It seems fairly obvious right? Except maybe not to those outside of the Queer community. When we think of homophobia in its most malignant and evil incarnation, we probably think of these guys:
The Westboro Baptist Church is a very small group that, as a hate mongering cult, cannot really be construed of as being representative of anyone outside of their group but yet they have become the face of virulent homophobia. Which is problematic, in a way. Yes, while it is great that literally no one takes this group seriously they have almost become a charade to distract from the more insidious (and more frequently occurring/far reaching) aspects of homophobia that impact members of the LGBTQIQA community every day. So let’s break it down with a list of heterosexual privileges first:
1) A great number of heterosexual marriages are instantly recognized by the state as soon as they occur, even in the constraints of poorly made drunken decision at 3 a.m. in Las Vegas (I say “a great number” because in some states/counties interracial couples are still getting some shit. In the 21st century, imagine.)
2) No one blinks an eye at heterosexual displays of affection (again, the interracial aspect could be a game changer here. Let’s assume it is now a clause when discussing public perceptions of a relationship from here on out) nor does one have to evaluate the safety of the environment before holding hands/kissing etc.
3) Having a heterosexual identity will probably never get someone fired from a job.
4) One can never be perceived as “too heterosexual” yet one can (even in the LGBTQIQA community) be considered “too gay” “too butch” or “too flamboyant.” Because, you know, being heterosexual is never a matter of “too much” or “too little” because it’s “just right.”
5) A heterosexual will probably never be accused of talking about their heterosexuality too much or of being too concerned with that aspect of their identity politics.
6) As a heterosexual, acquiring and being able to raise children is a fairly easy, non-costly matter in comparison to prospective LGBTQIQ parents (for those heterosexuals with no reproductive complications, of course.) and the state (only when it finds the time to look and only after the couple has children) has to prove that the heterosexual couple (or single parent) are unfit parents while a non-hetero-normative couple has the burden of proving they are fit parents to an often uncaring or hostile state BEFORE they can adopt children.
7) Heterosexual identities are hardly ever used as an insult or as a punchline to a joke. Or as a slang term for stupid. “It’s straight” means its pretty good or alright.
8) There is no repetitive and draining “coming-out” process for heterosexuals because heterosexuality is assumed unless proven otherwise.
9) Chances are a heterosexual does not have to fear rejection from their family and community simply because of their heterosexual identity.
10) A heterosexual can freely refer to their opposite sex-partner by their gender pronouns in conversation without fear of retaliation and can proudly display pictures of the two of them together on their office desks and social media websites.
11) There are no sexual identity related slurs that instantly instill the fear of a possible hate crime in a heterosexual individual.
12) A heterosexual will probably never be bullied while trying to gain access to an education, be it in the public school system grades K-12 (with an administration that will more than likely turn a blind eye) or in college (with administrations that can vary between horrible to mediocre and in a few cases, great.)
13) The anxiety of living with unknown dorm mates/roommates is very different for someone with a non-heterosexual identity.
14) Meeting new people does not typically turn into a game of trying to evaluate how “hetero-phobic” they are.
15) A heterosexual can witness acts of heterosexuality every day, at anytime on television and not have to deal with the few cases of “representation” typically being caricatures or a big pile of stereotypes because heterosexuality is affirmed in our media every single hour.
16) A heterosexual will never have to defend their sexual identity from constant attack and inquiry, on almost a typically daily basis.
17) Heterosexuality is talked about at length (and ad-nauseam) in health classes (I think gays were a sentence in my GHealth class at JMU. No more than a paragraph.)
18) A heterosexual will never have their sexual identity erased by “benevolent” family members and friends who don’t want to “offend you” by affirming the identity that has been disclosed to them and which they clearly must find offensive.
19)In a classroom or a similar setting, there will never be horrified gasps and snickering because the sexual activity in a film, book or other media is heterosexual.
20) A heterosexual will never have to make a list such as this to “convince” others that their sexual identity is marginalized.
21) The already established rights and benefits of heterosexuality will never be called a “special interest” in order to discredit their politicized nature.
22) For a teacher in the public school system, heterosexuality is never a loaded identity that can result in being fired. Also heterosexual pre-teens and teenagers can receive counseling about their identities from heterosexual identified facility but LGBTQIQ pre-teens and teens rarely can find similar counseling from a facility peer who may be Queer identified because it is considered “immoral” to disclose that identity to the students.
–AND THE LIST COULD GO ON. Add yours in the comments section, please!
So, hey, astounding fact learned: homophobia isn’t just waving around a “God Hates Fags” sign! It persists in every day actions and is typically not as blatant. A common experience, that I have written about before, and I have heard numerous other LGBTQIQ students affirm they share is being called homophobic slurs both on and off campus, at night and in broad daylight. When an action is not considered taboo and can be made with no fear of retaliation speaks volumes for a society’s permissiveness of that action. While responding to and dismissing the words and actions of people like the Westboro Baptist Church and politicians like Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and the numerous others that are a plague upon the media with their loud homophobia is a worthwhile activity it also an easy one. It is harder to challenge the perceptions of your peers or to question a curriculum that exclude Queer voices. It is hard work to stand up and tell a complete stranger that calling someone a “faggot” is not O.K. It is hard work to interrogate heterosexual identities as much as Queer identities are interrogated. It is hard work to address the everyday afflictions that harm and silence the LGBTQIQA community but it is the work that needs to be done or else equality will remain nothing but a pipe-dream.