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

Photo: Getty
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The Tories play Game of Thrones while the White Walkers from Brussels advance

The whole premise of the show is a pretty good metaphor for the current state of British politics.

If you’re a fan of asking “who’s that, then?” and “is that the one who killed the other one’s brother?”, I bring great news. Game of Thrones is back for a seventh series. Its vast assortment of characters was hard enough to keep track of before half of them got makeovers. But now the new Queen Cersei has reacted to the arrival of the long winter by investing heavily in the kind of leather ball gowns sold by goth shops in Camden, and Euron Greyjoy, once a fairly bland sailor, has come back as a Halloween costume version of Pacey from Dawson’s Creek, all eyeliner and epaulettes.

The show’s reliance on British character actors is the only thing keeping me vaguely on top of the cast list: what’s Diana Rigg up to these days in Highgarden? And what about that guy who was in Downton Abbey that time, who now has the scaly arms? (Luckily, the next thing I watched after the Game of Thrones series premiere was the first two episodes of the revived Twin Peaks, which put my confusion into perspective. There, Agent Cooper spent most of his time talking to a pulsating bladder attached to one of those fake trees you get from Ikea when your landlord won’t let you have real plants.)

The day-to-day business of Game of Thrones has always been power – answering the question of who will sit on the Iron Throne, forged by Aegon the Conqueror from the swords of his defeated enemies. But its backdrop is a far bigger threat: the arrival of a winter that will last many years, and the invasion of an army of the undead.

That might seem like an unkind way to think about Michel Barnier and his fellow Brexit negotiators – inexorably marching towards us, briefing papers in hand, while Liam Fox frantically rings a bell at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel – but nonetheless, the whole premise of Game of Thrones is a pretty good metaphor for the current state of British politics.

The current internal Conservative struggle for power might be vicious but it is at least familiar to its contestants; they know which weapons to deploy, which alliances are vital, who owes them a favour. Meanwhile, the true challenge facing every one of them is too frightening to contemplate.

In 2013, this magazine celebrated the early success of the show with a cover depicting one of our terrifying painted mash-ups: “The Tory Game of Thrones.” Our casting has been strangely vindicated. George Osborne was our Jaime Lannister – once the kind of uncomplicated bastard who would push a child out of a window but now largely the purveyor of waspish remarks about other, worse characters. Our Cersei was Theresa May, who spent the early seasons of The Cameron Era in a highly visible but underwritten role. Now, she has just seized power, only to discover herself beset by enemies on all sides. (Plus, Jeremy Corbyn as the High Sparrow would quite like her to walk penitently through the streets while onlookers cry “shame!”)

Michael Gove was our Tyrion Lannister, the kind of man who would shoot his own father while the guy was on the loo (or run a rival’s leadership campaign only to detonate it at the last minute). Jeremy Hunt was Jon Snow, slain by the brotherhood of the Night Shift at A&E, only in this case still waiting for resurrection.

The comparison falls down a bit at Boris Johnson as Daenerys Targaryen, as the former London mayor has not, to my knowledge, ever married a horse lord or hired an army of eunuchs, but it feels like the kind of thing he might do.

We didn’t have David Davis on there – hated by the old king, David Camareon, he was at the time banished to the back benches. Let’s retrospectively appoint him Euron Greyjoy, making a suspiciously seductive offer to Queen Cersei. (Philip Hammond is Gendry, in that most of the country can’t remember who he is but feel he might turn out to be important later.)

That lengthy list shows how Conservative infighting suffers from the same problem that the Game of Thrones screenwriters wrestle with: there are so many characters, and moving the pieces round the board takes up so much time and energy, that we’re in danger of forgetting why it matters who wins. In the books, there is more space to expound on the politics. George R R Martin once said that he came away from The Lord of The Rings asking: “What was Aragorn’s tax policy?” (The author added: “And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone – they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles?”)

Martin’s fantasy vision also feels relevant to the Tories because its power struggles aren’t about an “endless series of dark lords and their evil minions who are all very ugly and wear black clothes”. Instead, everyone is flawed. In Westeros, as in the Conservative Party, it can be difficult to decide who you want to triumph. Sure, Daenerys might seem enlightened, but she watched her brother have molten gold poured down his throat; plucky Arya Stark might tip over from adorable assassin into full-blown psychopath. Similarly, it’s hard to get worked up about the accusation that Philip Hammond said that driving a train was so easy “even a woman” could do it, when David Davis marked his last leadership campaign by posing alongside women in tight T-shirts reading “It’s DD for me”.

The only big difference from the show is that in real life I have sympathy for Barnier and the White Walkers of Brussels. Still, maybe it will turn out that the undead of Game of Thrones are tired of the Seven Kingdoms throwing their weight around and are only marching south to demand money before negotiating a trade deal? That’s the kind of plot twist we’re all waiting for.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder