A twitter screenshot of a Super Straight twitter account next to a screenshot of a Supe
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Identity

Inside the ‘Super Straight’ Movement That Got Banned on TikTok and Reddit

It was a harmless video until it turned into 2021’s digital Straight Pride parade.
March 24, 2021, 8:17am

On February 21 this year, Kyle Royce posted a video of himself on TikTok titled “who else is super straight?” that got over two million likes before it was deleted. “I've made a new sexuality,” he announced in the video shot inside a car. “Straight men get called transphobic because I wouldn't date a trans woman. Now, I'm super straight. I only date the opposite gender, women, that are born women. So you can't say I'm transphobic now because that is just my sexuality.”

Royce later clarified to Insider about the video that brutally divided the internet this month, “I created it because I was sick of being labelled with very negative terms for having a preference, something I can't control, and getting labelled by the community that preaches acceptance with that sort of stuff. It was never meant to be hateful towards anyone.”

The video stayed up for a week despite the backlash it promptly received. Then, TikTok took the video down, banned Royce from the platform, blocked the hashtag #SuperStraight, and came out with a statement saying they “do not tolerate hate speech or hateful ideologies.”.

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But the damage was already done. Overnight it seemed, “Super Straight” pages swarmed on to other social media platforms. The movement gained popularity on Twitter, Reddit, TikTok and 4chan—the last one also being a generator of far-right propaganda and an amplifier of online bigotry.  The subreddit r/superstraight was at almost 30,000 members before it too was taken down on March 9.

But what is “Super Straight” even?

Super Straight advocates claim this is a new sexual orientation, defining super straight sexuality as cis people attracted to cis people of the opposite gender… so, basically just cis-straight people. But the broader implication of what they’re saying when they say they get attracted only to those “born” as women is that transgender women are not really women. 

Urban Dictionary earlier defined the term “Super Straight” as: “When you are born heterosexual but attracted only to the person who has born the opposite gender.”  The definition was later updated to “a 'sexuality' cishet males use as a way to excuse their transphobia.” Good save.

“I think cancel culture is out to get straight people,” said Jay*, an 18-year-old self-proclaimed Super Straight guy from the Bay Area in the U.S., who says he found this community he resonates with on TikTok. “We are here to tell the world we are proud of being straight, and it’s not a crime to be cis and heterosexual,” he said over a video call.

But while Super Straight supporters claim that just like LGBTQ+ people, they too can “come out the closet as superstraight”, others are pointing out this is actually a full-fledged transphobic movement under the guise of inclusivity.

“Let’s call this trend what it is,” said Valerie, a transgender woman from the south Indian city of Chennai. “These guys are actually transphobes insecure about people finding out about their transphobia. I immediately looked up 4chan when I heard of the movement, and found the transphobic stuff they were saying. It felt dehumanising.” 

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In defence of the backlash that ensued alongside a show of strength from those who wanted to announce to the world they were Super Straight too, the OG Super Straight dude Royce took to TikTok once again to defend his early remarks and mock his critics. “I thought y’all said Super Straight isn’t legit,” he joked in one video before he was kicked off the platform, “but how can you be Super Straightphobic if it isn’t real?” His supporters have also accused others of being “superphobic” by not accepting their preference. 

The sense of fragility and insecurity amongst Super Straights has led to the rise of “Super Gays”, “Super Lesbians”, and “Super Bis” too, which tbh just sound like really bad superhero names. In a video going around on Super Straight Instagram accounts, a woman says, “I’m a lesbian, I’m attracted to women, not men who turn into women.” Nearly all Super Straight supporters ask the same defensive question about why they need to announce their sexuality which has more to do with exclusion than inclusion and shout it from the figurative rooftops of social media: If there are hundreds of genders and sexualities, what’s wrong with this being one of them? 

Underneath the clamour though, there seems to lie straight fragility, far-right undertones, insecurity and co-opting of the LGBTQ+ struggle for equal rights, representation and recognition while forgetting that the Super Straights never lacked those things in the first place. It doesn’t take account of the privilege cis heterosexual people enjoy and the fact that it is illegal to be LGBTQ in 70 countries and punishable by death in 12. “But that’s not my country, and quite frankly, I don’t care about these stats,” argued Tim*,  a super straight community member from Germany who we reached out to on Instagram. “The liberals on Twitter don’t care either.” 

But do straight people face discrimination based on their identity in a manner that they need to respond with such exclusionary material? “In recent times, yes,” replied Jay*. “People hate you if you don’t want to date a trans person.” 

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But it’s not like they’re being forced into dating someone they do not want, right? “We’ve never begged a straight person to date us,” said Abigail, a transgender woman from the city of Bengaluru in India who found the movement online last week. “We just don’t tolerate their transphobia.”

The movement has also triggered a reliving of the trauma that several transgender people have faced through their lives. “I was bullied in school for questioning my gender and sexuality,” Stickers, a non-binary person from Florida, U.S., told VICE. “But to see straight people try so hard to be oppressed when they have never faced any discrimination makes me sick. I fear holding my girlfriend’s hand in public, but a cis-het man on TikTok goes on about how straight people are being oppressed.”

