"Straight Pride" Sweatshirt Message Is Subject of Law Suit
April 5, 2001 8:37 AM   Subscribe

"Straight Pride" Sweatshirt Message Is Subject of Law Suit - A 16-year-old boy barred from wearing a sweatshirt bearing the words Straight Pride to school out of concern it would cause fighting has filed suit, arguing his free speech rights were violated.
posted by radio_mookie (45 comments total)
Here is a paragarpah from the article:

"School Superintendent Dan Hoke, suggesting the sweatshirt's message carried anti-homosexual overtones, said in a statement that students should be ``free from discrimination, harassment and disruptions such as fights or altercations.''

Does this mean that "Gay Pride" carries anti-heterosexual overtones?
posted by poorhouse at 8:55 AM on April 5, 2001

Hmm... this is a tough one.

I suppose if the kid had been wearing a shirt that said "Die, fags, die!", the principal would have been completely in the right. However, all this shirt said was "Straight Pride". He didn't go out of his way to be offensive, he was just showing pride in his lifestyle, just like if I wore a shirt that said "Bi Pride".

As painful as it is for me to say it, he has a right to wear this shirt. It's a fine line, but if I were the principal, I wouldn't have told him not to wear it. I would probably find it a bit distasteful and certainly closeminded - but offensive? No, unfortunately not.
posted by starvingartist at 8:58 AM on April 5, 2001

"Does this mean that 'Gay Pride' carries anti-heterosexual overtones?"

Not as much as the other way around. Traditionally the Gay Pride movement has been equally about not being ashamed to admit your orientation as well as promoting tolerance for all lifestyles, whereas a large majority of pro-straight thought has been that homosexuality is wrong. I'm not saying there are no gays that don't like straight people, and I'm not saying there are no straights that think being gay is ok. But there is a definite lean one way or the other.
posted by starvingartist at 9:02 AM on April 5, 2001

I have two opinions on the matter here. The first is that I think the school is going a little too far here, but I also think the kid's rediculous for suing over this shirt. That last one is a direct result of my next opinion:

I think the "straight pride" thing is totally rediculous, almost-but-not-quite offensive, and a clear admission that the person has no clue what "gay pride" means. If straights were somehow opressed because of their sexual orientation, then I would have no problem with the shirt. But they haven't. If you want to draw a radical metaphor, it's like the homosexual's version of White Supremacy groups. People who suddenly feel threatened when the minority starts to get power. Or possibly, who just don't understand what's going on.
posted by CrayDrygu at 9:21 AM on April 5, 2001

This is a bit tough. My initial reaction is that saying "straight pride" is a lot like the current trends of "white pride" - i.e., by saying you're speaking for something you are then supposedly not saying you're against something else, when speaking against it would get you branded as racist/homophobic/etc. It's a really sneaky tactic, but bogus. On another hand, I can actually see the "straight pride" shirt as being a cute joke. I think I'd have to see the actual shirt on the person in question to determine what the actual intent was.

(edit: bit of a x-post with CrayDrygu)
posted by dnash at 9:24 AM on April 5, 2001

OK, I never thought of it that way. Must be my ingrained racism talking. In that light, I guess the shirt could be seen as inappropriate. I'm just much more concerned about the drunks who go hunting "fags" at 3am and people who use the word "gay" to mean something really bad. If this ignorant kid wants to look like an idiot, fine.
posted by starvingartist at 9:31 AM on April 5, 2001

I think I was a little flippant in my first response ... in an effort to be brief ... But, like starvingartist, I just wanted to make the point that the kid had a right to wear the T-shirt, even if I do get the undertone of his message and action.

The response should have been a discussion ... not a ban.

I have children in middle school, and, ever since the school shootings, I see the schools and parents get increasingly nervous and worried, watching for all sorts of small signs of trouble, which they hope to avert by intervening with all sorts of rules.

Just the other day, I received a note form my kids' school about dress code issues ... one of these issues was wearing "leather bracelets with symbols." Does that mean that the kids can't wear peace symbols ... Would this ban also apply to designer logos? I guess, the schools are worried about gang associations ... Does a Ralph Lauren, a Channel, or a Versace "symbol" put you in the right "gang"? Hmm... I'll have to check with the schools...

