Here’s What to Say to Your Disrespectful Straight Friends at Pride

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Dear Lindsey,

I’m a new-ish lesbian, and this is only my second Pride year. I texted my friends to make plans and decided to invite my straight friends. They were super excited to come to the parade but then one of them said, “Oh yeah, we can be gay for the day.” I thought they were totally joking but as my other friends texted back planning lesbian outfits, I realized they were serious. I think it’s really gross that my friends want to pretend to be lesbians and they don’t seem to understand this might offend me. Do you have any tips for me to educate them on why this is hurtful to LGBTQs? 

-Gay Every Day

Hi GED,

I’m sorry your friends are being lame! Your straight allies should be just that during Pride – allies. They should uplift LGBT friends, take the chance to learn more about lesbian life, and be observers rather than center themselves around a day that isn’t meant for them.

Tell your friends that you get it – the gays are trending, gay culture is fun and fabulous… of course they want to be gay for a day. Then remind them it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Roughly 20 percent of hate crimes in the U.S. were against the gay community in a 2014 survey; since the Trump era, things have gotten worse. As our community honors the second anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, remind your friends that there are still consequences to being LGBT and when they pretend to be gay with the same insouciance as white girls wearing warbonnets to Coachella, they’re disrespecting you.

Tell your friends that you get it – the gays are trending, gay culture is fun and fabulous… of course they want to be gay for a day. Then remind them it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Roughly 20 percent of hate crimes in the U.S. were against the gay community in a 2014 survey; since the Trump era, things have gotten worse.

Cruising for lesbians at a Pride parade to get their “kissing a girl” cherry popped is cruel and misleading. Women flock to Pride parties to congregate with other lesbian/bi/gay people to feel solidarity with their community, and of course to hook up — with women who actually like women, not straight girls pretending they’re bi.

Many lesbians have painful past memories of crushing on straight girls, or maybe even being some straight girl’s first lesbian kiss/play partner/etc. We cuddled our straight friends who wanted to talk about how sick of men they were and how much easier it must be to date women. We had our friends backs when they were lied to or cheated on or cruelly dumped by yet another guy. And to repay this solidarity by thinking lesbian is a costume that can be tried on for a day, for a whim, for attention – it’s messed up.

Gays celebrate Pride by living and loving openly (for some, this might be the only time all year they can) but we work hard the rest of the year to nurture community, live authentically, and support our people who are struggling.

Let your friends know how they can be a good ally at Pride. Here are a few ways your friends can do that:

  • Understand the history of Pride
  • Stand back and center gay stories this Pride
  • Be an ally when the parade’s over
  • Donate to an LGBT charity
  • Speak out about gay and lesbian issues in your community

Tell them that gay spaces exist for gay people to express their full selves, not as entertainment for straight people. Then tell them if they can’t go to Pride as allies, they can go by themselves. You’ll be watching with your lesbian friends, or alone if you have to.

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