The term Compulsory heterosexuality simply means that heterosexuality is the one and only social normative, and any other sexual orientation is deemed deviant and maladaptive.
The term Compulsory heterosexuality simply means that heterosexuality is the one and only social normative, and any other sexual orientation is deemed deviant and maladaptive. There are countless examples of compulsory heterosexuality in our every day lives, many of which begin from birth. Some of these examples can include the assumed notion that one’s child will marry someone of the opposite sex, religious groups or affiliations assuming/expecting, that all members are strictly heterosexual, and even the use of strictly heterosexual imagery and ideals in educational literature. We often make remarks or assumptions that support compulsory heterosexuality without intending to, or even realizing that we have, mostly because it is the most commonly portrayed social imagery that we see day in and day out. Imagery of heterosexual families on advertisements, in text, and discussion continues to remain the normal stigma in our lives. This issue can lead to non-heterosexual discrimination, increase feelings of homophobia in some, and create a bias towards those who do not fall into the acceptable social stigma. One of the problem that non-heterosexual individuals face, is the social pressure to conform to standards, and the thought that one can change their sexual orientation with repeated pressure and dialogue because society pressures us to conform to one uniform ideal.
Gays and lesbians in contemporary U.S. society receive exponentially less media attention, targeted advertising, and mainstream exposure in daily living. For instance, one of the most popular reality shows on mainstream TV is the Bachelor/ette series, in which the opposite sex competes for the love of one individual. Those same shows that portray non-heterosexual individuals, are relinquished to homosexual-centered specialty stations. In addition to the social and legal hurdles that non-heterosexual individuals face, there is also the issue of loss of self identity, due to overtly homophobic practices in society. A British study comprised of a focus group of self-identifying gay men found that these social practices often resulted in identity inhibition, and the fear of being one’s true self publicly (Clarke & Smith, 2015). While this was a British study, this is certainly an issue that happens daily in the U.S. just the same. Those who identify as homosexual, should not have to feel that they can only be themselves, and feel comfortable in places specifically designed for them, surrounded only by other with like-minded sexual orientations.
In states/areas that do not recognize gay and lesbian marriages, there is also lack of access to their partners health, life, and death benefits, regardless of how long a couple has been together. There is also risk of unjust employment termination and significantly reduced basic public accommodation. Some states even consider sexual intimacy between partners illegal, even though it is consensual. While gay marriage was deemed legal in all 50 states by a 2015 supreme court ruling, many citizens still fail to recognize it as such, and continue to try and repeal the laws. I certainly do believe that prior to it’s legalization, those states who recognized gay marriage were much more equally opportunistic places for homosexual individuals to live. Until we live in a society in which homosexuality and gender identity issues have become commonplace since birth, I think it will continue to remain an uphill struggle.
Compulsory Heterosexuality is the thought of heterosexuality being the norm and nothing can change that. A few examples are, parents that assume that their child will marry the opposite sex, in school the only books about sexual education are about girl and boys, and that heterosexuality is better than homosexual. Today it varies from state to state on how much rights someone can have when marrying the opposite sex. Some even get less benefits. In other states like Washington, New Jersey, and Nevada they get full benefits. Which means they can file taxes with their spouse, make medical decisions for each other, receive family leave benefits. etc.
Although it is different in some states and has changed for the better, there are still those states that do not allow same-sex marriage or partnerships especially in businesses where they do not agree with the decision to be something other than heterosexual. So overall I do believe that the states that have granted rights to gays and lesbians do promote a better environment in order for them to feel accepted and equal.
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