Anyway ... my point is that there is too much fear out there, and I am worried about the level of immaturity (and sometimes contempt) in response to a lot of teen behavior.

I just wish some of these parents would finally grow up and not ask their kids to act the grownups they can't quite muster to be....

/end of rant for today
posted by poorhouse at 9:34 AM on April 5, 2001

Very tough issue. My initial reaction is to say "Why not? If a gay student can wear a "Gay Pride" sweatshirt and no one says 'boo' about it, why not the other way around?" But as pointed out above, Gay Pride is not about being exclusive of others' lifestyle choices, and it can be argued that the sentiment of "Straight Pride" is. But we don't know what this person's agenda was/is. Or do we?

Here's a clue:

Representing Chambers in the suit is the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, a Tupelo, Mississippi-based group that says on its Web site that it is opposed to ``the radical homosexual agenda.''

Now, it may be that this family is simply taking free legal representation and not looking a gift horse in the mouth. But I know that I would refuse to be associated with a group like this unless I subscribed to their philosophy. This makes the whole incident look a little less like an innocent tongue-in-cheek statement and a little more sinister. But maybe that's just my take.
posted by jennaratrix at 9:49 AM on April 5, 2001

The one thing I know about this for certain is that I do not know the person that wore the shirt, and therefore I do not know what his intent in wearing it was. I do believe that intent is the most important part of the equation. If this was a joke, it is harmless even if it is perhaps in bad taste. Of course, it does sound like it was probably intended as a message rather than a joke, but the story didn't quote anything that would answer that question for certain. I do know that at least one local school will not allow anyone to wear shirts that feature a band or a sports team, as that is a 'fight-starter' or something like that. I do not like that trend.
posted by bargle at 9:52 AM on April 5, 2001

There are some gays who deserve a free "Narrow But Not Straight" t-shirt -- Drudge, for example.

The troublesome thing about this (aside from the limitation of rights for students in general, a very real issue) is the way everybody tends to jump into Aristotelean excluded-middle mode -- if you're for X, you must therefore be against anything not-X. I've seen this from so-called progressives and Reaganites alike, and it stinks to high heaven. It's this thinking that leads to the oh so post-modern concept that to mention, say, homosexuality without automatically condemning it is not merely mentioning its existence but actively advocating it. This pernicious notion shuts off debate (I remember the head of a Reagan-era Aids panel, from the American Family Association IIRC, saying he wouldn't invite people who disagreed with him or his ideological cohorts on to the panel -- so much for free speech or representative democracy for that matter) and leads to people being accused of thought-crimes merely for attempting a truthful description of social or physical reality.

American indian thought, in contrast to european thought, seems to believe that although an attribute may be concentrated in one location (say, north, if you think of a compass) that attribute will not be totally absent in other locations (west, south, east, and in-between). Think of the yin-yang symbol, which has a little bit of yin amidst the yang, and vice versa.
posted by retrofut at 10:23 AM on April 5, 2001

Like many others, I have very mixed feelings. Frankly, I don't see why anyone would wear a "Straight Pride" t-shirt unless they were anti-homosexual. It's entirely different than wearing, for example, a Christian pride t-shirt. There are plenty of places where being a Christian is unpopular or even illegal. Being proud to be a Christian doesn't imply that you're anti-semitic, for example.

I'm not aware of any place where heterosexuals are persecuted (well, maybe in Dupont Circle, but only if they wear bad shoes). If a student wears a Straight Pride t-shirt, the possible effect is to increase anti-gay sentiment in his peers. Teenagers are not known for their maturity or their enlightenment.

Having said that, I wouldn't ban the shirt. You shouldn't ban speech because it might cause harassment. If harassment occurs, you stop that. And if the speech is found to have incited the harassment, then (and only then) you can take action against the inciter.
posted by anapestic at 10:47 AM on April 5, 2001

This is interesting. My first thoughts upon reading about the 'straight pride' t-shirt were this... in an era where many people are coming out and choices for sexual expression are opening up (gay, bi, poly, etc.), I can see where a student may feel like they need to re-assert that their choice for heterosexuality is okay. I know this sounds a little strange, but that's really what I was thinking - that this kid might have just been doing something like that. Of course, then I read the article, and the fact that the kid's being represented by a group that opposes the so-called 'radical homosexual agenda' means that the kid probably WASN'T thinking what I was thinking. LOL.
posted by thunder at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2001

Dammit, I just lost my nicely worded post.