It’s not just about a couple of tweets or videos

What started off as a TikTok seems to have now snowballed into a label with vociferous people on both sides of it, across mediums. Despite the TikTok and Reddit ban, pro Super Straight subreddits and accounts still exist. Super Straight people told us that several groups have even moved to Discord, WhatsApp, and Telegram to avoid scrutiny. There seems to be country-specific “communities” too—with ones from India, Germany, Slovenia, Ireland, Belgium, Scotland, Portugal, the Middle East and Saudi Arabia having attracted over 5,000 members. 

To make the point they’re trying to desperately prove legit, the Super Straights have come with a flag and merchandise though it’s not quite sure who’s buying it yet or who came up with the inspired colour scheme. We say inspired because as many people online pointed out, the orange and black colours of the flag are similar to the logos of PornHub and queer dating app Grindr.

The merch includes flags, hoodies, crop tops, sweatshirts, T-shirts, and face masks ranging from $14.99 for $54.99 $14.99. The community members we spoke with don’t know what happens with the money or who runs the website. According to a Mashable piece though, the merch is actually a way to ridicule the LGBTQ pride movement by mimicking pride merchandise.But we spotted e-commerce platforms actually selling Super Straight merch.

People have also pointed out the highly problematic aspects of the imagery and messaging from the Super Straights, including symbolism similar to the Nazi Germany group Schutzstaffel—or SS, the paramilitary organisation of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. 

In now-deleted posts on 4chan, a user said, “Introducing, the super kek, it’s Super Straight but however more associated with the right and /pol/, which holds more hatred towards trannies. Basically, the extremist superstraight.” 

Similar to the association between organisers of a controversial “Straight Pride” rally that was proposed for Boston in 2019 and far-right movements and nationalist protests, so have the links between the Super Straights and far-right groups emerged—especially considering their presence on 4Chan. “But we can’t really control what people think,” argued Super Straight Jay*. “Leftists dominate the LGBTQ community. I think it makes sense that several right-wingers found themselves in the movement.”

Jake Angeli, QAnon Shaman, Regrets Nothing

Some Super Straights though have denied any association whatsoever. “The neo-nazi bit is a ridiculous theory,” insisted Karan*, who is part of the Indian Super Straight community on Twitter. “This community is here to spread peace and love to people of all ethnicities and religions.” Added Jay*, “We can’t do anything about it. As a POC, I understand this movement might have attracted white supremacists and neo-Nazis but a majority of folks in this movement are just young males who are tired of the cancel culture online.” 

Taken down

A lot of discontent in the Super Straight community comes from the fact that their social media pages are being taken down—something most people we spoke to thought was akin to censorship and not really the takedown of hateful messaging.

“This is clearly muzzling of freedom of expression,” said Tim*, a 20-year-old cis-het man, who found out about the movement after TikTok and Reddit cracked down on pro-Super Straight accounts and hashtags. “It’s nice to have a community of people of my own sexuality. Not all of us hate trans people.” Tim* now runs a pro Super Straight account with 163 followers on Instagram. His new account is a private account, and Tim refused to reveal the username fearing it might be taken down too. “My previous account had over 5,000 followers, but Instagram took it down, so I’ve had to start from scratch all over again.”

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At the time of writing this article, several pro-Super Straight Subreddits were newly axed. All of the community members we spoke to agreed that Twitter and secret Facebook groups were “safe spaces” for now since the chances of being banned there are low.

But despite the ban by TikTok and Reddit, Super Straight content can be easily found on both platforms with alternate hashtags and misspelt names like #superstaight on TikTok.  VICE had also reached out to Nick Guerrette, who used to run one of the most followed Instagram accounts on Super Straights at 6,439 followers until it was taken down. While Guerrette initially agreed, he later declined to be interviewed since VICE is a “liberal media organisation,” and the Super Straights are mindful of which media they speak with. According to his Instagram account, @Superstraight_official which has now been taken down, a “Super Straight March” was scheduled in Washington D.C. on April 17. We couldn’t clarify this with other Super Straight people we spoke with. 

For now, the LGBTQ+ community too stands divided on Super Straights. TikToker Desmond Fambrini who is genderfluid and uses he/him pronouns said in a video, “Is it that bad? I’m not personally insulted by this, not everyone is going to be attracted to me.” The movement has also gathered support from TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists), who alternate among several theories that all claim that trans women are really men, who are the ultimate oppressors of women, and hence, not really women. Several TERF pages on Instagram have openly announced support for Super Lesbians and Super Bis 

But the involvement of TERFs isn’t a surprise to trans women.“This was expected,” says Valerie. “The Super Straight trend just pushes their rhetoric that trans women are not ‘real’ women. Wait till these TERFs find out that it’s the Super Straight dudebros who objectify and sexualise women.” 

Some queer people believe the trend itself was started to sow discord and hate within the community. According to deleted screenshots on 4chan, one of the users said, “Use the left’s tactics against themselves, call them bigots for not accepting super straights.” Other than TERFs, who are vocal about their transphobia, the involvement of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people has come across as backstabbing for many community members. “It hurts, but queer folks who support Super Straights are finally revealing their inner transphobia,” says Abigail, “but they shouldn’t forget this is like dining with the enemy.”

*Names changed on request

Follow Jaishree on Twitter and Instagram.