This past weekend, Boston celebrated its 49th annual Pride parade, an extravaganza attended by tens of thousands of people that spans from Copley to Faneuil Hall. The parade celebrates LGBTQ identities and commemorates the Stonewall riots, where the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against continued police violence. In my lifetime, I’ve watched Pride gain corporate recognition and become less of a riot and more of an enormous party. However, Pride is still fun, validating and necessary.
Of course, straight people can’t let us have this one, and at the beginning of Pride Month, a call went out for a Straight Pride Parade to take place in Boston. LGBTQ people are used to this, but as much as we would love to explain the complex history of homophobia and transphobia, we’re busy and Google exists.
Note that when I say straight people, I’m not referring to all straight people. I have straight friends. My parents are both straight and I happen to like them very much. The issue is with straight people who, upon being presented with a world entirely constructed for their comfort, looked upon it and decided that it wasn’t enough. For example, Mark Sahady.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’d know that Sahady, one of the organizers of Boston’s proposed Straight Pride Parade, is a veteran, Trump supporter and white supremacist. None of this is rumor or up for debate. He has organized right-wing protests and pro-gun rallies. His social media presence is rife with alt-right dog whistles. There is absolutely nothing groundbreaking about him or his beliefs. The problem arises in his methods.
Easy. Construct a parade in direct contrast to Pride, tapping into the homophobic leanings of those not quite convinced to join the alt-right. After all, if LGBTQ people get their day, why shouldn’t straight people? Claim straight people as an “oppressed majority” facing discrimination from the city of Boston. Claim that denying straight people their right to parade in the street is unconstitutional. Gather the wavering masses under a single umbrella and disseminate the us-and-them mentality from there. When fascism can’t take hold through overt means, move it underground. Create a system of cycling dog whistles. Enmesh bullied kids into a toxic echo chamber of propaganda and build a new generation of fascists. Easy.
One look at an image of Mark Sahady indicates that he has never experienced systemic oppression in his life. He is not concerned about combating that imaginary oppression. I doubt he believes it exists. Ultimately, Sahady and his cohorts do not care about exhibiting straight pride. They do not care about the many accomplishments of straight people. They do not care about celebrating love or freedom or rising against adversity. They are concerned with recruiting vacillating parties into the alt-right and growing the fascist underground percolating under a thin veneer. Straight pride is merely another dog whistle, a reaction to majority rejection of overt neo-Nazism. And as we know, neo-Nazis do not stop at targeting gay and trans people. They target people of color, people with disabilities and Jewish people. Their hatred spreads brutally across minorities they deem undesirable and when one group is targeted, others feel the shockwaves.
Of course, straight people are not convinced by this supposed display of pride. Why should they be? A cursory examination of Sahady’s posts exposes him. In an environment where politics are constantly on display, it’s difficult to hide one’s true beliefs. Additionally, the concept of a Straight Pride Parade has been debated since gay people grew legs and crawled out of the ocean. Even if the parade is green-lit, it is doomed to follow the same path as the Dayton march. An object of ridicule, then of obscurity. A uniting force between LGBTQ people and straight people who see through the thin façade. Ultimately, this recruitment attempt will fail before it begins as the environment of the country leans toward support for Jewish people, people of color and LGBTQ people. I, for one, am ready to watch those grasping roots shrivel.