The term "straight" originated in the homosexual community. To call yourself straight does not imply that you are a heterosexual, but rather that you are a homosexual who appears to be a heterosexual.
Thus the t-shirt is very funny

I saw the shirt on the news last night, it is a white sweatshirt with a hood. The front has "straight pride" in simple black letters across the chest. Maybe 72 point type.
The back has blue graphics of the man and woman icons we all know from bathroom doors holding hands.

Next time, I will uncover the ugly truth behind the phrase "punk" rock.
posted by thirteen at 11:10 AM on April 5, 2001

The term "straight" originated in the homosexual community. To call yourself straight does not imply that you are a heterosexual, but rather that you are a homosexual who appears to be a heterosexual.

I did not know that. Well that puts a whole new spin on it, doesn't it?

Next time, I will uncover the ugly truth behind the phrase "punk" rock.

...patience... wearing thin... must... know... NOW! Please, please, please, tell us!
posted by starvingartist at 11:19 AM on April 5, 2001

I graduated from the other high school in South Washington County back in 1996, and there were a bit of problems with anti-gay violence and harassment during school that year (well, the harassment happened every year...). Woodbury is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, and I'm not surprised that there have been some issues with people expressing displeasure with living in a diverse community.

I remember a few years before I graduated, some idiot kid got beat up for making a racist comment (sounds similar to that Confederate flag incident.) Hey, that shirt got banned for this kid's own protection.

This recent article about violence in Woodbury schools may prove a bit more illuminating.
posted by Electric Elf at 11:22 AM on April 5, 2001

Frankly, I don't see why anyone would wear a "Straight Pride" t-shirt unless they were anti-homosexual.

Maybe to tweak people who think their sexual orientation is an achievement to be proud of, rather than an accident of nature/nurture. It's like being proud of your height.
posted by kindall at 11:24 AM on April 5, 2001

From Pioneer Planet:

The lawsuit also is critical of some of the steps the school has taken to make it more welcoming for gay, lesbian and bisexual students including the designation of ``safe rooms'' where students can talk with a teacher or counselor about personal issues.

Freedom of speech notwithstanding, I'm not sure how the inclusion of "safe rooms" violates this particular "proud" student's rights.
posted by swell at 11:35 AM on April 5, 2001

Maybe to tweak people who think their sexual orientation is an achievement to be proud of, rather than an accident of nature/nurture. It's like being proud of your height.

Grr... Gay/Bi Pride is not about an achievement. You miss the point entirely. The statement is not "I'm so proud that I've managed to become gay", it's "I'm gay and I'm not going to be ashamed about it anymore - I'm proud". It's accepted and encouraged in American society (the only society I can speak of personally) that to be gay, indeed quite often to be different, is bad and wrong and shameful. Heterosexuals don't have to be proud of their sexuality because they are the norm!
posted by starvingartist at 11:54 AM on April 5, 2001

From dictionary.com's listing of proud:

3. Feeling or showing justifiable self-respect.
posted by starvingartist at 11:56 AM on April 5, 2001

Freedom of speech notwithstanding, I'm not sure how the inclusion of "safe rooms" violates this particular "proud" student's rights.

Presumably because a conservative legal foundation is piggybacking on a legitimate free speech question and taking on some more exclusively anti-gay issues.

Starvingartist, I don't want to spoil Thirteen's fun, so I'll give you this quote from Shakespeare: "Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, / whipping, and hanging." (Measure for Measure, Act V, Scene I)
posted by snarkout at 1:04 PM on April 5, 2001

You miss the point entirely.

Oh, I understand the point completely. I just object to sloppy use of language.

