Lesbian

Let’s Get One Thing Straight: Why “Heterosexual Pride” Marches Don’t Happen

This weekend, thousands rejoiced and celebrated gay pride events held in the cosmopolitan cities of London and New York. LGBT pride events as they’re perhaps more appropriately named take place across many cities every year, and in turn they produce the painfully offensive and irritating question from many; “why isn’t there a ‘straight pride’?”

On the surface, it almost seems an equitable question. We have gay or LGBT pride movements so why not a heterosexual one? After all, those movements’ sole aim is to establish equality for all regardless of sexual orientation. But when you spend more than half a second considering why no such events take place it becomes glaringly obvious why the question itself is just a little bit stupid.

Quite simply put, there isn’t ‘straight pride’ because nobody has ever tried to quash the mass pride of heterosexuals. The LGBT community has suffered and still suffers discrimination and persecution from all walks of life for the sole reason of being a part of that community.A straight female holding hands with her partner as she walks down the street would be unlikely to draw any attention. A lesbian woman doing the same with her girlfriend is far more likely to be met with negativity or abuse. Heterosexuality is outlawed in a total of zero countries, homosexuality is still illegal in 81. And even now is punishable by death in seven of them.

Death.

People are still legally killed for being gay in 2014.

Shameful… The countries in red show where homosexuality is a crime.

Of course, things aren’t as barbaric and oppressive here. In most parts of the UK and indeed many parts of the US, homosexuality is legal and the right to change legal gender is allowed too, but these changes only came in to place as recently as 30 years ago, and same-sex marriage was only approbated last year. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that homophobia is a myth in the Western world. Let’s not forget that two of the three highest polling political parties in the UK possess a significant proportion of members who still oppose the strive for sexual orientation equality.

LGBT youth are still prone to discrimination in the UK, some will be ostracised by their friends and family for the simple crime of being who they are; the same can thankfully not be said for straight people. This year, a BBC Newsbeat survey found that 42% of LGBT though have sought help for depression and anxiety and 52% have reported self-harm at some point in their lives, considerably higher rates than found in heterosexual youths. Stonewall found that in 2012, 55% of LGBT workers experienced bullying in the workplace and 99% ceaselessly heard homophobic phrases. In fact, in the last week alone, nohomophobes.com have tallied 290,754 tweets referencing such homophobic phrases as ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ – this is just on Twitter, just of English speakers and just one week’s worth of data.

Still wondering when ‘straight pride’ day is? It’s every day. It’s being able to kiss your partner in public without fear of being heckled, segregated or vilified. What would a ‘straight pride’ event even consist of? Shared memories of that time when everyone of the like was free to love who they wanted? Or maybe a fond reflection on the hard-work heterosexuals have put in to win the basic rights they were never traditionally afforded? Maybe, it’s that ‘pride’ is the wrong word – or perhaps the concept itself is misinterpreted. LGBT pride is not about boasting about sexuality, it’s not about showing off or self worship. It is to commemorate the progress made towards triumphing over the legal and societal oppression of the minority, a time to celebrate and feel safe in an all-encompassing environment (including heterosexuals) to be your whole self, for just one or two days a year.

It doesn’t make you homophobic to have ever wondered why ‘straight pride’ doesn’t exist. But when you look at why LGBT pride events are held and indeed needed, it should answer the question. It’s not about revoking the equal right of straight people to celebrate their sexuality. In truth, heterosexuals should be thankful that ‘straight pride’ isn’t required. After all, LGBT pride events are not state-run initiatives, so if you still think an event to bask in the adversity-free existence of the majority as some oddly coveted equivalent to the celebration of a minority’s push for victory over injustice should occur, then organise it yourself.

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That’s so Hateful

Target… Raven Symone’s sexuality has been blamed for ‘ruining people’s childhood’.

Although rumours of her sexuality had been circulating the web for the better part of a year, former Disney star, Raven Symoné publicly acknowledged her orientation on Twitter a few days ago. The reactions proved that homophobia is still rife in society, despite the march towards marriage equality in much of the Western world.

Other than dying or having a baby, there is nothing more provocative a celebrity can do than come out of the closet. Time and time again, the public and the media have worked up a storm over the sexuality of the likes of Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga, Zachary Quinto etc. Although, nobody is at all perturbed by a confession of bisexuality as every female pop star will tell you; it’s the must-have edge to a star’s persona. Regardless, this confession in a supposedly tolerant society shouldn’t cause a stir – more a passing acknowledgement and then let’s get on with our lives. Having said that, a media frenzy is a much more welcome reaction than the one Raven Symoné received. An account called ‘Childhood Ruined’ that tweets sinister observations of popular crazes from people’s childhood tweeted the news as if it had somehow tainted her hit comedy show, ‘That’s So Raven’. Frighteningly, people latched on to the tweet to agree with its sentiment. Even celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris, perhaps most famous for playing womaniser, Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother who has been ‘out’ for years is still targeted with (hopefully) inadvertent homophobic comments.

We can see the prominence of homophobia in sports such as football where homosexuality is fair game for a cheap ‘banterous’ dig at the opposition, meaning that discriminatory insults are likely to lurk in the minds of kids for generations to come. Also, recently there has been a rise in ‘homophobic’ terms seen on social networking sites with remarks like ‘faggot’, ‘no homo’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ becoming increasingly popular social vernacular. Although, usually non-intended with any malice, these words can affect the confidence of young LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender) people wondering whether they are in a safe environment to be who they are, a potentially permanent effect on their self esteem. One site (NoHomophobes.com) has collated all of the tweets with the previously mentioned terms in since July 5th 2012. Astonishingly, today alone, there have been (as of 5:17pm BST); 34,311 tweets mentioning ‘faggot’, 8,354 ‘no homo’ tweets, 8,275 ‘so gay’ posts and 2,735 utterances of ‘dyke’. Remember, this is just tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, ask.fm questions and Tumblr posts are not included in those scarily high numbers. Statistics show that 64% of LGBT students feel unsafe at school, which is no surprise given the popularity of homophobic slurs in modern slang. It’s tough enough to come out as gay when you’re pretty sure you’ll be accepted but the uses of such language will only make youths doubt their comfort in themselves. Harmful lies about gay stereotypes are also stacked against many people today. The view that gay men are always effeminate lead to the ‘no homo’ catchphrase, only enforcing the idea that a gay youth being themselves will change people’s perception of them.

Rising... The use of homophobic slang is on the rise.

Rising… The use of homophobic slang is on the rise.

I obviously realise that a lot of the uses of homophobic slang is not meant in a derogatory way but the words will have an affect on others and society in the long run. Pretty much every person has had a critical joke made about them and wondered if there was any sincerity behind it, this is exactly the same. Don’t alienate people – think before you speak.