Price of pride
author: annie trussler | op-ed editor
With identity comes sacrifice, and sacrifices are rarely offered willingly.
I try not to live my life on a foundation of clinical facts, but there are handfuls that I cannot dispute. I am a Libra. I am five foot three. I am a lesbian. It is those facts, and choice others that I choose to be the basis of my identity – that which I own, that which cannot be taken from me. With identity comes sacrifice, and sacrifices are rarely offered willingly. In fact, many sacrifices should not need to be made in the first place. Forty-nine lives, for example, should not be surrendered for sharing the same identity with me.
These are the clinical facts. In June of 2016, forty-nine LGBT clubbers were shot down in an Orlando gay bar. The man who perpetrated this crime was a notorious homophobe, though that might go without saying; in response to this tragedy, an unfortunate number of heterosexual people attempted to promote the hashtag #StraightPrideMonth. I will not report this occurrence based solely on facts. I am horrified, I am afraid, and I am repulsed.
I originally began this paragraph with something along the lines of, “not that I hate straight people…” but, I realized that sentiment was not the point of this piece. To the straight people who chose to take away Pride Month from a grieving community who already faces such violent prejudice in daily life, I am appalled; and to those who dare retaliate to our grief with the demand for attention for the majority, shame. “Heterosexuals are killed, too,” yes, but never for their orientation. “You already won the right to marriage!” and still, we die for our freedom.
I also considered censoring myself for the purposes of this article. I thought to myself: I should attempt to avoid offending anyone. They need not know my personal connection. Again, this is a thought I dispelled. I am a lesbian woman. I have had enough. Consider the divisions in the world in present day: this is no simple task, as the divides in the human race are plentiful and run deeply, but take a moment to contemplate the divide in sexual orientation. Consider the portrayal of sexuality in media – straight characters, murdered lesbians, bisexual abuse victims made into the villains of their tragedies (and, no, I will not apologize to Johnny Depp fans). Media is not reality, you say. Disputable, I respond, but a fair point. Consider, then, suicide rates. In a study done by Saewyc in 2007, it is known that “33 per cent of LGB[T] youth have attempted suicide in comparison to 7 per cent of youth in general.”
Those are just numbers, you might say; how can they apply to reality? Easily. Consider the deaths of LGBT people that come about at their own hands, and then add to it the death tolls of murder, assassinations, and public assault. Consider Harvey Milk, who died strictly due to his orientation. Consider the closeted LGBT youth who are now too terrified by a lone gunman to ever come to peace with themselves. Then, if you can bear it, consider the straight people vindictive enough to dismiss these facts, these feelings, and suggest heterosexuality is threatened over them.
Here is another clinical fact: you are not targeted for being straight. You, should you be reading this, and should you be heterosexual, are not victimized for your orientation. Straight people will never suffer for their sexuality. Straight, like orange, is the new black, the old black, the everyday, the always. Heterosexuality is applauded, reinforced, funded, and protected. Straight pride month is every month of the calendar, and it has been that way for as long as the twelve-month year has existed. #StraightPrideMonth, #AllLivesMatter, are both cries for attention to be returned to the majority, away from the murdered minority. You are not being robbed, heterosexual public. You are not being killed. You are living, and to live, you must share – share resources, share air, share compassion.
Many of our graves have been dug before our time. Many step into them by their own hands, while the barrel of a gun shoves others in. With this outcry of straight voices over the strained tears of the LGBT, heterosexuals stand before these graves, desperately proclaiming, “Yes, I will die one day, too!” Not today. Not soon. Not because of who you choose to love. You will die at your time, at peace, next to family, next to friends, not forgotten, nor abandoned, nor desecrated in a place of safety. Consider the facts. Consider who writes them.