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How to Be a Straight Ally on Pride 

Wednesday, Jun 24 2015

Another June, another momentous Supreme Court decision, another giant pink triangle on Twin Peaks — it's Pride, baby. The Gayest City in the Galaxy loves to celebrate even when the temperature might not exceed 58 degrees, and it's going to be a time.

In that vein, if I may take a moment to speak on behalf of the entire LGBT community — always a risky proposition — thank you, straight allies. We couldn't have come nearly this far without you. With that said, Pride is always going to be a day for non-straight people to flaunt what they've got. So here some ways of being the best heterosexual Pride celebrant you can possibly be.

1. Don't do anything awful.

This one sounds as obvious as the sixth commandment's prohibition against murdering people, but last year, some jerkfaces assaulted several Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at Pink Saturday and ruined everything. Please, don't get shooty, stabby, or punchy. If you must get violent, bring a life-size cardboard Ann Coulter cutout and invite people to kick her around. You'll make friends.

2. Don't lose every last shred of inhibition.

Pride is a big fun party, and it could probably benefit from being even more like Mardi Gras, but don't get so drunk that you're throwing up behind Bill Graham. In the shadow of oppression and HIV/AIDS, there is and always will be a solemn, mournful aspect to Pride, so keep it in mind.

3. If you run into someone you didn't know was gay/trans/an occasional gender performer, don't pretend you didn't see them.

Even in 2015 San Francisco, not everybody's out. And even if they're open, they might just be expressing themselves in ways they wouldn't think of when you knew them from your last office job. Still, it takes two to make it awkward, so always err on the side of saying hi to Bob from Accounting when he's got boobs now. You will only validate his courage.

4. Don't indiscriminately tweet "Free Street Party!!!"

Pink Saturday was arguably loved to death, and feelings are still raw. Be judicious about mass texts and social media if it feels like a party is swelling out of control and slipping away from the community that started it.

5. Don't presume all gay men just love to be touched, Instagrammed, and screamed at.

Just because some people got up before dawn to look like an exotic species of bird doesn't mean they're communal property. Drag queens love attention, and two people smooching might be making a political statement, but it never hurts to ask to take their picture. And honey, you're going to get polyps on your vocal cords if you shout "Woo!" for five straight hours.

6. Go to Frameline.

Even if you've been best friends with a lesbian since kindergarten, there's still plenty to learn. (Most LGBT people have plenty to learn about LGBT culture, in fact.) The Frameline Film Festival is the greatest entry point for gaining greater wisdom about the enormous diversity of LGBT people worldwide, and it's always fun.

7. Brush up on some terminology.

It's okay to call someone "queer" or a "dyke" in a positive context or if that's what they call themselves. But it's less okay to throw the word "tranny" around. (Many gay men need this lesson reinforced, too.). Got pronoun confusion? Just ask — and remember, it's "transgender," not "transgendered."

8. Have a great time!

The boundary between spectator and participant is a porous one, so throw yourself in. Wear bright colors. Smile at ugly naked people. Graciously accept fliers for parties you'd never, ever go to. Hug and be hugged. LGBT rights are human rights, and not just in the hollow-liberal-piety way. They've been good for everybody. Have you ever noticed that straight men can express affection more now that they don't have to worry so much about people calling them "homos"? Or that non-gender-specific bathrooms are proliferating? We did these things together, and now it's time to party. Happy Pride, everybody!

More From Your Pride Guide:

Your Pride Guide Intro
By Peter Lawrence Kane

Laverne Cox is Everywhere
By Peter Lawrence Kane

Faerie Freedom Village
By Peter Lawrence Kane

Transparent Policing: Law Targets Anti-Trans Harassment
By Julia Carrie Wong

Profiles: Activist Mahnani Clay
By Giselle Velazquez

About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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