No, Craig, You Don't Need To Know Where To Buy A Straight Pride Flag
By Jack O'Dwyer
It wasn’t until recently that I finally understood why people decide to take breaks from social media. Ever since I was young, I have always been obsessed with being “tuned-in”. I would watch the daily news endlessly -- both local and national -- and for some reason I found comfort where others would find anxiety. I felt cut off and trapped in bubble without CNN and NY1 at the tips of my fingers. I needed to know what was going on at all times. This rapidly evolved into keeping at least four distinct news apps on my phone. Despite the US’ nauseatingly appalling current events, I still enjoy seeing notifications from BBC every few hours. There’s something about having relevant, global knowledge whenever I need it that I find soothing.
I love feeling involved in the world around me to a fault - and it looks like I found that fault. I’m no stranger to the horrors of the internet and its echo chambers lurking in personality quiz comment sections. Recently, every visit to my newsfeed is a contest amongst its inhabitants over which issue is going to make it into my daily phone call with my girlfriend.
So, let’s talk about straight pride.
Do you remember when you were younger and a friend of yours got hurt, so they got a really cool band-aid and some candy? Then, some other asshole kid threw a fit because they didn’t get the band-aid or candy because they were totally fine? Yet, despite it being explained to them and despite the physical evidence in front of their eyes, they refused to let up. The tantrum continued -- loudly. That’s essentially what straight pride is. It’s this weird inability to bypass the preoperational stage of development’s egocentrism combined with an innate disdain for any level of sociological learning. They aren’t interested in figuring out why things are the way they are or how to better the situation at hand. The only thing that matters is that they also get a dinosaur band-aid and some jolly ranchers.
You can almost see the indignant spirit of a six-year-old boy crossing his arms and pouting because he didn’t get to go home early, too. Look at how easily he overlooks every piece of much needed equity and cries out “It’s not fair!” (only this time, he says “special treatment” in pretty much the same tone). Imagine dying to be oppressed so badly that you ignore the fact that people literally died under this oppression. Additionally, by trying to lay claim to a struggle that either isn’t yours or doesn’t even exist, you completely invalidate the experiences and emotions of those around you. You haven’t lived through the things that make the band-aid necessary. It isn’t your turn to get one -- and trust me, you aren’t missing out.
There’s this obsession with trying to break off a piece of discrimination and hardship in a desperate attempt to seem worldly or, I guess, to be included in the mysterious birthday party where it’s legal to get fired for attending. In fact, that might be the misconception right there. I understand that the neon fluorescent lights and glitter haze might seem like the biggest block party in the world, but you don’t want an invitation. Thanks to my recent social media timeline, I think there must have been some kind of miscommunication about why we actually have things like Pride. Let’s go over that.
Pride is not a giant party where the whole community gets together for a nationwide barbeque where hate crimes don’t happen and we all sing Kumbaya. It’s not about “everyone is the same!! Let’s party!!” and the fight for rights is over. The fight for rights is far from over until the gay panic defense is repealed nationwide. Pride is, was, and always will be a riot. It is a live, constant protest to shout to the world that no matter the injustice that is wrought on our heads for existing, we will do just that. We will exist. We will prevail. There is no amount the world can bury us under to keep us from shouting out. We are here, we are queer, and we show no fear. Pride is a statement born from the need to combat old discrimination kept alive. It shows that no matter what, we are watching.
In times like this, watching is one of the most powerful tools we have. Applying external pressure is powerful, but pressure without numbers is difficult to create. What sucks the most about something like this is that I can’t throw statistics at a person to make them care about this. Sure, I can say that violence against LGBT+ individuals is not only still prevalent, but pretty much no where near disappearing -- especially against POCs and/or trans folks. I can say that LGBT+ youth is at a higher risk of bullying, suicide, mental illness, etc. There are plenty of articles I can pull up -- or can’t, since apparently violence against us is so commonplace they don’t even bother to publish names anymore. My real problem is that I can’t give anybody empathy. I can’t explain to someone why they should care about someone else. I can’t open up my flip book of names that people don’t bother to publish or show pictures of the missing and broken. I can’t make you care about other humans beings if you’re already asking for a reason.
And that’s why you don’t need to know where to get a straight pride flag. Be glad you never needed it.