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.
Ted Hickman should be ashamed for sharing such an awful message... Dixon, CA needs to do better. A LOT better https://t.co/WzIp5pU80r— andres (@andres)1530371684.0
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.
About that hashtag: In red are all the countries where it's illegal to be heterosexual. 😔💔 #HeterosexualPrideDay https://t.co/kolMizsg9U— Andrew Curry (@Andrew Curry)1467260760.0
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.
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."
"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.