Pride comes from achievements. You can be proud of what you've done, but being proud of who or what you are, as if you're better than everyone else because of factors beyond your control, makes no sense at all. That we frequently bestow upon ourselves unearned pride (often enough that dictionaries acknowledge the usage) doesn't mean it's the best or even a justifiable use of the word. Indeed, I see it as yet another sad example of how we as a society place more importance on feeling good than on actually doing good. I also object to attempts to appropriate the word for use primarily by the oppressed, as if suffering in itself is an achievement.

If someone wants to say they're not ashamed of being gay, that they indeed reject the majority's attempts to make them feel shame, there are many perfectly clear ways to say it without watering down "pride" into a mere synonym for "self-respect." Some ways of expressing that thought are even pithy enough to work on t-shirts...
posted by kindall at 1:15 PM on April 5, 2001

I don't know if "straight" was invented by gays (unlike "breeders" used as an insult) -- isn't the phrase "morally straight" in the Boy Scout creed? -- but the term "gay community" was invented by straights, so far as I could tell, during the mid-80s so they could castigate gays for Aids. (As in, "Why can't the gay community stop this terrible disease?")

So far as I can see there is no "gay community," there's a lot of micro-communities that overlap to some degree. That's why there is no "gay agenda," except to survive.

(And there are plenty of people who have same-sex sex who don't consider themselves "gay" [as in lifestyle], which is one of the difficulties in reaching them re prevention of STD transmission -- see the NYTimes article last Tuesday in the Health section. And it looks like heterosexuals invented both heterosexuality and homosexuality early last century as classifications [medicalizations] of sexuality. But that's another topic...)
posted by retrofut at 1:25 PM on April 5, 2001

kindall, what basis do you have for your usage of "pride." From the dictionaries I've been able to consult, "self-respect" does not appear to be a recent addition to the list of definitions.

You seem to have unilaterally narrowed the meaning of a word. It's not "sloppy use of language" to use a word in a generally accepted matter, simply because it doesn't agree with your arbitrary restrictions.
posted by anapestic at 1:32 PM on April 5, 2001

Oh, I understand the point completely. I just object to sloppy use of language.

I'll refer to the defintion just a couple posts above your message, kindall.

So, by your thinking, anything that makes us stands out, if it makes us feel good but was not an achievement on our part, we should not be proud of it but merely accept it and move on. Tell that to the deaf community. And what about things we truly have no control over? I've been told I have beautiful eyes, a really nice voice, and that I am a very nice person. I have absolutely no control over the first two, and I never really went out of my way to "achieve" niceness - it's just part of my personality. I can't be proud of these things? What self-effacing monastery do you live in?
posted by starvingartist at 1:33 PM on April 5, 2001

Kindall, I hope you're not disrespecting the Godfather of Soul. FWIW, my dictionary of choice's primary definition of "pride" is "[a] sense of one's own proper dignity or value; self-respect", which is the sense which I think Mr. Brown's phrase conveys.

And to riff for a moment, who's to say that pride in the accomplishments of the group of which you are a member is wrong? Was it wrong for Jewish baseball fans to idolize Hank Greenberg? Is it wrong to be proud of the accomplishments of your children (or your parents)?
posted by snarkout at 1:37 PM on April 5, 2001

Memo to Kindall: nice try, buddy, but the horse is dead...

Don't worry, there are lots and lots of gay men who don't like the "pride" labelling either. We're not ashamed of being gay, we just are gay - like some of us have brown hair or blue eyes - without making that the overwhelming center of who we are as people. But mostly because we don't go around making a big deal about it, you only see "the other side" in the media, as I'm sure you can imagine that having a parade to celebrate something that's just not that important to us is not our style...
posted by m.polo at 1:37 PM on April 5, 2001

The term "straight" originated in the homosexual community. To call yourself straight does not imply that you are a heterosexual, but rather that you are a homosexual who appears to be a heterosexual.

As a gay man, I've never heard this usage. "Straight," in the sexuality context, has always been used to mean heterosexual. A "homosexual who appears to be heterosexual" would be "straight-acting" or "straight-appearing."
posted by dnash at 1:40 PM on April 5, 2001

Yeah, a lot of us are ambivalent about the whole concept of gay pride.

m.polo, perhaps you'll join me in proclaiming tomorrow National *Shrug* I'm Gay Day. There will be a parade at noon. Show your support by not marching. Prominent non-attendees include...
posted by anapestic at 1:45 PM on April 5, 2001

I'm not saying it would be wrong to revel in the achievements of others, or to idolize successful members of your group (however you define that). I would just use words other than "pride" for those things. There are other words available that do not have the connotation of achievement that I associate with "pride." "Pride" also carries connotations of boasting for me, and it seems to me exceedingly silly to boast about something that you didn't have a hand in.

