Straight Pride: finally, someone is standing up for the oppressed heterosexual majority

"Coming out as heterosexual in today's politically correct world is an extremely challenging experience," claims a new lobbying group. Perhaps it is . . . in Opposite Land.

I remember quite distinctly coming out to my family, as I am sure every gay man does. Not wishing to bore you with the details, let me condense the experience. My sisters responded with “yeah, and?” My mother went around the house for a month hunched in the approximate shape of a question mark, muttering “what did I do? what did I say to make you like this?”

My father was more enterprising; he chased me around the house with a pair of scissors in order to cut my hair, presumably believing my long locks to be the source of my desire for other men, as if I were some sort of Gay Samson. An aunt, a woman built like a filing cabinet and with about as much compassion, sat me down and tried to convince me to find a nice girl, have a family and engage in my “hobby” discreetly. Ironically, some years later I discovered that her husband had similar hobbies.

I have a less clear memory of my sisters coming out as straight. Perhaps because it never happened. Some of their boyfriends were introduced, some were not, some were liked, some were not, weddings happened, grandchildren, the odd divorce. So, when I read on Straight Pride UK's Facebook page that, apparently, “coming out as heterosexual in today's politically correct world is an extremely challenging experience” which is “often distressing and evokes emotions of fear, relief, pride and embarrassment”, I was left a little baffled.

Maybe I came from a really modern family. Maybe in other families when a son tells his father he likes girls, the father chases him around the house trying to effect an impromptu effete coiffure to turn him gay. Maybe Straight Pride UK are utterly deluded. Or maybe it is all a massive wind-up. I am still holding some hope it is just that - an elaborate prank, but it is looking increasingly elaborate and so increasingly unlikely. So, I read on.

“Homosexuals have more rights than any sector of society.” That's right, privileged black lesbian on minimum wage. Stop grumbling, transsexual teacher hounded by tabloid papers. And you too, slightly delicate kid, leaving school before last period under some pretext to avoid another beating - quit your kvetching. You all have more rights than, say – ooh – a white, straight rich man. Want to know why? Because you have “the right to take over city streets, dress ridiculously, and parade with danger and contempt”.

Blogger Oliver Hotham tried to elucidate some of these matters, with the good folks at Straight Pride UK. The result was a press release which was then retracted and Hotham threatened with legal action. You can read it here, if you can bear truly, mind-numbingly awful grammar. “Straight Pride admire President Vladimir Putin of Russia for his stance and support of his country’s traditional values”, they explain in said release. “Straight Pride support what Russia and Africa is doing, these country have morals and are listening to their majorities.” (Surely, that should be Russia and Bongobongoland.)

A screenshot from the Straight Pride website.

 

So, there you have it, in a nutshell. Apparently, people being beaten, tortured and murdered, for no reason other than their sexual orientation, is this group's idea of "pride" in being straight. Obliquely, they also assert their inalienable right to use no punctuation whatsoever and capitalise things like The Homosexual Agenda, the Pink Mafia, and Anything Else That Might Sound Dramatic. 

They are recruiting, if you are interested “and are a straight, married, single heterosexual”. Consider their invitation carefully. “Being heterosexual is the 'default setting' for the human race and the only moral and natural way that the human race can continue to grow and evolve.” What we, the Pink Mafia, must not do, is respond to this as if it somehow represents the feelings of some community. Other than a community of people used as extras in the film Deliverance, it really does not.

We will evolve, with the help and solidarity of our enlightened straight brothers and sisters. But we will continue to do so in the opposable thumb direction, if that's okay with you, Straight Pride UK.

"The Pink Mafia", otherwise known as a gay pride march. Photo: Getty

Greek-born, Alex Andreou has a background in law and economics. He runs the Sturdy Beggars Theatre Company and blogs here You can find him on twitter @sturdyalex

Garry Knight via Creative Commons
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Why Barack Obama was right to release Chelsea Manning

A Presidential act of mercy is good for Manning, but also for the US.

In early 2010, a young US military intelligence analyst on an army base near Baghdad slipped a Lady Gaga CD into a computer and sang along to the music. In fact, the soldier's apparently upbeat mood hid two facts. 

First, the soldier later known as Chelsea Manning was completely alienated from army culture, and the callous way she believed it treated civilians in Iraq. And second, she was quietly erasing the music on her CDs and replacing it with files holding explosive military data, which she would release to the world via Wikileaks. 

To some, Manning is a free speech hero. To others, she is a traitor. President Barack Obama’s decision to commute her 35-year sentence before leaving office has been blasted as “outrageous” by leading Republican Paul Ryan. Other Republican critics argue Obama is rewarding an act that endangered the lives of soldiers and intelligence operatives while giving ammunition to Russia. 

They have a point. Liberals banging the drum against Russia’s leak offensive during the US election cannot simultaneously argue leaks are inherently good. 

But even if you think Manning was deeply misguided in her use of Lady Gaga CDs, there are strong reasons why we should celebrate her release. 

1. She was not judged on the public interest

Manning was motivated by what she believed to be human rights abuses in Iraq, but her public interest defence has never been tested. 

The leaks were undoubtedly of public interest. As Manning said in the podcast she recorded with Amnesty International: “When we made mistakes, planning operations, innocent people died.” 

Thanks to Manning’s leak, we also know about the Vatican hiding sex abuse scandals in Ireland, plus the UK promising to protect US interests during the Chilcot Inquiry. 

In countries such as Germany, Canada and Denmark, whistle blowers in sensitive areas can use a public interest defence. In the US, however, such a defence does not exist – meaning it is impossible for Manning to legally argue her actions were in the public good. 

2. She was deemed worse than rapists and murderers

Her sentence was out of proportion to her crime. Compare her 35-year sentence to that received by William Millay, a young police officer, also in 2013. Caught in the act of trying to sell classified documents to someone he believed was a Russian intelligence officer, he was given 16 years

According to Amnesty International: “Manning’s sentence was much longer than other members of the military convicted of charges such as murder, rape and war crimes, as well as any others who were convicted of leaking classified materials to the public.”

3. Her time in jail was particularly miserable 

Manning’s conditions in jail do nothing to dispel the idea she has been treated extraordinarily harshly. When initially placed in solitary confinement, she needed permission to do anything in her cell, even walking around to exercise. 

When she requested treatment for her gender dysphoria, the military prison’s initial response was a blanket refusal – despite the fact many civilian prisons accept the idea that trans inmates are entitled to hormones. Manning has attempted suicide several times. She finally received permission to receive gender transition surgery in 2016 after a hunger strike

4. Julian Assange can stop acting like a martyr

Internationally, Manning’s continued incarceration was likely to do more harm than good. She has said she is sorry “for hurting the US”. Her worldwide following has turned her into an icon of US hypocrisy on free speech.

Then there's the fact Wikileaks said its founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the US if Manning was released. Now that Manning is months away from freedom, his excuses for staying in the Equadorian London Embassy to avoid Swedish rape allegations are somewhat feebler.  

As for the President - under whose watch Manning was prosecuted - he may be leaving his office with his legacy in peril, but with one stroke of his pen, he has changed a life. Manning, now 29, could have expected to leave prison in her late 50s. Instead, she'll be free before her 30th birthday. And perhaps the Equadorian ambassador will finally get his room back. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.