There was a recent video that was passed around the internet of a person asking people on the street whether they thought people were born or chose to be a homosexual. After they answered the question, then the person would ask them, if they were not homosexual, whether they were born or chose to be heterosexual. It was a cute and insightful exercise. It left people who were not homosexual baffled and thoughtful with the idea of when they chose to be heterosexual.
After watching this video I began to reflect upon the very different experiences people have regarding their sexual orientation. Homosexuality has caused people to struggle and become more aware of their sexuality and relationships as they interact within our society. This, of course, has much to do with the long standing oppression and opposition to homosexuality within our society.
By feeling or thinking that one’s heterosexuality is “normal” or the standard way of being has also been an opportunity for people who are of such a persuasion to not reflect as much upon their sexual orientation. When did I chose to be a heterosexual? What caused me to be such? Why am I not gay? These are questions that, until now, I have not ever asked myself.
As a heterosexual there are not many well known descriptive terms for my orientation. Women can be called a lesbian, a title I have always thought was a very nice sounding word. Or men are often referred to as being “gay” if one is a homosexual. But for me, I simply have “straight”, or heterosexual. Somehow, I think this is too bad. I know labels have been very demeaning and used to put people down or hurt or isolate them, but perhaps they can be turned into a positive understanding. I remember when I heard that straight people are sometimes referred to as “breeders”, it made me laugh and I thought it priceless. I liked it. Being creative with our language and turning negative situations into positive understandings is a gift our language offers. All too often we let it slide into simplicities of stereotype and profanity, all in efforts to elevate ourselves. Perhaps we should instead elevate ourselves by using better language and not put down others but embrace our experiences with a broader brush and palette of verbage.