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Throughout my life, I have often heard from individuals in our nation's news organizations, from those in Academia, from local/state/federal government officials, from corporate human resources representatives, and from those in the entertainment industry that members of the LGBTQ+ community should feel pride in having been born the way they were.

Looking at this issue from a strictly philosophical point-of-view, if it is perfectly acceptable for members of the LGBTQ+ community to feel pride in who they are and to also publicly express this pride to the general public, then it seems reasonable and logical for those who were born heterosexual to feel pride in having been born heterosexual and to also publicly express this pride to the general public.

So, from a philosophical point-of-view, is it rational for heterosexuals to be proud that they were born heterosexual?

EDIT

I do not believe that my question needs improvement. I am not seeking an answer that focuses on the history of the Pride movement and the justification for it. Rather, I simply want to know if it should be considered to be rational or irrational that a heterosexual would be proud of their sexuality and that he/she would have the urge to publicly express their pride in having been born heterosexual.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Philosophy Meta, or in Philosophy Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented 2 days ago
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    Should this not maybe be moved to the psychology SE? A lot of the extant answers discuss personality theories. Which does not strike me as philosophy.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented 2 days ago
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    It improve your question, I think it should include a clear working definition of what you mean by pride in this context and some supporting evidence that your working definition is in line with the usage intended by members of the Pride movement. It would also benefit from some historical context covering what the Pride movement is and how it originated, beyond simply what you "have often heard."
    – MikeyC
    Commented 2 days ago

9 Answers 9

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I would say it is perfectly fine. However, the "pride" that the members of the LGBTQ+ community want to express is not "pride" in its usual meaning. They are not "proud", they are "not ashamed", which is a common second meaning of the word.

People in the LGBTQ+ community have been discriminated for a very long time, so it is definitely more necessary for them to remind the other people about their rights than it is for heterosexual cisgender people to do so.

A homosexual man isn't in any way inferior, nor superior, to a heterosexual man as a human being for the fact of being homosexual. Thus, one could argue that there is nothing to be proud of, and they would be right. The point is: there is also nothing to be ashamed of.

So the "pride" which they refer to in this context is more like "we exist, in no way we are inferior to any other human being, we deserve the same respect as all the other people and we must not be ashamed of what we are" (but that would be pretty long to say every time they refer to the pride, wouldn't it?).

So I think there is a general misunderstanding about what the pride is. It's not about actually being proud like you'd be of an achievement, it's about not being ashamed, like some people want the members of the LGBTQ+ community to be.

In conclusion, the answer is: yes, it is definitely acceptable. However, I believe it is less necessary to express it as loudly.

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Pride is an emotion. It is irrational to expect rationality from emotions.

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    Yes, but the trouble is, it's not a question, it's just (extremely naive, obvious) agit-prop about a slogan.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 9 at 19:17
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    @Fattie It ends with a question mark, so it's a question. You might find the content of the question to have been written in bad faith, but that doesn't make it not a question.
    – Nico
    Commented Jun 9 at 20:59
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    It is a controversial position that emotions cannot be rational; this answer would benefit from some defense of it.
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 10 at 0:06
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    @Corbin If I'm right to intuit some frustration or perplexity in your comment: the likely reason this answer trails NtLake's answer in votes is that NtLake explicates a crucial difference between two senses of the word "pride" in a savvy way that engages with some apparent confusion on OP's part. That said, OP may yet clarify that their intent is more along the lines you've pursued, and then an expanded form of this answer may fare better.
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 10 at 0:10
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    @returntrue you win this one.
    – NtLake
    Commented 2 days ago
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Being proud of your sexual orientation or gender only works when the opposite is expected. Pride started at a time where LGBT+ people were expected to feel shame. Starting as a kid from parents, family, classmates, community etc. In the 1960s, there was no “proud” even if a person was openly proud, society would have seen that as something to be even more ashamed of.

Pride is an anniversary of the Stonewall riots that happened in 1969. Police would raid the LGBT bars, but this time they fought back against them for 3 days.

As time goes on it makes less sense. It went from “how can you be proud of something like that?” to “what’s there to be proud of?” which means it’s more normalized and shame isn’t assumed.

