That's nice, blondie. And I say that while gritting my teeth.
However, I know a lot of people who DO have a problem. Like, for instance, the people in my own federal government who are literally trying, right now, to amend the connstitution to make sure that those of us who are queer do NOT have the equal rights everyone else does.
So, whether it seems so or not in your small corner of the universe, GLBT folks are an oppressed people, if by nothing else, by virtue of the fact that we do not have the same human rights legally (jin the US and many other countries) that people who are NOT queer do. That is the literal defintion of social oppression.
I'm going to put some snippets of history in here for you from a recent piece I did on why Pride festivals and activites ARE needed (it is lengthy):
1600's: A soldier in Montreal charged with sodomy, "the worst of crimes," is commuted from his sentence on the condition that he become New France's first executioner (nice: your punishment for being queer is that you get to be a federally-sanctioned murderer). In the US settlement at Plymouth, two married young women are charged with "lewd behavior... upon a bed," and the elder of the two is required to acknowledge publicly her unchaste behavior and receives a warning that "if there are any subsequent carriages, her punishment will be greater." In New Netherland, a man is executed by drowning for sodomy. Geneva official Pierre Canal, arrested for high treason and attempted homicide, confesses under torture to being a homosexual and implicates more than twenty other men. Canal is broken on the wheel for treason, and burned for sodomy. Three more of the men he named are drowned as well. Sodomy is included in the US colonies laws as a capital crime.
1700's: The Dutch Sodomite Massacre, in which at least 24 boys were executed; English and French persecution of gay men result in over 600 executed. Deborah Sampson, a descendent of Gov. William Bradford, is excommunicated from her church for “dressing in men's clothes” and for behaving “very loose and unchristian like." The Manchu Qing government enacts a male rape law and for the first time in Chinese history outlaws sodomy between consenting males.
1800's: The last known execution for sodomy in the Netherlands was in the early 1800's, while In England, there are more executions for sodomy than for murder during this time. "Gross indecency" - any sexual touching between men - is made illegal in England, but Leaves of Grass is published, capital punishment for sodomy is removed within the States, and in 1896, "for the first time on the American stage, two women hug and kiss in a scene of the play A Florida Enchantment. Though the play is not lesbian in content, the scene is so controversial that at intermission, ushers offer ice water to any audience member who feels faint."
1900's: Emma Goldman lectures on homosexuality during her speaking tour of the US, Havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter found the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, emphasizing an educational approach, and with a special homosexual subcommittee, and the state of Illinois founds the Society for Human Rights, dedicated to "promote and protect the interests" of people who, because of "mental and physical abnormalities" are hindered in the pursuit of happiness (the first attempt to found a homosexual rights organization in the US). Ar the same time, Hollywood studios' Motion Picture Production Code prohibits all references to homosexuality in the movies, the U.S. military issues official prohibition against homosexuals in the armed forces, the American Psychiatric Association adds homosexuality to its list of mental disorders, and -- very discordant to the stance of the ACLU now -- the ACLU adopts a national policy statement that sustains the constitutionality of state sodomy laws and federal security regulations denying employment to gay men and lesbians, but reverses the policy in 1964.
As well, in 1970, the American Psychiatric Association decides that homosexuality should no longer be classified as a mental disorder. In 1971, NOW finally decides to let lesbians in (and not shortly after, Rita Mae Brown's -- who was one of the dykes kept at the gates by NOW -- Rubyfruit Jungle is published). In the 80's, the San Francisco Health Department closes fourteen gay bathhouses after investigators uncover high-risk sexual behavior in them (imagine how many cheap motels and high schools one would have to do same to to try and limit the high-risk behaviour of straights), but Delta Airlines apologizes for arguing in plane crash litigation that it should pay less in compensation for the life a gay passenger than for a heterosexual one because he may have had AIDS, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals awards guardianship of Sharon Kowalski, a lesbian severely injured in a car crash, to her lover, Karen Thompson, over the objections of Kowalski's parents. In the 90's to now, we saw major corporations adding partner benefits, the WHO removing homosexuality from its list of diseases (that was only ten years ago), the Clinton administration amending military policy in regard to homosexuality (not great, but hey, better), gay marriage rights added to some states and countries, the overturning of the Sodomy law in Texas last week, and hate crimes legislation introduced, and yet we also saw a bill that would have banned employment discrimination against gay men and lesbians defeated, and Clinton signing the defense of marriage act. And we all see entirely too much of Fred Phelps and his ilk.
The long and the short of all that ? We've come a long way, but we've still got a long way to go. Something like Pride lets all of us bring issues like this to light, lets us fuse the personal and the political, but lets us also have a day or two where we can publicly enjoy and express all the simple -- and sometimes hard-won or not-won-yet -- joys of your sexual and personal lives. It lets us remember and celebrate that a lot of us are lucky as hell to be able to do that -- even if it should be more than luck, but our right -- no matter our orientation, sexual or gender identity. It enables us to banish shame and have some pride. Pride, as a word, is the literal opposite of shame. The reason we don't see 'straight pride" festivals is that no one is, nor has EVER, shamed, through actions, laws, the works, heterosexual people simply for being heterosexual. That histopy listed above? You won't see ANYTHING like it for heterosexuals, anywhere. In short, the culture we live in already has heterosexual pride every day of the year.
We don't want "special privledges." We want the same *rights* and privledges straight people have. Like the right not be be discriminated against in our workplaces because of the gender of who we're datuing. Like the right to legally marry. Like the right to have lifelong partners included on our health insurance. Like the right not to be assaulted on the street for holding our date's hand.
As well, African-Amercians had to fight long and hard to get civil rights in place (and not alone -- my father, with many, many others worked hard within the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's, and got beaten more than once by our own police for doing so nonviolently), and even with that done, it's still not really applied in full as it should be. It should also be mentioned that many african-americans have the same "culture" you do. They are not getting "special privledges" because of their color, and if you think that most african-americans in this country are doing better financially than most whites, you're making clear that you are incredibly uneducated when it comes to socioeconomics, in the US and in Canada, and certainly globally.
So, you know what? What you're saying is beyond patently offensive, all around. It's flagrantly uninformed and insular and tokenist. Before you start talking about who is oppressed and who isn't again, I'd sincerely suggest you do some study and research on the matter, starting perhaps with understanding what oppression IS in the first place, something you clearly haven't a handle on. Paolo Friere's "The Pedagogy of the Oppressed," might be a good place to start.
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen
My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson
[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 07-18-2003).]