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Onlookers watch the 2012 Pride Parade
Crowd at Chicago’s Pride Parade, 2012.
Neil Steinberg/Chicago Sun-Times

Take up the straight man’s burden

Plans for a “Straight Pride” in Boston offers a reminder: bigots always feel themselves the true victims

I thought it was a joke.

A meme, some online wit.

That’s how news often enters our awareness. As flashes on the horizon, something crouching at the corner of our field of vision. A hoax from the Onion perhaps?

On the fourth or fifth glimpse: fine, a “Straight Pride Parade,” ha-ha, let’s take a look.

Oh.

It’s real.

Sorta.

A group in Boston has applied for a permit to hold a Straight Pride parade on Aug. 31. To push back against Pride parades and Pride Month, which seems a bigger deal this year, perhaps because of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

Just a permit. Not quite the Parade of Roses, yet. But the internet is nothing if not a hothouse for every cracked notion that manages to poke out of the earth, warmed by concentrated attention and nourished by the scattered like-minded.

Why a Straight Pride Parade? A slap at Gay Pride, at all the underlings and those who support them by suggesting oppressed groups still exist.

“For them, everything is based upon identity and whether or not one is categorized as a victim or an oppressor,” Straight Pride organizer Mark Sahady wrote on Facebook. “If you get victim status, then you are entitled to celebrate yourself and expect those with oppressor status to defer to your feelings.”

There is a fragment of truth here — Democrats are big on identity politics, and that is a two-edged sword. We can celebrate uniqueness so much we forget the need to come together about anything.

The solution is to find commonalities that include everybody. Someone who sincerely felt the unifying impulse parodied by Straight Priders would put their energies into stopping Donald Trump from commandeering our nation’s Fourth of July celebration and turning it into a celebration of himself. The 4th of July is, or was, exactly the kind of event that most Americans could get behind.

Or heck, just attend your local Pride Parade. Bigotry is a noxious blend of fear and ignorance, and you can tell Straight Priders have never been to an actual Pride Parade, because if they had, they’d know these are inclusive, family-friendly events. Provided of course that you and your family don’t dissolve into a pool of self-pity at the sight of gay people.

I used to live with my new family at Pine Grove and Oakdale, one block off the Chicago Pride Parade route. We went to the parade. It was crowded, God knows, but not threatening. Exactly the kind of rainbow of humanity Straight Priders pretend to seek. Not the marchers, necessarily, but the crowd, visitors and neighbors. It’s fun.

If LGBT marchers can include straight folks, then what are the Straight Priders complaining about? Oh right, their demands for inclusion is a stunt, seizing of the mechanisms of protest and trying to use them to promote bias.

The Religious Right discovered the magic trick, of casting enjoyment of human rights by those they hate as a violation of their own liberty. Their freedom to mock and denigrate and exclude is being trod upon: Your marriage wrecks my marriage. Your raising kids undermines the whole idea of raising kids. For me.

Straight Pride make the mistake all haters make: they believe the scorned person standing up must then pull them down. It doesn’t. When I joined the paper, we couldn’t put the name of a gay partner in the deceased’s obituary. It wasn’t our style. But the style changed, and you know what? Obituaries not only managed to endure, they flourished. The world did not crack, it bloomed.

You have to feel sorry for those too dense to get it. Who race to the ramparts in Boston to take up the straight man’s burden. Whose hall of mirrors mind casts their own brand of narcissistic stupidity as superiority, and see attempts at fairness to long-abused groups only as persecution of themselves.

Straight Pride evokes that line about the little kid who wonders why is there a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but no Children’s Day. And the patient parent explains that every day is Children’s Day. There doesn’t need to be a Straight Pride parade because we’ve already got a Straight Pride World. Not quite as much as it used to be, thank God, but enough. That some people insist on embarrassing themselves in Boston is proof aplenty.

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