There’s no way you can have a pride movement for a privileged identity. That literally doesn’t make sense.
Last week on Twitter, #HeterosexualPrideDay was trending, and I was cringing on the inside. Being the curious mind that I am, I wanted to see whether or not people were actually serious about this hashtag or whether it was just one big sarcastic joke.
People were indeed serious.
Even though the initial inspiration for this article surrounded #HeterosexualPrideDay, it made me think about the fact that we have two other similar hashtags and so-called movements in the same vain: #WhiteLivesMatter and #Meninism.
As a precursor: I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on every single issue and topic, but I will give you a breakdown on how I see and interpret these specific movements with their counterparts.
The Gay Pride movement encompasses taking a positive stance against the discrimination and violence towards those within the LGBTQ+ community, while also serving as a forum for those within this community to celebrate themselves and all their awesomeness. The biggest events of the year that celebrate this movement are, of course, the Pride parades that happen all across America and the world. Also, June is Pride Month as a way to celebrate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in NYC. Pride NYC happened just last Sunday and Pride parades had been happening across the country this past June, which, as I see it, is what sparked the #HeterosexualPrideDay movement on Twitter and then Facebook. This movement was created to supposedly celebrate straight people.
The #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement started in 2012 after George Zimmerman, the murderer of Trayvon Martin, was acquitted of his crime, and Trayvon’s legacy and short, 17-year old life was smeared by the media. This movement seeks to bring attention to the disproportionate killings of unarmed black people by police officers and security personnel. Once #BLACKLIVESMATTER began to gain tremendous traction and media news with protestors marching in the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore, Manhattan and many other places, #WhiteLivesMatter (and also #AllLivesMatter) became a thing in an attempt to promote the white race.
Feminism, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche so ***flawlessly puts it, is the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. Feminism was created to bring attention to and combat the inequalities and discrimination that women have been facing for centuries. Through feminism, many women (and men, too!) seeks to empower women and bring light to wage inequality and lack of gender diversity in high, usually cooperate, positions, as well as other social issues. Meninism was created because certain individuals felt that feminism was too far-reaching and that promoting women in the work place and in society actually ended up creating discrimination towards men.
Do you see a pattern here?
What all three original movements (Gay Pride, #BLACKLIVESMATTER, and Feminism) have in common is that the goal is to bring attention to the inequality and discrimination that those specific communities face as a whole. As they have evolved, they also seek to empower the specific communities because, historically, those within the LGBTQ+ community, the black community, and women have been told that they are “less than” in comparison to straight people, white people, and men, respectively.
No, I am not saying that straight people, white people, and men should hate themselves.
I’m not saying that at all.
What we have to realize is that the #HeterosexualPrideDay, #WhiteLivesMatter, and Meninism were all created as reactionary movements. They were created by people who do not understand or want to understand one simple fact: a privileged identity cannot have a pride/empowerment movement because the purpose of a pride/empowerment movement is to bring light to the inequality, violence, and discrimination towards a certain group and also empower that group because those who are told that they are “less than” deserve empowerment. And this stream of logic all goes for other movements that seek to empower those who have historically been subconsciously told that they are not good enough, such as #BlackGirlMagic, #LikeAGirl, festivals celebrating different Latin American cultures, parades for various Asian heritages, etc.
To put it simply:
- Straight people do not need a pride movement because we have always had the upper hand. There was never a time where straight people were denied the right of marriage, could possibly lose their job over their sexual orientation, were targeted and killed for their sexual orientation, or made to feel as if their straight-ness was wrong. Straight people aren’t harassed on the street and called derogatory names because of their perceived sexual orientation.
- White people do not need a hashtag to remind others that they are important and deserve to live because that was already given based on our country’s history. When an unarmed white person is killed by police (in the very rare instances that this happens), their killer will most likely go to prison. When an unarmed white person is seen as a threat to police, it is more likely that they will be safely subdued without the use of a gun than shot and killed, whereas this is a common occurrence in police interactions with unarmed black people. White people do not get profiled by police officers, randomly pulled over, and searched. White children are not given “the talk” by their white parents about what not to do and how to act when approached by police offices in order to not be killed unnecessarily.
- Men, on a social, economic, and political level are not more disadvantaged than women. Men always had the right to vote before women (and I will note that all men did not have the right to vote at the same time, but white men could vote before white women, black men could vote before black women, and etc.). No one will ever think that a man being president is a bad idea simply because “men are emotional” and “can’t do a woman’s job.” Men, in most instances, do not need to fear bodily harm when walking alone (or even in groups) at any time during the day (and there are exceptions to this if one is perceived to be part of the LGBTQ+ community). Catcalling men is not a phenomenon that exist. Rape culture does not paint male survivors and victims as the perpetrators or the reasons that their sexual assault happened instead of their rapists. The phrase “you ____ like a boy” is never used as an insult because being a man or exemplifying masculinity is seen as a negative thing and would make a person inferior.
Just because one movement highlights and seeks to empower a certain group of people or community does not mean that they are saying everyone outside of that community is irrelevant.
What it means is that there is a need for empowerment and solidarity. Having a pride, empowerment, or solidarity movement is needed for those of a marginalized identity.
Some may say that having a Gay Pride movement and not a Heterosexual Pride Movement is unfair and not equality. I challenge that logic. Equality means treating everyone the same. America is so far gone from this because we are so messed up. Treating everyone the same won’t work right now.
What this country needs is equity and then equality.
Equity is where you give everyone what they need, and that’s how you create an even playing field. This fills in the gap where equality does not. How can we truly expect everyone to succeed if given the exact same situations when, historically, there are marginalized groups that have been starved of resources and support for so long? The best way I can explain it is to provide the picture below that explained it to me many months ago.
So, yes, you can have pride in being who you are if you are straight, white, and/or a man, but you do not need to create or participate in a movement that claims to celebrate you or empower you because it’s just not needed. Also, it’s a huge slap in the face to those communities who have struggled for the very acceptance and perks of privilege that you were born into and profit from everyday.
If you are still not getting it, answer me this: If there were no Pride movement, no #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement, or no feminism movement, would you even see a need for a Heterosexual Pride Day, #WhiteLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter, or meninism?
Don’t think too hard because the answer is no.
What privileged groups have to realize is that marginalized groups celebrating themselves usually comes from decades and centuries of oppression from the privileged group. Whether or not you were alive during the start of this oppression honestly does not matter because the after-effects of that oppression still linger and haunt those of these marginalized groups. It is nothing to feel guilty about. It just means that privileged groups can’t always have everything and be part of everything. It means taking a step back. It also means being an ally and realizing that you can turn that guilt feeling into standing in solidarity with those of an oppressed group.
And if you’re really still not getting it, take a gander at this: If Sally doesn’t get fed at home, and she gets two apples while you only get one, it doesn’t mean that Sally is more important than you; Sally just needs more than you to get through the day. Makes sense, right? You wouldn’t be mad at Sally since you know the circumstances. Now substitute Sally for marginalized identities, getting fed for having rights, home for America, you for the privileged majority, apples for support, and day for life. You might start to feel some type of way and think “but, that’s not fair!” but the logic still holds even though the circumstances are different.
Equality won’t truly exist in this country until we understand that equity is needed first, and that reactionary movements like #HeterosexualPrideDay, #WhiteLivesMatter (and #AllLivesMatter), and #Meninism truly do not need to exist.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!