Written by Ewan Fulford
Illustration by Monica Lauren
‘Do I hear triggered leftists?’Kyle Chapman, founder of ‘Resist Marxism’
It’s Pride month.
A month in which LBGT communities can gather and celebrate their identities in public. A month in which the actions of New York protestors in the 1969 Stonewall riots can be honoured.
A month in which a lesbian couple were brutally attacked in London; a Labour MP wholeheartedly endorsed protests against lessons teaching children about the existence of LGBT+ identities; YouTube refused to remove anti-gay content from their platform.
And now, in Boston, we have ‘Straight Pride’. A proposed parade to toast what it is which makes the straight community so unique. For some, this may be their monopoly over Carling and misgendering dogs, for others it may be the eleven months of the year straight people are at the forefront of the media spotlight.
There have been many articles and public figures, Brad Pitt amongst them, who have repudiated the plans. I am in no great rush to repeat their arguments. For most left-leaning readers, Straight Pride is self-evidently disagreeable.
Rather, it’s worth exploring how events such as these take root, and what can be done to proactively challenge regressive ideas.
Social media has been inflamed by ‘Straight Pride’ since it was announced by one organiser, Mark Sahady. Since then, links have been made between the parade and a Boston based group with links to White Nationalism named ‘Resist Marxism’.
A cursory glance at the social media of ‘Resist Marxism’ reveals a deeply embarrassing subculture. Their Twitter is mostly pixelated memes, many of which look as though they’ve been created in 2009. Though, in lieu of pictures of cats and cheeseburgers, these are generally of right-wing celebrities: Candace Owens, Donald Trump, James Woods.
In one, the phrase ‘Half of Trump’s supporters are deplorable’ is superimposed over Hilary Clinton. Underneath, an unimpressed Trump is pointing, ‘Half your supporters are deportable’ the text reads.
I don’t need to explain the joke.
Their tweets rarely garner interactions in double-figures. Their eight and a half thousand followers are matched by a similar number of accounts they follow. ‘Resist Marxism’, it appears, exists mostly in a bubble of its own creation.
The alt-right has managed to carve a substantial following from a relatively small online presence. Chiefly, the creation of outrage through thinly-veiled racism, homophobia, and sexism prompts reactions from both the left and right.
Ironically, the alt-right outrage machine borrows much from intersectionality. Regressive social beliefs collect under one banner. ‘Resist Marxism’ is a group which has connections to both homophobes and white nationalists, though ‘Straight Pride’ is far more palatable a slogan than ‘White Pride’.
We need only look to professional provocateur and anti-Islam activist Katie Hopkins’ recent meeting with Muslim anti-LGBT activists Amir Ahmed and Shakeel Afsar. Both parties are willing to disregard their ideological aversions to focus on making a material difference. Similarly, Milo Yiannopoulos – a gay public figure who found fame ‘triggering libs’ during the 2016 American election – is to be one of the ‘Straight Pride’ parade’s leaders.
Many disaffected young people are searching for assurance in a society which doesn’t offer the stability of permanent employment or housing. It is online that many find comforts which are not otherwise available.
For some, the aesthetics of self-change and the consumption of products, such as in Queer Eye, suggest that through a new wardrobe, house extension, and an uplifting talk we can imbue our lives with a sense that we can take control.
However, this market is filled with more sinister messianic figures. Several take lessons from those such as Jordan Peterson, a man whose diet consists solely of beef and espouses anti-identity politics.
Others, often influenced by moderate classic liberals such as Peterson, find themselves engaging with increasingly extreme content. Figures such as Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones openly share conspiracy theories, blaming groups such as Muslims, refugees, and LGBT people for various social ills.
Whilst inherently capitalist, the Queer Eye model is focused upon making positive change and taking responsibility for our actions. However, many young people find comfort in displacing their own social anxieties upon vulnerable groups.
The void left by economic and social anxieties is filled with ideological manipulators, who in turn profit from their followers.
‘Resist Marxism’ founder, Kyle Chapman, in reply to a New York Times story, linked to a page selling T-Shirts emblazoned with the slogan: ‘It’s Great To Be Straight.’ For these alt-right figureheads, ‘Straight Pride’ is as much an economic grift as it is an ideological movement.
So, what is the solution? Each outraged tweet fans the flames of outrage on which the alt-right thrives. Individually, only direct resistance in the form of protests and Pride celebrations can make clear to bigots in your own city that their views are unwelcome.
However, the onus does not stop with us. Companies such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and Patreon are tasked with a responsibility to de-platform and de-monetise content which threatens vulnerable groups. These are private companies who have every right to choose the content they host. Free speech does not stretch to the production of violence and hate.
But, until society offers a disaffected generation with the opportunities enjoyed by their parents, straight men and women will be donning their best pair of chinos and wishing one another a happy Straight Pride.
Ewan graduated from Leeds University with a degree in English literature and is now completing his masters in Modern and Contemporary Literature. He is mainly interested in social media and politics.