We answer your burning heterosexual questions with our straight person's guide to Pride.
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s Pride month! This means that every Twitter bio you stumble across is adorned with multicoloured emojis, and every other dog you pass in the street is wearing a rainbow bandana. But if you’re a straight person, figuring out how (and if) you should get involved with Pride can be a minefield of confusion. That’s why we’ve got the lowdown on all things LGBTQI+.
Question: What even is Pride month, anyway?
We’re glad you asked! The first step towards understanding the importance of Pride (and therefore avoiding any silly slip-ups) is knowing what the heck it’s all about. So here’s a quick timeline:
- June 28th, 1969 - The police raided a New York City bar called the Stonewall Inn. At this time, homosexuality was illegal, but the bar’s patrons resisted the police and rioted over the next few nights. These demonstrations brought global attention to the plight of the LGBT community. Pretty cool start.
- 1970 - The phrase ‘gay pride’ was coined by L. Craig Schoonmaker. A Commemorative march was organised with a march to Central Park - effectively creating the first Pride event.
- 1972- Parades spread around the globe, with events being held in Brighton, Boston, Paris, London, Stockholm and more.
- 1980’s and 1990’s - Pride events became more celebratory, with phrases such as ‘liberation’ and ‘freedom’ being dropped from event names.
- 2017 - London’s biggest ever pride, with over 26,000 people marching and 1 million people rocking up for the party. Maybe 2018 will be even bigger? Let’s hope so!
Pride happens in June (and July) because the original Stonewall riots happened in June. People from all across the LGBTQI+ rainbow and their allies come together for a super awesome street party with distinctly activist roots.
Question: Can I go to Pride if I don’t identify as LGBTQI+?
Yes, of course you can! Heading to a Pride celebration as an ally is a cool thing to do, provided you remember some important ground rules:
- This isn’t your space. Sure, this sounds harsh, but Pride events are safe spaces for LGBTQ people because the world has been (and often still is) a hostile place. And because basically every other space that’s ever existed has been designed for, and occupied by, straight people. Be respectful of the people who Pride is actually for, take a backseat and enjoy the atmosphere.
- Be a good ally. It’s unlikely that anyone will cause trouble at a Pride event, but if you see anyone being abusive towards participants, it’s your chance to step in (provided, of course, that you feel safe). Taking on the burden of emotional labour for your queer pals so that they can enjoy their day is a great way to acknowledge your straight privilege.
- Take the spirit of Pride with you. So, you’ve had a great day, a drag queen dropped a pot of glitter on your head and you drank enough cans of G&T to sedate a small grizzly bear - but what next? Make it your aim to challenge transphobia, homophobia and general discrimination wherever you see it in your day-to-day life.
Question: What should a straight person wear to pride?
Chinos and a button-down Ralph Lauren shirt (for guys) or a sensible breton top and skinny jeans (for the ladies). Just kidding! Wear whatever the heck you want, and feel free to incorporate the rainbow into your outfit. Glitter is basically compulsory. The only thing we’d advise is that you stick with the standard rainbow, and don't branch out into specific flags/colour schemes.
Question: What do I do if someone hits on me at Pride?
Unsurprisingly, queer people feel pretty comfortable hitting on people that catch their eye at Pride, because there’s simply more of a chance you'll meet someone who’s of the same sexual orientation as you. An apologetic “Sorry, I’m straight” is the only answer you need to give, because it’s true! Take the compliment gracefully, hot stuff.
Question: Are there any things I definitely shouldn’t do?
Yes, obviously. Here’s a list of Pride no-nos:
- Don’t use homophobic language. Yes, that means you can’t yell “don’t be such a f*g” at your mate, or call anyone a “tranny”.
- Don’t try and guess people’s gender. Transgender and non-binary people are not there for your entertainment, and it’s none of your beeswax what gender (or birth-assigned gender) people are.
- Don’t take photos of strangers without asking for permission. It’s invasive, impolite and may cause repercussions in the subject’s personal or professional life if said photo started doing the rounds on social media.
- Don’t be creepy. Don’t ask lesbians if they want a threesome with you (a question which should be punishable by being forced to eat nothing but Skittles for three weeks). Don’t stare intently at the crotches of men in fluorescent g-strings. Just try and be a normal human being.
- Don’t bring up the concept of ‘straight pride’. Nobody cares.
So, there you have it, the straight person’s guide to Pride. Don a pair of rainbow sunglasses, grab your sunscreen and have fun.
The Pride in London Parade takes place on Saturday 7th July from 12pm. Find out more here.
Sofie Penn-Slater on 13 June 2018