Being proud of being heterosexual might make sense if a person is ashamed, or shamed by others for it. I’ve heard of straight men in queer circles feeling like an outcast and in that case he should be proud of who he is, but not because of his sexual orientation in comparison to LGBT. Just like it would be weird for an LGBT person to be proud that they’re not straight if that makes sense.

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    one thing that makes me both laugh and be appalled is how hypocritical people are about queer sexual identities. you don't identify as gay despite seeming gay vs why do you need to feel pride over it? it's just hegemonic crap
    – andrós
    Commented 2 days ago
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The simple answer, or rather response, to your question is that such words are being used simply as a slogan, a political statement.

There is utterly no connection to philosophy, or any philosophical question.

The simple fact is, if you were to say "straight pride!" you are simply being a smart-ass by trying to use a word that is already in use as a political signal by another group.

For example, (As I understand it) in the USA currently a political slogan used by one of the (stunningly stupid two groups of people that constitute the USA :) ) is "make American great again". Let's say that you were on the other side and you started saying "make American caring again" (or some such variation) so as to de-fang that catchy slogan, so that your ad spend dollars would go further.

This would have utterly no philosophical content nor be accessible to moral judgement by philosophy.

There would be no more philosophical aspect than if Puma starting using the slogan "Just actually do it" or "Just do it more quickly".

Quite simply, your question is agitprop - you are trying to seek a "philosophical" basis for an issue relating to political slogans - which are as utterly devoid of meaning, morals, or philosophical logic as advertising slogans.

Your agit-prop statement or pseudo-question is:

"So, from a philosophical point-of-view, is it rational for heterosexuals to be proud that they were born heterosexual?"

  1. there is no "philosophical view" or moral view about a slogan, it's just a slogan

  2. the slogan (obviously, trivially) conjures up emotions and ideas like "stand up for yourself", "don't hide yourself" etc, so it's a good (means: memorable) slogan, which annoys the other side

  3. in your political fight against the slogan in question, you seek some sort of "moral" or "philosophical" argument that can be used to say "oh, group A can't really say pride because group B can also say it - as Proved by Moral Philosophy".

it's just agit-prop

(Note that I would explain the situation exactly the same way, regardless of which "side" had posed such a question.)

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A similar issue arose a few years ago when the president of Smith College used the phrase "all lives matter" in a public speech. Some students subsequently protested, arguing that the phrase "all lives matter" negated "black lives matter". She apologized a few days later. I suspect that using a phrase like "heterosexual pride" would elicit similar hostility, at least from some quarters.

I think "gay pride" and similar labels have little to do with emotion or logical arguments, but function primarily as social signaling to facilitate forming tribal alliances and reciprocity relationships. People signal this way constantly.

Even in situations where there's little obvious at stake to gain or lose, such as being the fan of a sports team, people often avidly signal their affiliation. That suggests that human instincts include a strong "tribal" element that leads us to seek group affiliations and reciprocity relationships.

The most interesting kind of signaling to me is where there is in fact something significant at stake. Generally, there's potentially reciprocity in most transactions; you give something, and expect something in return.

In biology, there's a phenomenon called costly signaling, which is advertising a trait in a way that can't be easily faked because there's a significant biological cost associated with it.

Humans are believed to use costly signaling in many ways. For instance, a person (or business, or government, ...) may make an ostentatious display to signal that they have wealth, power, .... It's been hypothesized that some articles of religious faith deliberately defy common sense or plausibility, so that publicly affirming them carries a cost (to one's intellectual integrity or whatever), so signaling strong affiliation with the group.

Many kinds of political social signaling have implicied costs. When I was a college and graduate student, it was common for gay students to use the word "queer". At the time, the word "queer" still had negative connotations in general, so there was "irony" in choosing it. My perception was that it was a form of costly signaling.

A similar phenomenon is "political correctness", which represents a clash between what most people would perceive as actual logical or moral correctness, and the conflicting demands of a political affiliation. When I was a college student, a student I knew labeled herself "politically correct" in the college yearbook. In those days, it was regarded as somewhat embarrassing, almost tantamount to publicly stating, "I'm an idiot, but a useful idiot to whoever needs me."

