A conversation recently came up on an internet message board that I frequent which got me thinking and, ultimately, writing. The forum in question had a feature coded into it so that anyone who wished to could choose to have a small rainbow-flag Gay Pride icon displayed near their name in their posts. This feature had been in existance for a number of months, and was displayed by a number of users.
A number of less, shall we say, enlightened users demanded the creation of a "Straight Pride" icon, to "complment" the gay one. This produced a small amount of intelligent discourse and a large volume of whining drivel written at or about an eighth-grade level. The basic argument was that straight people were being discriminated against on this board, and that they demanded equal treatment. This may sound like reactionary conservative hogwash to you; it certainly did to me.
My thoughts are thus:
The western world in which we live in has been, is, and continues to be dominated by conservative heterosexual white men, their religion, and their bias. Everyone else is a second-class citizen in fact if not any longer in law. Women, Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, Gays, Lesbians, and everyone else who can't pass for a WASP is in the minority. They're different, and that's not a bad thing at all. The problem also is, however, that they're different, and that difference scares a whole lot of people.
Women's Lib is an ongoing effort to ensure that women achieve equality - the same rights, respect, opportunities, and treatment as men. Despite almost a century of progress, we're still not there. Black Rights - the Black Power movement - are an attempt to see that people of colour are no longer discriminated against. Black History Month in the States is an admittedly token attempt at recognition of the achievements of people of colour in this country against the eleven other months of white eurocentricism. Brown Pride is an identical effort for latinos. Gay Pride is an effort to have homosexuals treated equally and with respect, instead of as ungodly, aberrant third-rate freaks. All these movements, and more, are celebrations of the uniqueness, the diversity, the cultural independance of the parties involved.
Now, though, there's White Pride, and a "Men's Rights" movement, and more. "Straight Pride". What are their goals? What do they celebrate and stand for? A backwards-looking return to the status quo of yesteryear. I'm sorry - you can't celebrate the diversity of the majority - it just doesn't work that way! The whole point of Gay Pride is that they're not like everybody else, not interchangeable conservative cookie-cutter clones, but unique individuals who aren't afraid to think and act for themselves "outside the box". White Pride is a "celebration" of the way things have been for the past few centuries, when white men and men only ran the western world and everybody else was little better than property or animals. Men's Rights is a group of conservatives who are so frightened by change, so insecure with the idea of equality for women that they've launched a counter-attack upon Women's Lib to try and take back some of the precious few victories women have won for themselves. Every day, on the news and in the papers and in movies and in television is a constant celebration of male caucasian heterosexuality; isn't that enough?
Apparently not. What could "Straight Pride" possibly be but a social and moral reinforcement of the status quo? What does it celebrate but conformity? Nothing.
Like it or not, minorities have a special status in society on the simple and inarguable basis of being minorities. That's what minority means - a group of people who aren't exactly like the masses. Women, Blacks, Latinos, the handicapped, they're all given special treatment because of the difficulties facing them in society. In western society we have finally, for the most part, advanced beyond the periods in history where the "our way" of the majority was the only possible right way to be, and the minority movements are a recognition and reminder of this.
The people on this message board insisted that they only wanted equality for the masses, i.e. themselves, and weren't being hateful or disrespectful or bigots. But their chosen position is unsupportable - equality is judged against the de facto standard, the majority, the very group they wanted equality for! They argued out of insecurity, or hatred, or (because this is the internet, alas) just because they liked to argue and piss people off. Giving the majority special treatment or recognition completely nullifies any such benefits afforded minorities in the first place. "I'm a conservative white guy", they're basically saying, "but I don't feel special." You're not! You're just like everybody else!
Some argue there's a bigger picture here that's being missed - that by creating a special icon for anyone who chooses to support Gay Pride, without a "companion" icon for whatever idiots would support whatever "Straight Pride" would claim to stand for, homosexuals and their supporters are being given special treatment.
Well, duh! Of course they are - they're a minority; see above. You'd might as well argue that handicap parking spaces should have a matching number of "fully fit only" parking spaces, to maintain "equality", or a "White History Month" to compliment "Black History Month" in the name of "equality". It's ridiculous!
I have to ask this, though: Why are people who are fully-paid members of the clear and overwhelming majority in society, people who daily receive an almost nonstop flood of social reinforcement that their herd lifestyle is utterly acceptable, indeed, the best way to be, so angered by and so scared of the reminder that there are people out there who are fundamentally different than them, and who don't want to be, or be mistaken for, part of the majority? Why? I don't know. Insecurity plays a big part in it... but so does the all-pervasive moral insolence of the religous conservative.