Ok, I get it, that’s an inflammatory title, people are going to fly off the handle as soon as look at it, and I freely admit that I wrote it just to grab your attention, but do please read what I have to say, I think you might change your mind.
I attended my first gay pride parade the other day, it was great fun, I wanted to join in, but I have hang ups, and this is my point.
I’ve been searching for a “gay ally” flag in the last few days, searching for something I could wear to a pride parade that would mark me out as straight, but not anti-gay, and in the process I found an article by a gay person who seems to be saying that because straight people haven’t experienced prejudice the way gay folk have, that we don’t need a flag or symbol to represent us.
I disagree on two points, firstly, a symbol, worn by a straight gay ally, would let other like minded heterosexuals know that they are not alone. It would be a symbol of solidarity, show gay people that not every hetero is a prejudiced dick and annoy the bigots.
Secondly, straight people *have* experienced bullying and prejudice as a result of homophobia.
Entire generations have grown up with a stereotypical view of what a gay person is or does, we’ve been emotionally stunted by the idea that a heterosexual man doesn’t cry, loves sport and fighting, speaks with a “manly” drawl, doesn’t wear certain colours or clothing, and should feel intense discomfort if another man stands nearby when you’re peeing in a public toilet. It’s assumed that gay men are all about sexually assaulting any man who passes them by, even if he’s some knuckle dragging, beer bellied lummox, it’s assumed that the mere act of a male bending over, would induce any gay man in the vicinity to “bum” him.
Speaking from my perspective, the fact that I’m well spoken, wordy even, and hate sports of all kinds, was considered all the evidence required to diagnose an extreme case of gay, back when I was at school.
Back then we had a law, called section 28, that effectively legalised and encouraged discrimination against gay people, but how do you tell a gay person from a heterosexual person? The answer, of course is, you can’t. So, we either got bullied, or joined in with the bullying to “prove” that we weren’t gay. I got bullied, a lot.
So, that’s why I have hang ups about being thought to be gay, why I’m uncomfortable around overtly gay people, and why I feel the need to show support for gay people, because I can empathise with the shit they have to go through all the time, but why I also feel the need to show the fact that I am not gay, to celebrate, in a way, my personality, and the fact that, despite the bullying, I was once a homophobe myself, but have seen how wrong I was. Kind of as an apology for having been a bit of a dick, and a celebration of the fact that I’ve grown up and sort of got over it.
So, I hope I’ve convinced you that we non-bigoted hetero’s need a flag to wave in the faces of the homophobes, and to foster solidarity between people who are happy to live and let live, and to make gay people feel more at ease around us, and those of us with hang ups like mine to feel happier around them. Years of indoctrination don’t just wash away over night, we need this, or at least, I certainly do, I didn’t have it as hard as the gay kids at my school did, I would never claim that, but sure as hell it wasn’t easy or fun, and now that I have kids of my own, there’s no way I’m ever going to tolerate them receiving the sort of treatment I got, whether or not they turn out to be gay, and even if they are, I won’t abandon them or throw them out, they’re my kids, gay, straight, transgender or whatever.
As the T shirt slogans I saw at the parade read: Love wins.
As far as I can tell, the image below (not mine, I searched Google images for “straight ally flag) is the flag for those of us who aren’t gay, but who support gay people in their right to personal freedom and expression. Besides, I want a flag to wear next year!