Chipman, a small village in my home province of New Brunswick, is in the headlines today because officials approved the raising of a “straight pride” flag next to a main road.
“Chipman resident Glenn Bishop and 11 others met over the past few months to find ways to show support for straight people.” –Global News
Interesting, I didn’t know that people in New Brunswick were in need of support for …being straight?
The flag was swiftly taken down amidst backlash, and although the town claims that the flag was intended to show support for “all groups in the community” I fail to understand how that is possible, unless it was a decision made from ignorance.
Pride for what?
“Straight pride” flags are at best completely unnecessary and at worst incredibly offensive symbols of hatred towards LGBTQ+ people.
LGBTQ+ communities have pride parades and raise pride flags because they are coming together, not only as a positive celebration of who they are, but also to take a stand against the discrimination, prejudice, unequal rights, and violence that they are subjected to just for being themselves.
If your response to seeing a pride flag is to feel excluded and think “where’s my straight pride flag?” you are totally missing the point of the pride flag. Pride flags are used worldwide as a bold visual symbol that says “we’re not ashamed of who we are” in a world that still positions straight, cisgender people as the apparent default way to exist.
If, like the man behind the aforementioned flag, you don’t get why “straight pride” flags are unnecessary and offensive, here are some reasons:
Straight, cisgendered people are not shamed for being straight.
Neither their sexuality nor their gender are perceived by the public as remarkable traits of their identity.
They aren’t screamed at in the street for holding their girlfriend’s hand.
They aren’t denied the opportunity to take their boyfriend to prom.
They aren’t approached at the bar and told “you’re a waste of a perfectly fine girl”.
Nor are they targeted, profiled, denied rights and privileges, attacked or murdered because of their sexuality or gender.
When “straight pride” flags are flown, they carry a toxic message: “I don’t care/believe that these things happen to you, I’m important too, look at MY flag!”.
“Straight pride” flags are arrogant, as they were created in direct response to pride flags as a way to claim “it’s just equality!” while simultaneously overlooking the reason why we need pride flags in the first place- people (not straight people!) are being attacked solely because of who they love and who they are.
While the mayor of Chipman recently said that no formal apology was forthcoming, I think that further shows that the people behind this flag, and those who claim not to understand why it is controversial, are in need of education on this matter.
Note: Making threats, hurling insults, and jumping on an internet hate train are NOT effective or ethical ways to educate people. Please don’t do that. Rather, consider sharing information and statistics about LGBTQ+ realities , contacting officials in Chipman, and showing support to your local LGBTQ+ group(s).
I hope that the village of Chipman will learn from this experience and grow together as a community. I agree with recommendations that were shared by the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP), a sibling to Moncton’s River of Pride:
“NSRAP strongly encourages the town council and mayor of Chipman to seek training on diversity and inclusion and sensitivity training to attempt to understand the lives of their marginalized constituents. Additionally, a formal apology, beyond the previously released statement, should be made.”