But apparently these connotations only belong to me. Nevertheless I'm proud of my unique relationship with the English language, which I have worked long and hard to cultivate. ;)
posted by kindall at 1:56 PM on April 5, 2001

I am sorry, I went into greater detail before I lost my post. I was referring to the origin of the word as slang. It has since been morphed, and now we have the "straight-acting" term to replace it.

I am of the opinion that it's meaning changed out of ignorance of what it was supposed to mean, and I hold tight to that definition (I do not like vocabulary drift). It is my understanding that the word started to be used in this context in the 50's. I cannot find a link to back me up, but it is pretty unimportant either way.
posted by thirteen at 2:05 PM on April 5, 2001

You know, my first reaction was that this kid should be able to wear the shirt without harassment from the school. I wrote the same phrase on a t-shirt when I was in high school because I was sick of people asking me about my sexual orientation and because a goodly portion of my friends were gay or bi and would chide me for not being experimentative enough. I always thought it was sad that they had to wear their sexuality like a badge, and I wanted to illustrate the ridiculousness of that with the shirt. However, my agenda was definitely not anti-homosexual - it was just the opposite. Since I don't know the kid, I can't assume that he was being blatantly anti-anything, you know? And I don't really see how the school could either.

BTW - no one at my school cared, though the contingency of students who were positive that I was a lesbian gave me hell for it. I guess they thought I wasn't representin' or something. Whatever.
posted by annathea at 2:50 PM on April 5, 2001

"Pride" also carries connotations of boasting for me, and it seems to me exceedingly silly to boast about something that you didn't have a hand in.

That seems perfectly reasonable to me. Just because I'm curious, what term(s) do you use where others might use "$foo pride"? "Self-respect" seems like an obvious choice.
posted by snarkout at 3:20 PM on April 5, 2001

kindall avers: "Pride" also carries connotations of boasting for me, and it seems to me exceedingly silly to boast about something that you didn't have a hand in.

Misplaced, exaggerated or boastful pride is "hubris," something altogether different from "gay pride" as articulated above by starvingartist et al.

I would like to say that I am proud to be a member of MetaFilter, where rational and civilized discourse on topics such as this can take place. That emotion has nothing to do with my personal achievements. Is there another word I should use instead?
posted by bradlands at 4:51 PM on April 5, 2001

Replying to a few different things here...

"To call yourself straight does not imply that you are a heterosexual"

You mean just like saying "I'm gay" implies that you're happy?

"You can be proud of what you've done, but being proud of who or what you are, as if you're better than everyone else because of factors beyond your control, makes no sense at all."

Then look at it this way: I'm proud of my ability to, in the face of all the constant jokes, harassment, and even violence directed towards homosexuals, stand up and say "I'm gay, and I don't care what you think." I'm proud that I have the self-respect to not give a shit what you think of who I go to bed with.

That's what I've achieved. I've stood up against the bullshit.

Of course, I wouldn't have to stretch it out like this if you'd look at the dictionary definitions people have been pasting ("[a] sense of one's own proper dignity or value; self-respect" for example) and see that it's a perfectly good use of the word to begin with.

And commenting to nobody specific about the so-called "gay agenda": Why can't one of these idiots who keep talking about it actually tell us what it is? I'd love to know, because none of my gay friends know what it is, either.
posted by CrayDrygu at 5:35 PM on April 5, 2001

Of course, I wouldn't have to stretch it out like this if you'd look at the dictionary definitions people have been pasting

Dictionaries are useful, but they rarely fully convey the nuances of words as they're actually used. As I said, the associations I have for "pride" are obviously not shared by others. The point is conceded; no further sadomasochistic equine necrophilia is required.
posted by kindall at 7:04 PM on April 5, 2001

"no further sadomasochistic equine necrophilia"

You know, statistics show that over 90% of those who engage in sadomasochistic equine necrophilia are heterosexual. ;-)
posted by bradlands at 8:10 PM on April 5, 2001

"Dictionaries are useful, but they rarely fully convey the nuances of words as they're actually used."

