Think about everything in your life that has led to the idea that it is natural for men and women to come together as a couple, and it is unnatural for two men or two women to come together as a couple.
—one of the most obvious examples being that the overwhelming majority of couples depicted in books, stories, movies, and shows are opposite-sex couples.
—things you’ve heard since childhood about how boys and girls should interact with each other
—examples of boys and girls getting ridiculed or corrected for not meeting gender-norms, by their peers or by adults
—I’m going to bet a million bucks that you’ve probably heard at least once in your life some kind of statement or joke about how all men are like this and all women are like that, men are from Mars and women are from Venus.
—the idea that a man and a woman can’t be friends because there will always be sexual tension. How audiences almost always end up rooting for opposite-sex friends in movies and shows to come together romantically.
—the idea that between two people of the same sex there is never sexual tension, or if there is it is automatically a joke. Hardly anybody roots for two same-sex friends to come together romantically (
well tumblr does but shhhhhhhh).
—the treatment of lgbt sexuality and non-gender conformity as a joke not to be taken seriously
—or the treatment of lgbt sexuality as something akin to a crime. This can be subtle, such as speaking of ‘accusing’ a person of being gay.
—the general assumption that you should be married to an opposite-sex partner and with kids by a certain age if you are to be considered a mature adult. Otherwise, there is something wrong with you.
This is a grossly deficient list because the number of ways that gender and sexually are culturally coded are endless.
But your sister brings up an interesting point. Wearing a pink shirt or a rainbow bracelet or being inseparable from your best friend doesn’t make you gay. Gender norms for men are becoming more relaxed, which means now it is considered appropriate for men to have ‘bromances’ and maybe touch each other a lot and make homoerotic jokes with each other a lot—and all of this is okay precisely because you are NOT gay. Bromances tend to be socially acceptable with people precisely because they are not gay relationships. Footballers touch each other on the butt a lot—but I feel safe in saying that the world of sports is still a homophobic place. Touching is okay just so long as you are straight.
And certainly, two men can be very close friends who love each other a lot. Doing that is okay for straight men now. It’s not necessarily ‘gay.’ Straight men are allowed a wider latitude of behavior than they used to, when more things were coded ‘gay’ and therefore ‘not okay.’ Now fewer things are coded ‘gay’ and therefore more things are ‘okay.’
But I think what your sister is arguing is that it would be homophobic to think that two men can be more than friends—because she thinks that is implying that straight men aren’t allowed to be close with each other. They are ‘allowed’ to be with each other only because they are not gay. Because to ‘accuse’ them of being a gay couple would be considered insulting and wrong.
If you assume that any man who wears a pink shirt is gay, that would be heteronormative, because you are assuming that straight men cannot wear pink.
But if you ‘assume’ that a man is gay because he hasn’t had a girlfriend for years, he is very close to his same-sex best friend with whom he cuddles on the couch and they go out to dinner alone at nice restaurants, he has a lot of lgbt material in his room, and every time you ask him about his romantic interests he always speaks in terms of ‘someone’, ‘they’… that’s just reading the signs, man. Just like you do with any man who has a girlfriend but doesn’t want to tell you about it explicitly as a statement of assertion: ‘I have a girlfriend, I’m straight.’ But a lot of people will refuse to believe this person may be gay and find ‘excuses’—he’s a straight ally, he’s just very close friends to his friends and friends are allowed to be friends without being gay—until the man says directly to them that he is gay. Which obligates this man to directly inform every person he meets about his sexuality, instead of just living his life, because no one wants to insult him by ‘assuming.’
The basic idea here is that thinking that someone is gay is homophobic, and that is because being gay is bad.
If your basic assumption instead is that being gay is good and just as normal as heterosexuality, everything will look a lot different to you.
And you will begin to notice the general and widespread fiction manifested in many, many ways that heterosexuality is the only sexuality, and anything else is acknowledged only in secretive whispers, hinted at, rationalized away—unless the person makes an explicit declaration of their sexuality, possibly provoking a negative reaction that straight people almost never encounter.
Heterosexuality is privileged in many, many different ways over homosexuality. It’s a huge topic, connected with feminism and gender.
i just went to check the weather forecast and
this is gonna piss off so many bigots who frequent that site yesss