Monday, September 16, 2013

a heterosexual questionnaire, just for you.

This splendid Monday afternoon, as I finished up a book I've been reading, I flipped through pages of it and remembered this nugget of joy (and truth) that I couldn't help but share as I get back into the swing of the blogging business. While the book (Privilege) is full of incredibly well-written, well-said, and powerful essays on racism, classism, and sexism as well, this seemed particularly appropriate for this space.

Heterosexual Questionnaire
What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

When and how did you first decide you were a heterosexual?

Is it possible your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?

Is it possible your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?

If you've never slept with a person of the same sex, is it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?

Do your parents know that you are straight? Do your friends/roommates know? To whom have you disclosed your heterosexual tendencies?  How did they react?

Why do you heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into your lifestyle?

Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?

With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?

Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality?  Can’t you just be what you are and keep it quiet?

Would you want your children to be heterosexual, knowing the problems they’d face?

A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexuals.  Do you consider it safe to expose your children to heterosexual teachers?

Just what do men and women do in bed together? How can they truly know how to please each other, being so anatomically different?

Statistics show that lesbians have the lowest incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Is it really safe for a man and a woman to maintain a heterosexual lifestyle and run the risk of disease and/or unwanted pregnancy?

Considering the menace of overpopulation, how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual like you?

Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective?  Don’t you fear she or he might be inclined to influence you in the direction of her or his own leanings?

How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive, exclusive heterosexuality, and fail to develop your natural, healthy homosexual potential?

There seem to be very few happy heterosexuals.  Techniques have been developed which might enable you to change if you really want to.  Have you considered trying aversion therapy?

[Rochlin, M. (1972).  Heterosexual Questionnaire.  Originally published in the AGP Newsletter, October, 1980. Used and adapted from Privilege, edited by Michael S. Kimmel and Abby L. Ferber (2010).]

The joyful news, here, is that I generally don't come into contact with "the sort" of people that would ask questions of LGBT people like those which the questions above are based on. Only through virtual means - radically ignorant comments on a Huff Post article, an Upworthy feature on people's ignorance, or on the rare occasion in my very own Facebook news feed (usually some estranged elementary or summer camp acquaintance that I don't have the sentimental detachment power to un-friend) - do I usually get the nauseating feeling that comes from this kind of self-inflicted ignorance. The bad news, however, is that so many people aren't nearly as lucky as me. Residing in a larger city helps give you a buffer bubble from ignorant people that is pretty thick (if you want it to be, and if you have the privilege to choose where you live/who you talk to everyday). On top of that, living in Denver, specifically, makes those buffers even thicker - miles wide. It's like being the Bubble Boy from Seinfeld, only in a social/relational way.

Wait, wait, wait. To be fair, it's not just ignorant people who ask questions like "what do you think caused you to be gay?" ...sometimes people are just curious, am I right?!? 

No. I'm not. I'm very, very wrong.

In fact, I might be able to start coming up with some words far harsher than "ignorant" if you push me on this. Lucky for us,  this survey above, the "heterosexual questionnaire," helps shed some light on just this - why we aren't going to go ahead and let those people just be labeled "harmlessly curious." It's curiosity rooted in a constructed heterosexual "norm."

(Disclaimer: if the "curious" person in question is 14 or younger, especially if they are under 10, I am going to allow the answer to be yes, they likely are truly just curious and living in a heteronormative society where they have had such little exposure to non-heterosexuals that they can be considered curious people here. I don't give that grace to those that are in their late teens and adults - sheltering yourself and your family, being close-minded, etc. are not valid excuses for being homophobic/discriminatory. Let's not try to justify this, just let them own it.)

(Second Disclaimer: Perpetuating the fact that there is a "sort" of person who says and does homophobic things doesn't exactly help create a culture of inclusiveness and openness, which is definitely not OK. It certainly doesn't foster a non-judgmental place where we can share our biases and prejudices in order to break down and dismantle those stereotypes and prejudices. So, I'm sorry, and I mean that seriously. However, sometimes, enough is enough, you can only give a safety net to people for so long before you just gotta let them fall/get punched/knocked down/etc. and live in that really uncomfortable place. Coddling has to end sometime to make room for letting people live in discomfort.  It's where a lot of people have to live all the time due to the words/actions/legislation/laws/structures/etc of those same racist, classist, sexist and/or homophobic people in the first place.)

So, let's all be part of stopping the heteronormative "default" culture we keep perpetuating. It's not good for kids. Have you seen the statistics out there? 

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center synthesized these studies and estimated that between 30 and 40% of LGBT youth, depending on age and sex groups, have attempted suicide. A U.S. government study, titled Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, published in 1989, found that LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people.

"More than 34,000 people die by suicide each year," making it "the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds with lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth attempting suicide up to four times more than their heterosexual peers."

What's more, "It is impossible to know the exact suicide rate of LGBT youth because sexuality and gender minorities are often hidden and even unknown, particularly in this age group. Further research is currently being done to explain the prevalence of suicide among LGBT youths."

"LGBT students are three times as likely as non-LGBT students to say that they do not feel safe at school (22% vs. 7%) and 90% of LGBT students (vs. 62% of non-LGBT teens) have been harassed or assaulted during the past year."