I never said your connotations were wrong, and I even agree with some of them. But "gay pride" is still a perfectly valid use of the word. Besides, there's different types of pride, and the connotations I associate with the word change depending on the context. For example, "Seven deadly sins" pride versus "worked hard and got promoted" pride.

You're right, so are we. English is a great language until you want to say things that mean the *same* thing to *everyone* who's listening. Then it kinda sucks. Feel free to come up with a better term, I guarantee you'll have the same problem.

Meanwhile, "gay pride" works pretty well, IMHO.
posted by CrayDrygu at 9:38 PM on April 5, 2001

Opposable Thumb Pride! Bipedal Locomotion Pride! Median Height For My Demographic Pride! Unhealthy Food Eater Who Just Can't Switch From Extra Value Meals To Salad Pride!

Eh. The kid might be a prankster, but my gut tells me his t-shirt is code for "kill the queers."
posted by whuppy at 7:45 AM on April 6, 2001

I wonder where I can buy one of those sweatshirts? If nothing else, it certainly proves to be one heck of a conversation piece.

I find this thornbush kinda irksome. It runs along the same faulty thoughtlines as one of my favorite absurdist line of reasoning that explains why "Black people cannot be predjudiced". It's defending a unilateral right to a high ground - Only white people can be predjudiced, and 'straight' people have no right to be proud of their sexual orientation.

Frankly, I will never see a gay person as 'proud' until they can get past the militant insecurity that seems to be the locus of the discussion here.

Frankly, folks - it's a sweatshirt. Maybe I have an inordinantly large ego, but I somehow avoid getting my panties in a twist when I see human billboards that don't trumpet my presonal position. Heck, I even manage to blow off those espousing the direct opposite of my own position. Believe it or not, I am so insensitive to my own tentative position that I even manage to care less when somebody directly opposes my position.

"It's some schmuck in a sweatshirt," I reason. "Whatever makes him happy."

This sweatshirt is an absolute non-issue to anyone, gay, bi-, tri-, uni- or quadra- that does not have a seige mentality. "If it ain't for us, its agin us." Bleah. No matter what he MEANT by the shirt, the WORDS it contained expressed an absolutely valid point of view. And I am extremely wary of people who take a position that they are solely entitled to a statement of self-respect.

So... lets see how many people I can cheese off. I am proud to be straight, proud to be male, proud to be white, proud to be of Irish heritage, and, strangely, proud to be an American. I'm also pretty proud to be me in general.

This must mean I am a Meglomaniac homophobic misogynist predjudiced xenophobe with jingoistic tendencies. Bad me. Bad, Bad me...
posted by Perigee at 8:43 AM on April 6, 2001

There are two ways to look at the goal of gay liberation, in terms of politics. One is to gain equal rights for same-sexers, especially compared to before Stonewall in '69 (homo sodomy is still specifically illegal in at least four states, and you can still get beheaded shot or strung up if someone wants to treat you as a member of your classification and a target, rather than as a human being). The other is to gain equal rights and tolerance for all rather than just fight for a piece of the politico-consumer pie.

The former is truer to the spirit of post-Stonewall politics (if in petrified form), but sets you up for the "protected class" argument. (And shows a serious a lack of ambition -- why settle for the protected status of white males or the rich when you can be valued for yourself?) The latter promotes coalition-building with others.

One strand of queer theory sez that hetero- and homo- are uselessly vague classifications when applied to people rather than acts, so why should one be singled out by law?
posted by retrofut at 10:31 AM on April 6, 2001

Perigee, why do you assume that any gay people -- students, parents, or otherwise -- cared about the sweatshirt? The school superintendant seems to have been the one who pronounced it a no-go, presumably based on a narrow reading of what constitutes an acceptable message for students to have on their clothing, but there's nothing in that story that makes me think that he's gay.

"Militant insecurity." Heh.
posted by snarkout at 11:09 AM on April 6, 2001

As another gay man, here's my personal take on gay pride.