Another way of demonstrating group loyalty is by show aggression to outsiders. Chimpanzees, our closest non-human cousins, are known to patrol the boundaries of their territories, and may literally rip a hapless member of a different group they encounter to pieces. It's hypothesized that this behavior is primarily to demonstrate group loyalty and gain status within the group. Hence ... the protests against the president of Smith College, and many other examples of "canceling" and social aggression, that are inexplicable on purely logical or moral grounds.

Generally, young people are particularly willing to make sacrifices like this, because we generally start life resource poor and lowest in the pecking order, so need to form alliances and start working our way up status hierarchies.

One common criticism of young people these day who use political signaling, is that there is no real cost associated with it, but an expected gain. I generally agree with this; I think the current day is not particularly high on revolutionary spirit. Generally, young people are signaling to older, established members of society ("the establishment") who already hold power, more or less that they are submissive to them and won't challenge their ideology.

Finally, I would guess that the way "heterosexual pride" would generally be perceived is not symmetric with "gay pride". In particular, forming an alliance among heterosexuals or those sympathizing with heterosexuals would not make much sense politically. What would make more sense is to signal affiliation with groups who want to challenge the "diversity, equity, inclusion" power base. My gut feeling is that there's wide support for such a challenge at most academic institutions, but currently the costs are a bit high for most people to bear.

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Independent of adjectives, such as acceptable or rational, the human children of alloparenting apes apparently feel pride and shame in their respective personal drama. If the biological end or goal of the group is to make more babies then the rational desire is to perpetuate more mating couples. If the psychological end or goal is to love all of their offspring then mating couples would feel pride for themselves and toward all of their children. There seems to be a biological and psychological drive to perpetuate the human species. When people feel contempt for self and others in the drama it drives adverse judgments and patterns of so-called social darwinism.

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  1. As NtLake said, "Pride" here to a large extent means the opposite of "shame", not "feeling superior".
  2. When people talk about LBGT people feeling pride, they aren't necessarily talking about pride about being LBGT. LGBT people are often denied feelings of pride at all. For instance, consider Alan Turing. He made major development in both theoretical Computer Science and in practical computing that broke Enigma, saving hundreds if not thousands of lives. Less than a decade after the war that he helped win, he committed suicide. The social opprobrium of homosexuality was so strong that it not only did it overwhelm whatever pride he would have felt at his accomplishments, it was enough for him to feel that life was not worth living. Pride is about telling LGBT people that they are worthwhile human beings, and their accomplishments deserve to be celebrated. It's not about saying that they deserve extra pride for being LGBT, it's saying that they deserve as much as if they were straight. And that's something that a lot of LGBT people are not told. Many LGBT people grow up learning that no matter what they do, they will always be less than straight people.
  3. Your question verges on polemical, suggesting that if the rhetoric regarding gay people were applied to straight people, it would be absurd. It's hard not to think you may be trying to make a "If it doesn't make sense for straight people to be proud, why does it make sense for gay people to be" sort of argument. Well, guess what. Straight people are proud of being straight. Think about it. What is the largest celebration of most straight people's lives? I'd be willing to bet that for over 90% of straight people, it's not graduating from college, or getting a big promotion, or having a great achievement. It's getting married. Straight people will spend tens of thousands of dollars celebrating their sexuality. When someone tells you that they've gotten engaged, the social norm is to tell them "congratulations", like it's some sort of accomplishment. Married people will wear wedding rings and put pictures of their spouse on their desk. Watch Wheel of Fortune and take note of how many people include in their introductions the fact they're married and how many times they've managed to reproduce. We have three holidays (Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Valentine's Day) celebrating heterosexuality. A football player recently gave a commencement speech in which (besides lying about it being illegal to say who killed Jesus) he declared that most of the females students listening to his speech would find being a wife and mother to be the most fulfilling part of their lives. Gay people just want what straight people have. They want their relationships to be treated as accomplishments that deserve to be celebrated.
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    Describing marriage as a "celebration of sexuality" makes about as much sense to me as describing participation in a sport as a "celebration of the risk of physical injury". And no, the word "congratulations" doesn't imply accomplishment like that. I'm sure you can think of several counterexamples yourself. And really - you're going to juxtapose all those marginal examples of society treating majority status as a default, with the expressed views of one person? Commented yesterday
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The problem I have with pride events and the inverse is that it promotes people to have their whole identity revolve around just one part of their humanity, their sexual orientation.

