We grew up in a heteronormative society, and despite obvious progress, we still live in one. A heteronormative society is a society which promotes heterosexuality as the norm and/or the preferred sexual orientation. I often read comments about how it isn’t the case anymore, considering how much we talk about anything queer-related nowadays and how better informed we are. I mean, yes, we do talk about it way more and it’s slowly becoming more and more accepted, but it’s still not considered the ‘norm’. Here’s a very simple example: we still need to come out. If being gay, or bi, or anything in the LGBTQ+ community was considered normal, then we wouldn’t generally assume that every baby is straight and cisgender until proven otherwise.
Growing up, I never really talked about anything gay (and even less about gender). I mean, the subject would occasionally come up in conversation with my mother and siblings because she has a gay friend, but it would always be followed by giggles as I found the idea of two men kissing hilarious. I never thought much about it other than that, and to be fair it’s not like I had the opportunity to; the characters I loved on tv were straight, the songs I listened to were about straight love, the little sexual education we’d had was about straight sex, and I never knew I could turn out to be anything other than straight. I only became aware of bisexuality when I was around 16 years-old, thanks to an openly bi girl in my class and through the character Brittany in Glee. I only started questioning myself a few years later though.
I think it’s easier for children and teenagers today because the amount of LGBTQ+ characters on tv keeps growing and the internet gives them access to anything they want; they can be informed very easily thanks to YouTube videos, articles, blogs, forums etc. They can also be a part of an online community thanks to twitter or Tumblr, for the ones who haven’t managed to come out to their loved ones yet or find any LGBTQ+ friends in real life. That being said, they are also exposed to more hate: as we all know the internet has many flaws.
Thanks to this accessibility, information and general acceptance (in the Western world) of different sexual orientations, people tend to think that it’s therefore easy to come out. But they underestimate the amount of shame that’s still linked to being gay or bi. Accepting yourself and finding the courage to tell someone can still be extremely difficult. We hear and see homophobic language all the time, and that contributes greatly to it. Too many times the words gay or fag are thrown in conversation to describe something negative. I especially notice it in French, where the equivalent of ‘faggot’ is used so often (especially by men) and they don’t even see the problem with it. All this language contributes to the fact that we feel ashamed because our sexual orientation is associated to something negative.
We’ve come a very long way in terms of rights and acceptance, but we’re nowhere near where we could and should be. We still live in a heteronormative society, and it’ll take time to change our ways and language to a less harmful and more inclusive one.
In the meantime, don’t ever doubt how amazing you are, and remember that there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. You’re awesome, and will continue to be! And thanks for all the straights who continuously support and love us. Means the world.
Love love love