As one of the handful of people who (briefly) attended the straight pride event Sunday, I feel compelled to report back.
Not because the demonstration behind the Ontario legislature merits news coverage or in any way represents the city’s straight population – I assure you, it does not – but because someone needs to bear witness to the mentality of those who still feel strongly opposed to homosexuality. They exist and, crazy as they are, political power is not far from their reach.
Judging by the 40-some people who attended, these straight pride folks are odd ducks. The ones who weren’t part of the rent-a-crowd have obviously spent many hours thinking, reading and talking about homosexuality. What’s remarkable is their inability to develop their half-baked notions into something that makes any sense, even from a conservative perspective.
A superhero-costumed organizer in his 20s told me “we’re about family and we’re proud to be straight.” A woman with a dog said, “We need to have a representation of the 97 percent of the population that isn’t gay.” Her voice got passionate when she started talking about an AIDS educator she had heard about at a school and how a straight teacher would get fired if he started talking in class about having sex with his wife.
Paul Blair, an affable man who was giving out brochures from the rightwing libertarian Freedom Party, said things to me like, “I’ll admit I was born this way. It’s nothing you need to be proud of. But I don’t think you’re born gay….” Then he went on and on about how a “little stroking, a little touching” can turn a boy queer, and how even trees are sexually exciting to adolescent boys (which I suppose accounts for the decline of herbosexuality in industrial urban societies).
A bearded man with kind eyes told me straight people were asleep at the wheel when it came to the homosexual agenda to destroy the family.
I don’t have to spell out the many flaws in these statements. Every time one of these polite and unassuming people opened their mouths, my gut reaction was to argue. That makes no sense at all! You’re contradicting yourself! Someone’s made that up!
But then I realized that even if I was willing to spend days on a desert island talking with these folks, they’d neither see my point of view, nor would they even be able to muster a better position for themselves. Their arguments aren’t logical; they’re emotional. They’re not incapable of putting two and two together; they’ve refused in their hearts to do so.
Statistics tell us that once religious doctrine has been tossed aside or more liberally interpreted, rational arguments against homosexuality dissolve. In a dogma-free zone, there’s no reason not to flaunt your sexuality (or, in the case of the many straight people at our community’s Pride parade, watch others flaunt it).
Motivated by something other than logic – Emotional hurt? Pure self-righteous spite? Jealousy? Bad homo experiences in their past? A mean gay uncle? – our straight pride protesters have assembled half-baked blusterings to give content to their feelings. But their failure to create a rational argument against queers hasn’t stopped them.
They’re increasingly finding a voice in the Canadian Alliance (formerly Reform), a party which uses the words “social conservatism” to mean anti-abortion, anti-gay and, just to round things out, anti-gun control. Social conservatism is also a code for wanting to force your sexual values on others, which is why we’re seeing the strange coalition of rightwing Christians and rightwing Muslims who disagree on most everything except the suppression of women and sex.
This week we see Preston Manning – not famous for his progressive views – criticizing his Alliance leadership rival Stockwell Day for being too hardcore on gay and women’s issues. Day, handsome and affable, is the front-runner.
Ideas don’t have to make sense, and they don’t have to march down Yonge St, to gain momentum.
Paul Gallant is Features Editor for Xtra.