Wednesday, January 9, 2008

You are what society puts in your mouth

They say that homosexual, bisexual, pansexual and most prefixes that end with –sexual persons are self-identified. Self-identification requires some consciousness and reflexivity. On the other hand, a baby is born into a name, a culture, a certain form of normality, a colour, a language, and sometimes a religion.

When a gay person calls himself/herself a gay person, it is self-identification. On a heterocentric, heterosexist, heterosexual-dominated plane, society expects the person to think hetero and be hetero. Black is black. White is white. Nothing exists in between or that would be classified as unnatural. At the same time, people in this society (basically the world) share and subscribe to a common, sometimes too convenient, notion of stability – stability as defined in heterosexist language.

Is there a language with which we can use to define, label and categorise non-heterosexual people? If we were to create a language, won’t we be creating it with ingredients grown on the soils of heteronormality?

When you say “I am *insert non-heterosexual adjective*”, you are claiming that you do not personally subscribe to heterocentrism and its expectations on your mind and body (and spirit, for some). Heteronormality determines what is happiness, stability, right and wrong, how the lines are to be drawn. Homosexuality, among many other non-heterosexual identities, exists as a choice, a lifestyle, an aberration of a concept called nature, because it is outside the realms of heteronormality and it does not coincide with the goals and expectations of “straightness”.

Homosexuality as an identity or a feeling, does not exists in the heterosexist dictionary, vocabulary, mind and realm. When you say, “Let’s accept sexual minorities for who they are,” others will say, “This is a slippery slope”, “the gay agenda”, “they will be pushing for more and more”, and of course “think about the children!”.

Straight people define straight people; straight people also define gay people. It is just like men define men; men also define women. But when the gay person, or the woman, starts to define himself/herself, people will think, “This is really odd, please get back in line.”

Stability for many does not involve one questioning the setting and domain within which one lives. If so, there is no ideological stability and grounding for one who seeks it. A meaning-seeking creature that is the human being does not merely ascribe, prescribe and subscribe (to) meanings, he/she does so with a template, a particular worldview and belief, informed, cultivated, brainwashed, institutionalised by his/her social and political environment.

There is no such thing as the “straight agenda” because it is not an entity but a reality that is being lived. It has many mechanisms to deal with the ideological threat that are deviant sexual identities. It raises its children to develop prejudices and predispositions, and lay in place impediments to create a sense of belonging, a sense of guilt and a sense of right and wrong to keep its children within the boundaries of control. When you identify yourself as a non-heterosexual, you are crossing that boundary.

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