Something happened in my little lesbian community. It gave me a reason to write again, what I didn’t do much lately. Sometimes I just feel to demoralized to write about the things that are so clear to me: the workings of the patriarchy and all it’s by-products. It makes me feel nothing will change in my lifetime, everything I write or blog about is just useless. I think I forgot the reason I started this blog: to vent my anger, to share my anger with others, to feel less alone. Not too change the world on my own. It’s not about me after all. It’s about all of us who are aware, all who are activists in their own way. This thing what happened in my community just made me aware (again) of the importance of our own individual voice. Because as Audre Lorde said: “only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
This is what happened: A young lesbian friend of mine fell in love with another girl. This girl grew up in a very warm, close connected family and lived a comfortable heterosexual life. Until she also fell in love with my friend and they became lovers. This girl has grown up in a country where it is (according to a lot of straight and gay people) not such a big thing anymore to be lesbian or gay. Everybody knows one right? It’s your neighbor, uncle, aunt, teacher, friend or a classmate. But it was never you. Until this moment. Now you start to realize it is a big thing. Maybe not even for you, you are just in love and feel the same person as before. You realize it because your parents are not happy about it and even after months they will still try to change your mind. They will put pressure on you. You are also most likely the only lesbian in your family, the only one in your group of friends and the only one in your class. Calling yourself a lesbian is still to big a word, you’re in love with another woman, that’s all. Still you feel thrown out of the pack, confused, lonely, frustrated, maybe angry. Your world has been turned upside down.
Being gay or lesbian is not seen as an illness any more. In 1973 the World Health Assembly removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders when it approved a new version of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). There is a professional consensus that homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality and cannot be regarded as a pathological condition. Recognition of diversity instead of pathology.
It’s 2014 now, 41 years past the declaration that we are, officially, not suffering from a psychiatric illness. Hurray. I quess. Just too bad that imposing heterosexuality on people for centuries by religious zealots can’t be undone in 40 years. Telling generations of people what to regard as ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ changes their brain patterns. Compulsory heterosexuality (Adrienne Rich’s ‘invention’ ) became heteronormativity and even though my google dictionary doesn’t recognize the word yet, more and more people are recognizing how suffocating the patriarchy works with this almost invisible imposing of heteronormative behaviour and the even more invisible pressure to comform to your biological gender. So even though we are not suffering from a mental illness, most men still don’t want to be regarded as gay, let alone, as a ‘fag’. Boys grow up to be ‘real’ men, not to talk, not to be emotional, not to be a fag… (watch this to see what it does to ‘men’ up). Girls don’t want to be called a lesbian, let alone a dyke. Loads of parents are still too ashamed to say their kid is homosexual and hide it.
The pressure to be seen as normal a.k.a. heterosexual is huge, also in my country. I know it’s easy to point the finger at countries like Russia, Nigeria or countries in Eastern Europe where governments try to impose this normality with draconian anti-gay laws. We have no laws imposing that and we are in theory protected by law against discrimination on the base of sexual orientation, so how can it be that my friends still have to go through all this shit?
I would really invite all the people who say that we should stop complaining about equality, because we háve equality, to have a closer look at their own society. They could for instance follow the media for one day: watch t.v, read newspapers, magazines, listen to the radio. How many images of same-sex couples do they see? And how many images of couples of the opposite sex? According to the Newspaper Association the average person in the US is exposed to over 3000 advertising images per day. Almost 100% of these images are dictated towards a heterosexual, white and middle-upper class audience. They could read (as I did) about the 80.000 people in the South of Germany who signed a petition to stop the teaching about LGBT-lifestyle in schools. Or maybe have a look at the survey of 93,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from all over Europe that showed that more than 80 percent of the group are verbally abused or bullied at school, nearly one in five feel discriminated against when seeking work and a quarter of the people have been attacked or threatened in recent years. I would like them to go out and walk hand in hand with someone of their own sex for one week or kiss the other one openly in a public place.
Realizing you are a homosexual in a patriarchal, heterosexist society that doesn’t want to change their rules and doesn’t even accept that they are responsible for making these rules, can be a shocking experience. It can demoralize you and devour you: resistance is futile after all, you will assimilate as many of us have already done. It can kill you, if you can’t deal with it ór it can change you into a radical, in which you have to accept your role: be the other, be proud of being the other and if you’re also a radical feminist, you will be the party-spoiler for ever after 🙂