By Melanie Woods, September 6 2016 —
As Calgary’s annual Pride Week wraps up in a flurry of rainbows, the city has already launched another marquee celebration of identity. The annual Calgary Straight Pride Parade kicked off literally the exact moment the Pride Parade ended.
“We’re really glad the LGBTQ community got their day,” organizer Joe Smith said. “I love Modern Family. But we need our time to celebrate too.”
Smith said organizers had to rush to clean up stray rainbow flags in time for the event.
“As soon as the blockades for the LGBTQ pride parade were taken down, we got ours up and running,” he said. “It’s usually a pretty smooth transition. Straight Pride doesn’t take a lot of effort — the city’s kind of constantly set up for it.”
The Straight Pride Parade will involve activities such as walking to work, taking the C-Train, buying groceries and getting stuck in traffic. Crosswalks in the city will be left painted white to commemorate the event. Organizers estimate over one million people — nearly the entire population of Calgary — will participate in some way or another.
Smith said the event will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week over the course of nearly an entire calendar year.
“You know — nine in 10 people are straight,” he said. “So we figured 364 out of 365 days in a year we should celebrate what being straight means and the daily oppressions we face.”
While issues like blood donation bans for gay men, gender expression in schools and marriage equality are brought to the forefront during LGBTQ Pride, Smith says straight people face unique conflicts too.
“Somebody once looked at me funny when I made out with my wife on the train,” Smith said. “That’s oppression and emblematic of the struggles straight people face day-to-day.”
Smith said this year’s Straight Pride will also feature gender-specific washrooms and film screenings with heterosexual romantic leads at popular theatres across the city.
“Sure, trans people want to pee wherever they feel comfortable,” Smith said. “But does anyone ever consider that I want to pee too?”
When told that gender-neutral washroom legislation won’t infringe on his ability to urinate, Smith
“Sure, maybe,” he said. “But frankly, people need to consider what we think, too. During Straight Pride, I promise you will hear the voices of straight people.”
Just as straight allies are welcome at LGBTQ Pride celebrates, Smith said LGBTQ people are welcome during Straight Pride.
“We welcome LGBTQ allies too,” he said. “I mean, we all love Ellen Degeneres. But don’t be too obvious about it, you know? I wore a rainbow for your day, you can wear clothing related to arbitrary constructs of gender the rest of the year, okay?”
Members of the University of Calgary club Heteros on Campus will also be involved.
“We don’t have any specific events,” HOC president Stacey Lougheed said. “We just kind of have our hands in the day-to-day workings of everything. The dozens of gender-segregated washrooms across the U of C? You have us to thank for that.”
Lougheed said she’s most looking forward to one of the signature events of Straight Pride — Valentine’s Day.
“I heard they were bringing in unnecessarily heteronormative greeting cards and maybe even a new film based on a trashy romance novel,” she said. “Representation matters.”
This article is part of our humour section.