This is a problem. There are a number of philosophies that are all good and well in isolation, but have a slew of people who have it define them, which then becomes a problem.

Veganism is a good example of a philosophy that in essence is quite altruistic. Nothing about caring for animals or the environment or eating healthy is really wrong, but the philosophy gets ruined by a whole lot of people who have it as a definition to their personhood.

I even heard some vegan on the Pierce Morgan show equate animal slaughtering to the holocaust. That makes me wonder, what motivates a person to use such provocative language to convince people to eat more vegetables?

So bringing this back to pride events. Why would a homosexual that is well adjusted feel the need to go to a parade to celebrate their sexual orientation? It is just one part of his personality. It takes many parts of a personality to make a person. Why have your orientation define you?

You may be a father, son, uncle, chess player, barbeque expert, avid reader, or bike enthusiast. Why not have some of those features of your personality have a say in your definition?

Somewhere in your life you are going to have to realise that sex is a part of human life, but it is not the only part.

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    You are rarely being shamed or assaulted in public for being a chess player or barbecue expert and sexual orientation is a tad more integral to defining a person. Your whole post misses the point.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented 2 days ago
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    As a member of the juggling community we also do yearly conventions, including a parade at the hosting city. Noone has ever threatened me for juggling, said that I would go to hell, blocked me from visiting my ill partner in the hospital or exclaimed their discomfort over us jugglers closing their streets for our parade. Commented 2 days ago
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    Even ignoring the origin of Pride as a protest... In modern, Western Pride events that I've been to, you would've seen people from all parts of society, workers/unions, corporations, universities, professional associations, and more controversially but still happening in many places, police and military. The point is you can be queer and [insert anything] here; it doesn't define you... For me, this is the exact opposite of having your identity revolving around one thing?
    – xngtng
    Commented 2 days ago
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    @rushi Speaking as a human whose best friend is lesbian, with irony. Playing chess certainly won't affect your choice for travels (like in "I could end up in prison, or sentenced to death"), or whether you feel safe in certain areas, or how your family treats you, with your daily life and emotional state being deeply affected since you are continuously confronted with this part of your personality as alienating other people, some of them very close to you. All that is what makes this integral, not by choice, but by societal reactions. Pride is there to end this, not celebrate it.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented 2 days ago
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    Would you make the same criticism of, say, Critical Mass (a monthly bike-riding event meant to raise awareness of the need for cycling infrastructure in urban planning)? Does attending Critical Mass mean that somebody defines their identity one-dimensionally as a "cyclist", to the detriment of other aspects of their identity? What about people who go to both Critical Mass and Pride?
    – kaya3
    Commented 2 days ago
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Rational just means that it's based on reason or a belief could be rational if it's grounded in strong evidence.

So being "rational" isn't really this seal of approval that people nowadays try to make it out to be and could actually be a very low bar to pass.

The thing is, life is multi-dimensional chess with and against countless of players so whatever move you make could likely be reasoned for or against in some way or another and thus be called rational. So people love to throw the word "irrational" around if they don't immediately see the reason behind an action or if it doesn't fit their own line of reasoning or a particular technical definition of "rational".

So idk classic examples might be these game theory ideas, where people give out some setting and a heuristic or goal function and if your move maximizes the game function then it's "rational" and if it doesn't it's "irrational". And then they find games like the prisoners dilemma or a dollar auction and taking "rational" steps ends up with a the worst possible outcome.

So in other words it's not rational to be "rational".

(Or you have to give up the idea that rational means smart or optimal or you need to give up the idea that rational is a single action or you need to give up the idea that what you considered "rational" is actually rational or ...)

The only way in which you could be truly irrational is if you'd go for complete randomness, but I'm not even sure that you could do that even if you wanted to. Like you could act on whims and listen to your emotions, but then again your body is the result of thousands of years of evolution that created mechanisms to keep themselves and in consequence, to keep you alive so being alert and in touch with ones body might not even be the worst approach, but actually follow some reason. Even basing your actions on a coin flip might be a rational approach, like suppose you have an enemy that tries to predict your next move to get you, so if your action pattern is erratic they have a hard time doing that, not to mention that you might still hit a goal by probabilistic approaches.

