Where The Straight Pride Exhibit At?

There is, as they say, always one.

At an LGBT history exhibit in a local museum, sticky-notes and pens were offered for people to post up their own thoughts and experiences.

Which of course means:

In this case, this is the one there always is.

“Where’s the Straight Pride exhibit?” complains the straight person surrounded by an entire exhibit explaining exactly why there isn’t, and doesn’t need to be, a Straight Pride exhibit.

For the record, the exhibit in question isn’t actually a Pride event: it’s an exhibition of stories from and about LGBT+ people, and how law and society have discriminated against them in the past. Straight people generally haven’t been discriminated against for being straight — though of course this doesn’t mean they don’t, as individuals, get discriminated against for being members of other minority groups (Oh noes! Complicated intersectionality!).

Here’s the rub, though: it’s a foundation strategy of modern populist politics to make the privileged feel like victims. That way, they’ll nurture the resentment, even the hate, that populist ideologues need to harness for their support. So from the populist perspective, you can gain a lot of obedience and loyalty if you can make yourself the defender of the Ordinary Person™ — and you can only do that if you can make the Ordinary Person™ feel threatened.

One way to achieve this is to encourage zero-sum thinking: give people to believe that improving rights for marginalised groups must mean eroding their own. Supporting equal rights and respect for black people, for example, means that you hate white people and want to see them denied basic rights. It’s a zero-sum: there is, in this worldview, only a certain limited supply of rights to go around. Give them away to other people and there’s none left for you.

Seems ludicrous, right? Not to our Post-It Pundit up there: to them, an LGBT+ Pride event isn’t about securing rights and dignity for LGBT+ people, and celebrating progress already made. Instead, it’s about stripping rights from straight people. It’s about demeaning straight people, and marginalising them while LGBT+ people take all their rights.

Similarly, the #BlackLivesMatter movement needed to be met with #AllLivesMatter, because otherwise black people would get away with taking rights away from white people.

Whenever you see someone proclaiming that “It’s Okay To Be White”, you see this flawed, zero-sum thinking in action. They don’t grasp the idea that everyone benefits when human rights are improved. To them, nobody’s standing up for the white people. Nobody’s defending the poor, put-upon, historically and currently privileged majority, so that majority is obviously under threat. The #OkayToBeWhite crowd honestly do believe they’re threatened, and it scares them. And that makes them easier for charismatic populists to exploit and radicalise.

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