This lawmaker wanted a 'Straight Pride Month.' But it backfired — big time.

In late June, folks in Dixon, California, woke to an eye-opening op-ed in their local newspaper.

It was a "Ted Talk" (so to speak) that few residents were asking for.

In an edition of his column "That's Life," Vice Mayor Ted Hickman penned an essay calling for July to be celebrated as "SPAM" — Straight Pride American Month.

Seriously.



And yes, his essay — a rebuke to the LGBTQ Pride Month recognized every June — was as homophobic as you'd expect.


"Now hundreds of millions of the rest of us can celebrate our month, peaking on July 4th, as healthy, heterosexual, fairly monogamous, keep our kinky stuff to ourselves, Americans," Hickman wrote in the nonsensical essay, which, as of writing, can still be read on his website. "We do it with our parades in every state and county in this country with families celebrating together" [emphasis in original].

Also, LGBTQ people are "fairies" who only march in Pride parades for the attention, according to the vice mayor.

He continued, saying that "we honor our country and our veterans who have made all of this possible (including for the tinker bells) and we can do it with actual real pride, not some put on show just to help our inferior complex 'show we are different' type of crap."

So ... where to begin?

Hickman's op-ed clearly displays an abhorrent amount of homophobia. But "Straight Pride" wasn't his creation. The slogan has been used by some social conservatives since at least the 1980s.  

Many Twitter users have rallied around #HeterosexualPrideDay the past few years, causing the hashtag to trend on social media and setting off a debate around its relevance.

In June, some irked Red Sox fans questioned why the team didn't celebrate a "Straight Night" after the club's logo was painted in rainbow colors in honor of LGBTQ Pride. Pop over to Facebook, and you may even be able to find a (totally unironic) "Straight Pride" event in your neck of the woods.

Just to say it: We don't celebrate "Straight Pride Month" for the same reasons we don't celebrate "White Heritage Month" or "Men's History Month."

Privileged groups don't need a day (or week or month) to reflect on their humanity and history because our culture celebrates their humanity and history every day.

If you're straight (or cisgender, or male, or white, or abled, or Christian), that's great! But those parts of your identity haven't been systemically oppressed, like the identities of those — and many other — marginalized groups.

LGBTQ people, for instance, still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and other aspects of life. So it's not surprising that they report higher rates of mental illness and attempt suicide more frequently. Family rejection helps explains why up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.

When alarming figures like that no longer exist, maybe "Straight Pride" can be on the table. (But probably not.)

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.

The good news is, many residents in Dixon — and across the state — are not impressed with Hickman's antics.

And the backlash has been swift and furious.

Dixon City Councilman Devon Minnema posted a statement on Facebook shortly after Hickman's essay was published by The Independent Voice, calling the op-ed "deeply disturbing" and encouraging the council to act.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT: The positions of Councilman Hickman published in yesterday’s Independent Voice are deeply...

Posted by City Councilman Devon Minnema on Saturday, June 30, 2018

Rick Zbur, the executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality California, is urging Hickman to resign.

"Despite all the progress we've made, hate and intolerance are alive and well in fringe politicians like Mr. Hickman who spew hateful rhetoric in an attempt to dehumanize members of our LGBTQ community," Zbur said in a statement. "Mr. Hickman's words have no place in our society — especially at a time when our nation is already so divided and studies show hate crimes are on the rise."

A "Recall Ted Hickman" Facebook group has been launched, and as of this writing, has attracted over 1,500 supporters. It's also organizing a city council protest demanding Hickman step down.

"As a straight person I certainly feel no pride in having anything in common with unfunny Hickman," one supporter wrote. "Shame on him."

You may be proud to be straight, vice mayor — but it sounds like many people in Dixon aren't very proud to call you their own.

More
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

Keep Reading Show less
Innovation