Blog Against Heteronormativity Day
I came more-than-fashionably-late to Blackademic's party, otherwise known as Blog Against Heteronormativity Day.
Now, let me register in advance my just-fineness with the word "heteronormativity". While language is often used to pull class rank in this world, it is also used to communicate. And, yes, "heteronormativity" does mean something that no other word means. So, let's use the word when that's what we mean to say.
What I want to say to straight people is this: think before you ask a question or make a statement about someone's personal life:
Don't ask, "Are you married?" or "Do you have a [other-sex-label-here]friend?"
Survey and poll researchers: stop asking people if they are married or single.
Stop asking questions in ways that accentuate difference, "Have you ever had sex with a [same-sex-here]?"
Don't assume you know anything about the internal life of someone's relationship based completely on the genders involved, i.e. "You must be the femme," or "Your boyfriend sure must be the sensitive type," or "I'm sure he wants to stay home while you shop," or "Sex must last all night," or "I'll bet she looks just like you- all gay couples I know look alike!"
Another thing: stop orienting people around one or the other of their gender or sexual orientation. For example, don't assume a lesbian wants to sit with your and your football buddies and check out the cheerleaders anymore than you'd assume that, as a woman, she'd like to paint her fingernails and watch a Meg Ryan movie in the other room. Don't ask your gay friend for help with decorating unless you happen to know he actually cares about decorating, but don't assume that, as a man, he doesn't.
And queers and unconventional straights: embarass people when they assume. "You thought I was ... straight? Why would you think that?" or "No I'm not going to marry him. What gave you that idea?" or "Yes, this is our kid. Whose kid did you think he was?" Make them feel like they're from another era, like when people said "colored" and "Oriental" in polite company. And, soon enough, we all will be.