We Need to See, Not Look Past, People’s Sexual Orientations

By S. (October 11, 2018)



So this is a thing that pisses me off. If you care about me, you should care about my sexual orientation. My sexual orientation defines so many aspects of my life and it limits me in many ways. Not caring about my orientation means not caring about the ways I am different from our heterosexual norms, or the ways in which I am hurt by the heterosexual norms. THIS IS WHY COMING OUT IS SUCH A BFD! I am literally sharing something very important, potentially very scary, and very fundamental about who I am. Yes, yes you should care.

And you should keep in mind my sexual orientation in our daily interactions. You can’t simply translate assumptions about dating from straight world to gay world. The variables and challenges LGBTQIA peeps face are very different from those of the straight world. Gay men in particular are facing an epidemic of loneliness and such notions of not seeing sexual orientation disregard that epidemic. Of course, in our recent history we faced a much worse, more deadly epidemic, that has not fully disappeared, but seems to have been largely erased from discussion.

Part of the issue is that when we don’t take sexual orientation into account we default to heterosexuality. For example, we are all trained not to assume children’s sexual orientations. However this translates into assuming all children are straight until proven otherwise. This implies that there’s something so distasteful as to be unspeakable about the possibility that a little boy might be gay. (I can’t speak to other sexual orientations and I’m treading on thin ice in generalizing my experience). As a gay child, my queerness was something tiptoed around, something to be corrected, something to be beaten out of me, and something to be ashamed of. This was a source of considerable trauma for me and for many gay men (see The Velvet Rage).

An example of ignoring sexual orientation can be seen in Voltron, of all places. In an interview with one of the producers, they discuss their decision to make one of the mains gay. The producer said that they didn’t put the characters’ orientations in the show’s bible (each serial TV show has a showbible that contains all of the important info about each character) because they didn’t want to focus on orientations. Yet, there’s a straight male character who has a crush on a female character. That’s a sexual orientation, folks. Boy meets girl is such a norm that we don’t realize it is as much a proclamation of sexual orientation as coming out.

You all should be woke enough by now to understand why “I don’t see race” is terrible. When we don’t see race, we are defaulting to a white norm. I hope you all can understand why “I don’t care about your orientation” is just as bad.

See people’s orientations. Respect that their orientation is part of what makes them who they are. Listen and connect. Don’t ignore and hide!