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 fagbug.com.

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.


macon d said...

Excellent post, thank you for clarifying this issue. I think that woman is doing a brave, serious thing.

Yes, double consciousness is a phenomenon that works in terms of so many categories, where minorities are made visible and the majority remain more or less oblivious to their membership in that category--to that category AS a category.

Seems to me that when white people recognize Du Boisian double consciousness for black people, they recognize it as a problem for black people, as something unfair. And not as something that actually, they should have too.

What I think white people need, as well as people in other majority categories, is also a double consciousness, in the form of an awareness of the significance of their majority category to their lives. At least, until such categories no longer have such significance, which ain't gonna be any time soon.

sara said...

Thank you very much macon d, and I couldn't agree with you more. Majority categories is a great way to phrase it. We need to displace majority categories by labeling them with their own differences. Yeah, it's not a project to be completed anytime soon, but it's great to take small steps. Thank you again!

macon d said...

You're welcome, Sara. By the way, today I gave you an award! I look forward to more of your good postiness.

Anonymous said...

Yes white males are evil. Thanks for making me understand this, i will now go kill myself... You are a hypocritical idiot. You preach understanding and spew arrogant, hate.