Monday, May 5, 2008

Straight People Are Not Gay? It's Less Obvious Than It Sounds

We define "gay" as "not straight," but never the other way around. It seems silly to say this, but by admitting that straight people are not gay, one can easily embrace a form of double consciousness.

Double consciousness is about understanding that anyone who is "different" is different from something that has been accepted as normal. What is accepted as normal in Western society is the white, male heterosexual. I say "accepted as normal" because it is only an idea that has been accepted as true in our society--but it is not a truth. It is not normal.

This is a picture worth a hard look:

The story behind this image hit me as a great way to illuminate the burden of double consciousness. This is the car of a homosexual white female, Erin Davies, whose car was originally silver. One day she found that someone had vandalized it by spraying the homophobic slur in red paint, and rather than have it removed, she left it on. Now you can follow her on her website

Her decision to sport the hate crime was met with strong opposition and strong support as she journeyed across the country to document reactions to her car. She had even re-painted the hateful words after several people have anonymously attempted to remove the bright red message. Recently, she had the entire car professionally painted with the rainbow colors and the name given to her by the original vandals.

This car makes obvious the identity of difference. You would never find someone's car vandalized with the word "straight" because the straight identity is widely accepted as natural...which leads to the logical conclusion that gay is unnatural; false even.

What is normal? There is no normal, because when you say someone is different, it goes both ways. The "gay" is different from the "straight," yes. But the "straight" is different from the "gay" too.

I cannot end without emphasizing the importance of recognizing that double consciousness involves many differences all at once. In this case, we're only looking at a homosexual, white female--who is different from the straight white male and the homosexual white male. But it gets even messier when you look at a homosexual, black female for example.

We can't get stuck on singular terms. We've gotta see that everyone is made up of endless differences--we are all intersected by differences in class, race, gender, and more.


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