Are you a straight man or woman, tired of seeing your rights evaporate to make way for those of others like, for instance, the gays? And have you been too afraid to express your true feelings, just in case you’re branded a homophobe? it’s time to stop worrying – there are plenty more people out there with little to zero awareness of what’s going on around them.
On the 22nd of March, a few of them publicly rang the bell for the rights of straight people all over the world. A stand popped up in the centre of Prato in Tuscany, Italy recruiting those brave enough to take part in “Europe’s First Straight Pride”. The parade is set to take place on May 17 so, if I were you, I'd sign up as soon as possible.
Not convinced yet? Let's take a brief look at the event's official website. The opening message writes:
“The birth of Gay Pride made room and time to debate both internal and external institutions. These days homosexuality is widely and constantly discussed, but the same cannot be said about heterosexuality. Heterosexuality is perceived as something obvious and predictable. This attitude is wrong. Actually, very wrong. […] Heterosexuals, which according to official figures account for 92.5 percent of the global population, are taken for granted by mass-media as well as society's institutions, who seem convinced that heterosexuals have no issues or needs. That is absolutely untrue.”
Besides deeply articulate reflections on tolerance and the defiance that a majority group should feel for itself, the website offers various information on activities that the association is planning to carry out in the future. Those include but are not limited to: Straight soccer tournaments, straight boxing, straight rugby, straight beach volleyball and straight zumba classes. There will also be a beauty contest that will crown a Miss and Mr Straight.
But Etero Pride Italia has goals that go deeper than the setting up of activities that already exist everywhere in the world – the association's aim is to “challenge mass media and the world of communications in general”. For that reason, they are planning to set up radio and TV channels, as well as a magazine called l’Etero (the Straight) – which sucks because If I had known, I would have never applied for an internship at VICE.
Overwhelmed by the possibilities, I picked up the phone and called Giuliano Visalli, founder of Etero Pride Italia, arranging to meet him in Prato the following day. Giuliano is a tall and masculine guy with longish hair, a square jaw and a hoarse voice. He brought a female friend along, who described Giuliano as “a real leader” and spent the rest of the time nodding agreeably every time he spoke. And Giuliano talked a lot.
VICE: So Giuliano, how is your campaign going so far?
Giuliano Visalli: Really good, I would say. We did some research and we found out we are the first in Europe to try out such a thing. A lot of people have acted surprised, convinced that a like Straight Pride would already exist. But it doesn't and there are so many people that need it, because heterosexuality is taken for granted.
There is a countdown clock on the homepage of your website. Do you really believe you can put together a Straight Pride event in just a month and a half?
We added the countdown because it looks super cool. I think we'll decide whether we'll go forward with it on the 17th of May, when we have a clearer picture of the situation. If the gay and lesbian associations we approached help us out, we could really make it.
How do you imagine the day going?
Don’t expect a straight version of the Gay Pride parade, with floats and whatnot – not at all. We are aiming for something a little more softcore; a mix between May Day and Gay Pride: Two days of cultural debates and entertainment. However, if our followers demand a 50,000 people parade, we won’t hold them back. We aren't afraid of anything.
How did the idea come about? I can’t avoid thinking of your campaign as a reaction to the LGBT movement.
No, it's my idea and my initiative. There was no external vision that influenced my thoughts. After I dropped Political Sciences in the first year of university, I went into politics. I founded a movement that was called Giovani Toscani [Young Tuscans] – it was an autonomous project. I met so many people through that, and I realised that the straight issue was not being taken into account.
At the time it was only homosexuality that was on the agenda, and I felt there was a sort of uneasiness among straight people about their own heterosexuality. As if it was difficult for them to come out as straight. This idea has been stuck in my mind for years. Now, with the advent of new technologies, everything is possible: you take your nerd-friend, you jot down an idea, a logo and the secret dream becomes reality.
Surely you understand that it’s quite normal to wonder why a majority group has to celebrate its own identity.
It’s absolutely necessary, because all those certainties that are associated with heterosexuality no longer exist. We don’t want to lay claim to our rights, we just want to carry on a form of self-criticism towards a world that is slowly falling apart. A self-criticism with respect to what has happened in the last 50 years.
We don’t want to deal with rainbow families, homosexual adoptions or anything like that – those are probably issues we will have to face, but later on. We want to speak about straight people’s problems. About the fact that 40-year-old women have lost the sense of their own biological clock and find themselves childless; we want to talk about those Mama’s boys who are still stuck at home.
The LGBT community had the guts to imagine a world where one could be proud to be gay and fight to make it a reality. They are the brave 300, and we are like Xerxes. Those in the majority are not always the strongest.
Okay. What is going to happen if the straight person's cry for help is ignored?
Look, I think any Western woman can easily testify that men, in the last few years, have lost a big part of their masculinity. [He smiles maliciously while winking at his friend.] Just look at TV shows… I see male role models that I don’t recognise as straight. Our Straight Pride will make the waxed-eyebrow trend disappear. I’d like to understand where this trend of men waxing their eyebrows came from. What the hell is that?
And what about women?
As I said, they have to rediscover their own biological clock. Mass media hold a great responsibility here. Think about Sex and The City. I used to watch it with my ex-partner and I was astonished by the fact that women idolised a bunch of 40-year-old, childless, career women experiencing a scattered version of sexuality.How degrading is the notion of a 40-year-old woman being horny and trying to steal other women’s husbands?
Going back to your relationsship with the LGBT community, what do you really think about Gay Pride?
It’s super cool! Obviously they are a tad excessive in places, but so is every event. They represent the 10 percent of the population. Just think about the possibilties of our movement – we represent the 90 percent. It’s a beautiful, joyful, fresh and artistic initiative. It’s made of art, tradition and music. It’s beautiful.
Did you receive any criticism from the LGBT community?
Yes. An article was published on a gay portal in which they defined us as “fundamentalist” and “homophobic”, labelling this idea as another strategy to promote hatred against homosexuals. We contacted them to clarify and the article was removed.
Don’t you think you might be a little old-fashioned?
Yes, absolutely, and I like it. Since 1968 we have seen a strong change in our habits: Everything that was the status quo had to be demolished. But it’s time we look at that moment with a touch of self-criticism.
Do you think other people will listen to you?
Of course. This is why I invested my own money into Etero Pride and registered the brand under my name. The brand has been registered in all European countries, and this is very important. The “Etero Pride” brand belongs to me. I haven’t been on holiday in four years. I could have spent this money to go on holiday, but this thing gets me so excited that… The only word that really counts for Giuliano Visalli is emotion.
So Giuliano Visalli is the upholder of tomorrow’s families.
Yes, absolutely. Being a dad is cool. Being a mum is cool!
[His friend nods strongly]