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'Straight Pride': California city may hold heterosexuality celebration

According to the event’s organizer, “gay” is an “advertising term,” “toxic masculinity is not true” and white people are under “severe attack.”

Just weeks after LGBTQ Pride Month ended, a California group announced it would host a “Straight Pride Parade” in the city of Modesto. The announcement comes less than two months after a Boston group announced that it, too, would hold an event celebrating heterosexuality.

The National Straight Pride Coalition applied for a permit to hold the event Aug. 24 at Modesto’s Graceada Park. The event promises to celebrate “heterosexuality," "masculinity," "femininity," and "babies, born and unborn,” among other things.

“This is our first event, but we're looking for events to happen ideally in all states and all counties,” Don J. Grundmann, the head of the coalition, told NBC News. Grundmann, 67, a San Jose, California-based chiropractor who has unsuccessfully run for office at least five times, said the event will express “a very specific religious view of Christianity and its cultural foundations.”

Gay marriage opponent Don Grundmann, left, argues with a supporter of gay marriage outside  the California Supreme Court in San Francisco on March 4, 2008.
Gay marriage opponent Don Grundmann, left, argues with a supporter of gay marriage outside the California Supreme Court in San Francisco on March 4, 2008.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP file

“We’re saying that men are OK. It's OK to be a man, and that toxic masculinity is not true,” he explained. “We're saying it's OK to be a woman via femininity, and we're saying that feminism is an attack upon women and its presumptive philosophical basis is not true.”

During his conversation with NBC News, Grundmann refused to use the word “gay,” calling it a “marketing and advertising” term. He then proceeded to compare LGBTQ people to murderers and drug addicts, noting “these are all manifestations of broken souls.”

Grundmann said his organization has been in existence for approximately two months and claimed it has a membership of between 30 to 40 people. In addition to supporting heterosexuality, Christianity and the “natural family of a man, woman and children,” he said the group also supports “all races and colors, including white.”

“We have a severe attack on white people in our country,” Grundmann added, insisting the concepts of “white supremacy” and “white privilege” are “total nonsense.”

The Archway Leading Into The City Of Modesto
The archway leading into the city of Modesto July 5, 2001.Jason Kirk / Getty Images file

Grundmann’s Stanislaus County Straight Pride Parade application describes the upcoming event as a “cultural celebration” and estimates an attendance of about 500 people. Grundmann also said he hopes the Proud Boys, a self-described “western chauvinist” organization deemed a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, will be among the event’s attendees.

Thomas Reeves, the community and media relations officer for the city of Modesto, told NBC News that Grundmann’s permit is in the final stages of the city’s approval process.

“We have been treating this as a permit for an application just like for any other event that wants to happen,” Reeves said. “The application came through, the fees were paid, and so we are in the middle of scrutinizing it just as we would any other application that comes through.”

However, he noted that the city is “aware of the national discussion taking place around these topics” and will be “paying extra attention” to ensure “when it comes to risk and police department in terms of what is needed for planning purposes if and when it is approved.”

Rep. Josh Harder, who represents California’s 10th District, which includes Modesto, expressed concern about Grundmann’s event.

“This sends a terrible message to our LGBTQ kids, who are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers,” Harder said in an email. “A lot of these kids already feel alone and scared — this just makes things worse for them.”

“I’m also incredibly concerned about the organization’s troubling references to race and the fact that they invited a known hate group to their event,” he added, referring to the Proud Boys. “Our Central Valley values are grounded in acceptance and helping our neighbors, this isn’t who we are. Every American is entitled to free speech. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should."

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