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Heteronormativity: It’s Not The “Norm”

Alice Donovan Rouse (Photographer) (2017, Jan 23). Peace [Digital Photography]. Boston, Massachusetts

In a world where being heterosexual is widely viewed as the “norm”, it’s difficult coming to terms with the fact that you may not fit into the heteronormative lifestyle. Heteronormativity refers to the idea that traditional gender roles and heterosexuality are normal, making everything else abnormal and often considered unacceptable. This idea that only a certain sexuality is valid is both incorrect and damaging.

Considering that some people know they aren’t straight from a young age, hearing their elders pushing subtle and passive homophobia onto them can and will effect their way of thinking of themselves, and others. The fact that not all sexualities are normalized is a constant issue that needs to be addressed.

To anyone I haven’t directly come out to, this includes friends, acquaintances and every single family member:

No, I am not straight.

No, this is not a phase.

No, I am not sorry. Though, I will apologize for your ignorance if you believe that I am — in any way, shape or form — a disappointment. I’m not. I’m the same person you know and love, just  less hetero than you once thought. Who I choose to love shouldn’t be an issue for anyone.

I can recall being in seventh grade, scared out of my mind because I knew I had feelings for girls as well as boys, or possibly even more so. I considered my options carefully: suppressing my feelings, coming out and eventually I began to think that if I kissed a boy, maybe my feelings for girls would dissipate — of course, that didn’t work.

During high school,  quite a few people would often question my sexuality (not always politely). I’ve had people flat out ask me if I am a d*ke, others would tell me that they could “smell the lesbian” on me. No matter how someone approached me on my sexuality, I would claim straight, but in my head I knew it was a front. I was beginning to lose a sense of myself inside of the lies I was delivering to others, but at the same time I justified it as valuing my privacy. I didn’t realize how much I was denying myself the truth, but I also didn’t consciously notice that society had made it so I’d feel so very uncomfortable with who I am.

All Sexualities Claimed by All Genders are Valid

The thing about accepting your sexuality and coming out to loved ones, is that it seems to never end. (It took me up until I finished this article to come out to my parents!)  You’re constantly having to explain to people why your specific identity is just as valid as heterosexuality. There are plenty of double standards involved with certain sexualities as well, such as bisexuality, pansexuality, asexuality, etc… Recently, more people have been coming out as the above sexualities (not that it’s anything new, they’ve always been present, more people are starting to recognize them though). Some of these people who have been identifying as bisexual in particular, are men. For some reason, many seem to believe that if a man is attracted to other men, they’re automatically gay. It’s simply not true. Everyone has the ability to experience duality in every sense of the word. Let men claim bisexuality without having to explain themselves. It’s upsetting, the immense brainwashing we, as a whole endure, in order to have this backwards way of thinking — the idea that some sexualities are off limits to a person because of their gender.  The result of double standards and invalidation of identity is simply, the inability to accept oneself.

Self Acceptance and its Importance

The most important part about accepting who you are, is of course being able to love yourself wholeheartedly and without any doubt that you are exactly who you are supposed to be.

Without the ability to love every bit, including your sexual orientation, you’re subjecting yourself to toxicity. Those who feel as though they can’t come to terms with who they are can often suffer from:

Those of you who may be struggling with your sexuality should understand that you’re not strange. There isn’t anything wrong with you and you are by no means, damned for the way you feel. It’s okay to explore, to be confused and not be certain of what it is you want. You’ll figure it all out in due time. Remember, your sexuality does not permit others to bully, discriminate against, abuse, or threaten you. Understand that you don’t have to conform to heteronormativity in order to be accepted by your peers. Realize that we are all still unlearning destructive and insensitive behavior. We are all reprogramming ourselves to be open-minded and it’s important to recognize the fact that everyone’s feelings are valid. The people of the LGBTQ+ community are here with you. We stand by you on your journey, cheering you on as you progress, grow and bloom into the beautiful human you are. You are substantial. You matter. You are enough.

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Khyla Dawn
Written By

Khyla is an avid writer who can often be found curled up watching Studio Ghibli films and other anime, reading, or binge listening to hip-hop jazz mixes.

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