Alex Blaze

Straight Pride gone bad

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 20, 2007 1:50 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Colorado, humorous blog post, irony, Straight Pride

From the Telluride Daily Planet:

Down main street they came, wearing Brooks Brothers and waving signs that declared “Straight is Great,” and “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” They were the Straight Pride brigade, and they high-stepped through Telluride’s Fourth of July parade like the Republican National Dance Troupe.

The Straight Priders say it was all a joke, and indeed, they won second place in the parade’s humor category. But some people aren’t laughing, saying they sniffed a whiff of anti-gay sentiment in the group’s shtick.

A whiff? The stench is a bit stronger than that.

You can head on over to the link above to read the overwhelming response of the citizens of Telluride to the homophobic act. Here's a bit:

In letters to the editor, residents called the skit “highly offensive and completely inappropriate,” a “hate group,” a “hate float,” and asked the marchers to apologize. In the Straight Pride baseball caps and pro-heterosexual signs, they didn’t see a joke, but something darker.

“They were clearly nothing more than an anti-gay hate group,” wrote Gretchen Norham, a Boulder resident who watched the parade. “Shame on this group. Shame on the judges. I expected better from people in Telluride.”

This kind of humor is always messy, and it seems like some people think they can get away with saying anything as long as it's funny. If you point out that something is homophobic, these sorts will say it's just a joke as if you're the one with the problem, and that for some reason not being able to find the humor in parroting homophobia is some sort of deficiency in the listener.

Consider this:

“I thought it was going to be a funny idea, so I was up for it,” [one marcher] said. “A lot of people are misconstruing it. It was, first and foremost, a joke. It was not homophobic.”

Why can't it be both? There are homophobic jokes. Of course, he feels that he's able to monopolize interpretation of this act (we misconstrue; he properly construes) without taking into consideration the history of violent heterosexual supremacy. The signs that they were carrying, which said things like "Not in my backdoor" or "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve", aren't new messages at all. There a context to this, and just because the marchers didn't realize it, chose to ignore it, or embraced it, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist and that it doesn't have power to those trying to enjoy the parade.

But Ethan Hale, who marched with the Straight Priders, said there was nothing malicious behind the skit, and that it was a satire of the over-the-top gay pride parades in cities like New York or San Francisco.[...]

On July 4, a dozen Telluride residents suffered into polyester pants and scratchy sweaters, combed their hair flat and slipped on loafers and pumps to become the Straight Pride marchers. They whooped and waved and kissed in the middle of main street (girls kissing boys, naturally).

Kissing the same sex in the street is an act of defiance against often violent compulsory heterosexuality. Mocking that gesture erases that history of violence and makes fun of actions that challenge conformity and heteropatriarchy (you know, the good parts of Pride that are often forgotten even by our own). It might be all a part of their ironic stance, but when you ironically present something that's important to people or something that hurts people, it only compounds the rhetorical violence.

But maybe it is about humor. Said one marcher:

Our entry number in the parade was four — funny. Four. Funny.

With a sense of humor like that, I can't imagine why these people failed to impress the locals!


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Don Sherfick | July 20, 2007 3:50 PM

Alex, I hear you loud and clear, especially when you say that when one uses the term "Adam and Steve", even when they think it is just being funny and a parody, to many (including me) it tends to mask something in what they recall to be an unfunny past. However, some of those same folks may have a similar reaction when someone, without any hint of a bad motive, publicily uses the word "queer" as an adjective to include themselves. The whole issue is certainly not a simple one.

Here's another thought: suppose that the motivation of some of our straight brothers and sisters (I'm not judging the particular situation you write about without a lot more context)was to poke some fun at our detractors in the evangelical right, and "Adam and Steve" it up big time. How sensitive is our "homophbometer" and where do we place the wires to make sure we can properly distinguish. I suggest that device is not yet anywhere ready to take to the U.S. Patent Office.

Don Sherfick | July 20, 2007 3:52 PM

"Homophbometer" in my last post would be rejected by the Patent Office out of hand because of its mis-spelling. Everyone knows it should be "Homophobometer" Don't they?

Kevin Lahti | July 20, 2007 4:03 PM

I remember in the late spring of 2007 the college republicans at my university planned to have a straight pride day.. going on the exact same week as Pride Week.. this caused such a stir at my college because the college republicans were attempting to say that straight people struggled to fit into "gay society".. ultimately the event was canceled by the republicans..

My favorite line, honestly, I saw in Towleroad's picture:

I'M JUST FRENCH

Priceless.

While I am not a fan of gay pride parades as they are in the present day I also think that a Straight Pride group marching in a parade is in bad taste.

Don Sherfick said: ". . . especially when you say that when one uses the term "Adam and Steve", even when they think it is just being funny and a parody, to many (including me) it tends to mask something in what they recall to be an unfunny past"

. . . or an unfunny present, as it is in Texas, where I live. Today one can see patently homophobic bumper stickers -- many using that very language, "Adam and Steve" etc. -- displayed on the backs of enormous SUVs in small Texas towns.

I don't think I can find such a parody at all funny any time soon. At least not until we are allowed equal rights in this country . . . and perhaps not even then.

Don said:

suppose that the motivation of some of our straight brothers and sisters (I'm not judging the particular situation you write about without a lot more context)was to poke some fun at our detractors in the evangelical right, and "Adam and Steve" it up big time.

That's an interesting thought. There was a group of people who did that this past Indy Pride, although I think they were gay and lesbian, with signs that said "Shrimp is an abomination", etc. Kinda what you're describing, and I didn't think that was offensive at all. I guess, for me, the whole thing is intent. That situation the intent was to mock homophobes, and I can't see anything wrong with that. In this situation in Colorado seems like they intended to make fun of Pride and speaking out against homophobia.

However, some of those same folks may have a similar reaction when someone, without any hint of a bad motive, publicily uses the word "queer" as an adjective to include themselves.

And we didn't have to waterboard you that time! LOL.

This queer situation between the two of us reminds me of a story that Patricia Williams tells in Alchemy of Race and Rights when she and her sister, when they were young, were looking out the car at the highway, and Patricia thought it was black and her sister thought it was purple. They argued about it, and now Patricia looks back on that and thinks that they were both right about something that is rather simple and objective. So maybe what gets labeled as simple (it's just a word!) and objective (all words have a defined meaning!), is just the front-end of deeper cultural/contextual issues.

That is, for me "queer" is affirming, inclusive, and empowering with relation to the heteropatriarchy; for you it's demeaning, an insult, a form of discursive violence. And we're both right based on our cultural backgrounds (apparently "gay" and "Hoosier" don't mean that we come from the same place).

Well, there's a mind-trip. And if I do ever less-nuancedly offend, feel free to pull out the tawses and whips... figuratively, of course. ;)

A. J. Lopp | July 21, 2007 2:34 PM

This is a potentially non-offensive idea executed imperfectly --- there is nothing wrong with "Straight is Great" but "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" clearly connotes that there is something objectionable about Adam and Steve. OTOH, "I'm just French" is genuinely funny --- except to the straight men in France.

These folks went out of their way to put on polyester leisure suits, donn "big hair" and 4-inch stilletos --- which shows that they were making fun of straight stereotypes just as much as they were gay ones.

I don't think this was done with any true malice toward the GLBT community. It was more of a faux pas than it was an attack.

It would be a much better use of our time to picket an Army recruiting center over DADT than boycotting Telluride over their "Straight Pride" group. "Get over it!" I say.