, 2011). "Sao Paulo lawmaker calls for ‘straight pride’ to counter ‘privileged’ gay celebration". LGBTQ Nation.
- Biegel, Stuart (2010). The right to be out: sexual orientation and gender identity in America's public schools. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-8166-7457-2.
- "Chambers v. Babbitt, 145 F. Supp. 2d 1068 (District of Minn. 2001)". First Amendment Schools: Speech. First Amendment Center. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- >http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/11/12/chicago-high-school-uses-straight-pride-shirts-rights-education/ Chicago High School Uses 'Straight Pride' Shirts for Rights Education By Joseph Bland Fox News November 12, 2010
- http://www.iog.unc.edu/pubs/electronicversions/pg/pgspsm06/article2.pdf Schools’ Legal Obligations to Gay Students by Laurie L. Mesibov Popular Government Spring/Summer 2006
- "Chambers v. Babbit, 145 F.Supp.2d 1068 (2001)". LEAGLE, Debate, cases, regulations, statutes and more... United States District Court, D. Minnesota. May 17, 2001. Retrieved 2012-04-07.