So without further defining a technical definition of rationality, that bar is so low that you could almost by default say: Yeah it's probably based on some reason.

Though that doesn't mean that it's an ethical, moral, optimal or otherwise useful reason.

Also "pride" seems to cover a whole spectrum of possible behaviors and emotions. From confidence in one's abilities, to being content with who you are, gaining confidence and self-worth from one's achievements, to asserting a social status, praising oneself beyond any reasonable relations, chauvinism, etc.

And it has apparently been conjectured that this might have evolutionary benefits, like in showing pride and asserting a social status might secure better positions in a group and thus better food and mating abilities. At the same time it could also mean that others are worse off and could thus also create conflict within a group, so it's not unreasonable that it's both treated as virtue and vice depending on what end of the stick you fine yourself.

So as others have pointed out this is somewhat of a fallacy of equivocation, in that "pride" in the context of the LGBTQ movement is not really about some chauvinism or showing that you're better or more deserving than the rest. On the contrary coming out as Queer was and in some places unfortunately still is more of a way to ruin your social status.

So "pride" in that context is, again shamelessly stealing from good answers, about showing that your fine with yourself in a context in which people tell you that you're doing something shameful.

Which serves a purpose both for those participating which might gain a confidence boost, but also for those still being afraid to come out. Like while it's easy for a cis hetero man to tell people that things have become normal and that there's no huge risk in coming out today, usually you become aware of your sexuality in your teenage years and that's also the time where everything is incredibly embarrassing, where you think everyone is looking at you and where you really don't want to stick out. Until you do that anyway, adopt a healthy "don't give a shit"-attitude and find out that most people don't give a shit either, because they're busy going through similar shit (not always but for many that's just what "growing up" is). So easing that process and making sure that this leap of faith of being yourself ends up being more of a jump from a curb and not a skyscraper might still be important.

Also as long as people feel the need to make sexuality in general and queer sexuality in particular, to be something weird that you don't talk about, it absolutely makes sense to actually do that and to confront fears with reality. Especially if reality is not actually scary or harmful in the first place.

Now for people with majority preferences that still is plenty scary, you also have fear of rejection, of showing yourself vulnerable, of that maybe being exploited, whether you should tell anyone about it or keep it a secret, before again you go with fuck what the world thinks about it, I'm (hopefully we) are find with that and that is (in this situation) all that matters.

So this additional anxiety, that is not related to your partner or yourself, but just to the general group from which you've selected your partner isn't really an issue, that needs to be addressed, because so far we've more of a heteronormativity anyway, so if you don't state your sexual preferences it's assumed you're hetero.

So displaying a heterosexual pride usually comes with a different vibe in the sense of "why are you proud of something that is neither and achievement of your own that you draw confidence from nor a resistance to being shamed for something and an act of standing up for yourself (together with others)?". It's also not related to the individual fear, which you might address with vandalism (you know massacring trees or spray paint a heart with names for the world to see).

So what is it about? And well usually it ends up being more of a sign of the other meaning of "pride" meaning some sort of chauvinism, that wants to assert a privileged social status and that uses straight as "anti-queer", so rather than showing that you're fine with yourself you assert that others should not be fine with themselves.

Now if you are a homophobic asshole who wants people to feel bad about themselves than that might still be "rational"... Morality, ethics, basic human decency and whatnot would want to have a talk with you though. Also if you read rational as scoring the best outcome for yourself, than no getting into petty fights about other people's preferences that don't effect you and pushing people into secrecy is not likely to produce a more livable environment.

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    "It's Hip to be Square"
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented yesterday
  • @ScottRowe Do you mean that song in the parody sense of people getting back to the mainstream but still thinking of themselves as renegades of some sort or in the sense of an anthem for square people. Or just in general that being fine with being unremarkable a valid expression of non-chauvinist pride. Though don't people usually resort to statements of that when they are being shamed for that? Though as it's unfortunately common for perpetrators to claim victimhood and self-defense you can probably also argue from that angle whether it fits or not.
    – haxor789
    Commented 16 hours ago
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    I think really everyone should mind their own business and none of this should even be contemplated except when someone victimizes others, then we should take them out of society.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented 15 hours ago

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