When I was 14 years old I fell in ‘love’ for the first time. His name was Matt. He was taller than all the other boys I knew, when he smiled his eyes crinkled ever so slightly at the corners, and his dark hair curled softly on his tanned neck.
I worried constantly about anyone spotting me throwing him coy looks and bullying me for being attracted to a boy. I was constantly hearing about how it wasn’t natural, about people with feelings like mine being assaulted in the streets. I knew it would shock my family and alienate my friends but I just couldn’t help how I felt…
Being straight is the default. Never in my entire life have I had to consider the implications of who I’m attracted to. Never had to case a place out for potential issues before giving a boyfriend a kiss. Never had to pause and wonder if I might come to physical harm, humiliation and bullying because of who I love. Never had to weigh up if I should tell new friends or work colleagues about my sexuality or just let them work it out. In short, it’s just not something I ever have to think about.
So why on earth is a there a Straight Pride Parade happening in Sydney tomorrow? The organisers of the rally, a far right, conservative group who are rather confusingly named ‘Party for Freedom’ have organised a Straight Lives Matter rally- BTW great job bastardising not one, but two movements for marginalised people – to protest the idea that people they don’t know might be able to get married and thus affecting their lives in absolutely no way at all. Oh the horror!
According to their Facebook page the parade/rally/protest is to “give supporters of traditional marriage an opportunity to band together in solidarity and speak out against the proposed legalization of same sex marriage.” Hmmm, probably worth keeping in mind Australia is the country that spawned the reality TV show ‘Married at First Sight’ that sees couples meeting for the very first time at the altar. Now there is nothing wrong with this show, if consenting adults want to take part, I say go for it. However it’s somewhat hypocritical to be fine with a marriage as one man, one woman, four network execs and some pretty high ratings, but not fine with a marriage between two people of the same gender who are already in a committed and loving relationship.
A Straight Lives Matter parade is as embarrassing as it is unnecessary. The whole reason there is a postal vote is so people can vote yes or no without influence or judgment, so really, what is the purpose of this rally? The idea of Bob and Karen from suburbia casting a vote on whether a group of people are allowed the same basic human rights as them is uncomfortable enough without dreaming up imaginary reasons why straight people should be offended or imagine they don’t matter because someone else can enjoy the same privileges.
It’s easy to feel proud of something when you’ve never been made to feel ashamed of it.
I caught up with Auckland based Gal Stern to get her take.
“Straight lives matter…well, who ever said they didn’t? Was there a recent case of a straight person being persecuted for being straight I wasn’t aware of? Straight lives matter yes. And queer lives. And black lives. And white lives. All lives matter, really. Because at the end of the day, we all live on this same earth, struggling with the same problems, tackling the same issues, paying too much rent, and working too many hours. Who on earth, really, has the time to use up so much unnecessary energy hating people just because of their sexuality or gender? Really, are these people unaware of all the other shit they have to get done that day? Have they specifically cleared up an hour or two from the chaos of life so they can direct their energy toward hating queers? Is it during your lunch break or…? I really am just trying to figure out when you guys have the energy to even care about strangers….but anyway, what I’m trying to say here is maybe these people who hate queers so much should really just commit to a new Netflix show to direct their energy toward, or get a hobby. I hear cross stitching is in these days. At the end of the day, when you, or I, are on our death beds, we are not going to be thinking about each other. I’m not going to think, as I fade away slowly, ‘Oh, these straight people…’, and you’re not going to think about us queer people. So what’s the point thinking about each other now?
Pride festival, to put it simply, is a chance for the queer community to have a space to be surrounded by other queer people. Meaning, we can finally let our guard down, relax, and feel normal. Normal because for this small speck of a moment, the minority isn’t us for once, and ‘queern-ess’ is the mainstream all around us.
Do you, as a straight person, have to wait for a specific day to feel like part of the mainstream?
Here’s an example: A week or so ago my girlfriend and I went to view a flat we wanted to rent. We were happily talking and holding hands only to quickly let go of one another as we saw the agency approach. We did that because we didn’t want our application to be, in any way, hindered by any personal dislike the agent might have because we we are holding hands.
As a lesbian, I literally have to scan a room, a restaurant, a city street before deciding whether or not to hold my girlfriend’s hand. You know, just to make sure there aren’t any people who may seem like they would give us dirty looks or unwanted attention. Whereas you, as a straight person, never have to think twice about doing such a natural, basic action of holding your significant other’s hand.
Did you ever have to omit the gender of your partner when talking about them, just in case the person you were talking to may have a problem with it? No. I mean, how many times was my girlfriend reduced to a ‘partner’ just because of the person I was talking to? Straight pride…straight lives matter….we know. We see it every day. And like I’ve said before, that’s absolutely fine, because my mother and father indeed matter. But at the same time, I don’t see them only feeling 100% comfortable holding hands, or God forbid, even sneak a kiss, during the one day of ‘straight pride’.
Straight lives matter yes, but not because they are ‘straight’, but because they are ‘lives’. “