Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Holiday of Heterosexism

For a majority of the population, February 14th is a day meant to symbolize our love and commitment to that special someone who fills our life with joy. This generally holds true for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Unfortunately, our expressions of love are often silenced by the heterosexism we experience in our day to day lives.

Whether it’s holding back from holding hands while walking down the street, having a dinner together in instead of going out on the town, or sharing a kiss in the shadows instead of under a streetlight; LGBT people are pressured by society to restrain their romantic expressions to the point of invisibility.

When was the last time you saw an LGBT couple exchanging any affection in public? How did you feel when you saw it? Whether it’s direct or perceived, the fear of being attacked for “flaunting their sexuality” is present in the minds of many LGBT individuals, even those who would describe themselves as fully out and comfortable with their identity.

This Valentine’s Day, when you’re sharing a moment with your loved one, remember those who are too afraid to share the same expressions with the rest of the world and take a moment to reaffirm your support of your LGBT friends and peers. Help reclaim Valentine’s Day as in inclusive holiday by making sure you use gender neutral language, like “partner” or “significant other” to refer your loved one. If you see an LGBT couple, don’t stare . . . smile! As a university, if we are working together to dismantle heterosexism bit by bit, shouldn’t we start with the holiday that celebrates it? Hopefully, one day all LGBT individuals will be able to experience Valentine's Day to the same extent as their straight peers.

Guest blogger: David Jaques, Graduate Assistant, LGBT Resource Center

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