It is unclear, at time of writing, whether an application to stage America’s inaugural Straight Pride Parade on the streets of Boston will or will not be approved by City Hall. But the organisers must have been encouraged by the Mayor of Boston’s assertion that the city ‘cannot deny a permit for a public event because of an organisation’s values’. And there’s a good chance that even now, all over the great state of Massachusetts, men who’ve neglected their waistlines and wardrobes for decades are ironing chinos and buffing loafers in preparation for the big day – or at least asking their wives and girlfriends to do it for them.
I wonder if there is any significance in this choice of venue for such a milestone event. Boston is revered by Americans as the flashpoint for what they refer to as The Revolutionary War but Brits like me regard the same incident as nothing more than a bit of badly managed colonial insurrection. As a consequence of which I’ve never actually been there, and my impression of the city is derived entirely from Henry James novels and the TV series Cheers. In those two Bostons the absence of gay and lesbian characters is so conspicuous that it’s hard to think of it as a place where men and women of a binary disposition could be oppressed and vilified. But that must now be the case, otherwise fearless libertarian and underdog champion Milo Yiannopoulos would not have agreed to step into the Straight Pride Celebrity Patron breach after the organisers’ first choice, Brad Pitt, outed himself as heterophobic by threatening legal action if his name or face appeared on any merchandise.
Boston is not the only US city where the chromosomally conventional are feeling threatened. On a recent visit to Washington DC a dearth of hotel accommodation obliged me to shack up for a few days at the Army & Navy Club, the still point of what used to be the conservative hub of the nation’s capital. But today the same suburb is home to DC’s LGBTI community, and my visit happened to coincide with Gay Pride Week; an event which turns more or less the entire zipcode into a 24/7 rainbow rave. This explained not only why all the hotels were full, but also why the Army & Navy was virtually empty, and why the few members who were in residence (presumably having somehow failed to diarise major LGBTI events) shuffled about the place with a fugitive air and sat as far away from the windows as possible to sip their scotches and read their Wall St Journals. Like Custer at The Little Big Horn, these blazered, buttoned-down veterans of more recent conflicts seemed acutely aware that they were surrounded by thousands of glistening, semi-naked young men whooping for their scalps.
If Straight Pride ever applies to stage a parade in Sydney or Melbourne they would be well advised to appoint a different celebrity patron, Milo Yiannopoulos having already queered his pitch pretty comprehensively with the Morrison administration. They might also consider commissioning a local ad agency to make their messaging more sympathetic to the ‘quiet Australians’ to whom Mr Morrison gives so much credit for his election victory. I suspect the creative work I did for the Marriage Equality referendum will disqualify me from this gig, but I like a challenge so I’ve had a pro-bono think, and it seems to me that the challenge will be to depict Straightism as not so much a rival to LGBTI lifestyles, but as just another vilified and disadvantaged identity group which deserves our sympathy and acceptance. Instead of a regular rainbow as a logo, for example, they could have a straightened rainbow. And the slogans that accompany that logo might be just as inclusive: ‘L-G-B-T-I and Q: we are just as cross as you!’ And when it comes to a non-confrontational, uncontroversial rallying cry for the parade itself, how about this: ‘What do we want? The status quo! When do we want it? In perpetuity!’