For years I felt ashamed about and scared of being attracted to other men. I was afraid of what other people would think if they knew about it. Slowly I summoned up the courage to tell friends, and to stop hiding it, and then -- eventually -- to tell my parents. I was terrified of how they'd react, because several years earlier they'd expressed unhappiness with the possibility of my being gay. But I managed to talk to them about it. It was scary. But I finally did it.

What I've achieved might be meaningful only to myself. Fine. I'm damn proud of myself for finally being able to get past my fears, to stop feeling sorry for myself, and to tell my parents and others that even though they might not like it, this is who I am. This may have nothing to do with you. No problem.

As a comparison, I'm also Jewish, but I don't really feel "Jewish pride" in the strict sense of the word "pride," because I haven't really had to overcome anything related to being a Jew. I feel much cultural affinity with other Jews, and I enjoy having a shared background with them. But being Jewish hasn't really caused me shame -- hasn't ever really been something I had to "get over."

I'm also left-handed, and I don't feel a whole lot of "lefty pride."

But getting over many of the obstacles associated with being gay is something I see as a personal achievement -- something that's helped me grow as a person -- and I'm proud of that.
posted by Tin Man at 12:51 PM on April 6, 2001

I think there's a serious case for taking pride in not only your strength of conviction about the rightness of your sexuality, but also in the richness of your cultural history, Tin. You hit it right on the head when you said that that your personal pride need not mean anything to anyone else; however I do believe that a knowledge and appreciation of your cultural history can - and perhaps should rightly bring forth a swelling of pride. If 'pride' seems an inappropriate word, perhaps honor may be a better term. Maybe.

We're all component pieces of what has gone before, as well as what we build of ourselves - so, at least in my opinion, there is ample room for a quiet, internal personal pride in heritage in history.

But really, Tin, the thing is you really hit the mark - your points of pride are absolutely valid unto yourself, and to those who respect and honor you. And those same points of pride are unassailable by those who would demean you. To me, That's security, and That's the apex of good pride.


Snarkout - actually, my point was towards some of the posts on this board rather than the article itself; to choose one most illustrative, anapestic's comments that

"Frankly, I don't see why anyone would wear a "Straight Pride" t-shirt unless they were anti-homosexual." (If they're not with us, they're agin us")

and, my perhaps mis-read intention of sarcasm in a later post,

"National *Shrug* I'm Gay Day. There will be a parade at noon. Show your support by not marching. Prominent non-attendees include..."

Frankly, I agree completely with a National *shrug* I'm Gay Day. Hopefully, over time, the rest of the world will too. Because when that happens, homosexuality will be as accepted as hetrosexuality, and we can all stop grinding our teeth over what somebody else does with their personal life. The question comes down to whether Gay Pride marches do anything to break down those barriers between people, or do they encourage an "us VS them" mentality that actually hinders progress towards understanding.
posted by Perigee at 2:25 PM on April 6, 2001

In other words, you're proud of your accomplishments, of overcoming the obstacles and fears placed in your path by a homophobic culture -- not of being gay in and of itself.

Which is cool. I applaud it. Everyone has to get past certain things in life and everyone should be proud when they manage to do so, oppressed minorities even more so. On such achievements is self-esteem built.

But your t-shirt should say "Getting Past My Fears, Stopping Feeling Sorry For Myself, and Telling My Parents And Others That I Am Who I Am Even Though They May Not Like It Pride." Because that's what you're really proud of. A bit long for a T-shirt, perhaps, but then again, maybe not. Its primary failing is that it doesn't say anything about being gay and in fact that shirt could have been worn by many groups throughout history.

But, I've already said I'm not gonna beat this horse anymare. If I'm intended to read "Gay Pride" as a sort of shorthand for all the above, I can get behind that. It is a kind of mildly in-your-face phrase as well; those who use it are putting their sexuality on the line, making it an issue, and refusing to be cowed by others' reaction.
posted by kindall at 2:33 PM on April 6, 2001

"In order for our private lives to remain private, we must first be public about them." -- Urvashi Vaid
posted by bradlands at 2:59 PM on April 6, 2001

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