Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Misogyny and the oppression of women has been a long-standing narrative within modern society. The dislike and hatred of women and their femininity is still extremely relevant in today’s world. However, more recently I have also noticed the effects that these heteronormative ideals of anti-femininity have on the LGBTQ+ community.
As LGBTQ+ people, we are outliers to society. Inherently, we do not slot into the ideals of a society that praises heteronormativity. However, we are still brought up and live within it, meaning that though we don’t fit into these ideals, heteronormativity is ingrained in us whether we like it or not. As a gay man, I am extremely aware of my perceptions and beliefs that are rooted in my heteronormative childhood, such as the dynamics of a relationship that are depicted on TV and film where it is one feminine woman and one masculine man. Even though I am gay and all my relationships would be two men, I cannot shake this dynamic from my head.
The more important elements of how heteronormativity affects the LGBTQ+ community is the negative and damaging elements. More specifically, I refer to the vilification of femininity that we, the LGBTQ+ community, mirror from society. The hatred and discrimination that is prevalent within our community obviously extends beyond just femininity (certain examples include race, body type and more) but in this article I shine a light there, mainly because its a place that rarely gets any sun.
It is extremely common for feminine gay men to receive more homophobia from outside the community, but it is undeniable that feminine gay men face more homophobia from within the community as well. There is, of course, no reason for this, other than their femininity. I, myself, am not exactly ‘Masc4Masc‘, yet I find myself doing the same sometimes within my head. But the power is with us to stop it, to control those inherent ideologies that heteronormative society has placed within us.
Of course, this hatred for femininity doesn’t stop at gay men, I speak of what I know. But the idea of ‘passing‘, not only as straight but as cis, is so heavily praised within and outside of our community that it demonises and marginalises those who don’t pass. We already marginalised, why are we doing the same to our own? Why are we mirroring the society that oppresses us?
The answer is clear but difficult. The representation of femininity as lesser or weaker than has been prevalent for a long time, and it is clear it has bled into LGBTQ+ peoples ideals. There is no reason to hate on our own, we don’t have to get along, we don’t have to like each other, but we at least have to care for each other.
The vilification of femininity has gone on far too long. The whole point of the LGBTQ+ community is to let people be who they truly are, so how come when people do that, there are faced with attacks and ridicule? Recognise the position of power each of us sits in, especially when you perpetuate narratives such as this.
When I was younger I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. When I finally accepted that was wrong I opened myself up to be who I actually was, but getting used to that took some time. To have that journey and struggle to then turn around and be confronted by a similar storyline of what I was afraid of by those I expected safety from, makes it a lot harder to come to terms with my identity and truly be myself in every situation.
Recognise when you make these jokes, judgements, perceptions because you are perpetuating a narrative that we have no role in. We are not accepted in society so why are we letting it control our story? Let’s create our own narratives, let’s not rely on the ones we’ve been given by a system that seeks to oppress us.
Femininity is not evil, weaker, lesser or ‘gayer’, so if you catch yourself passing these judgements or viewing it this way, check yourself, because nobody else is going to and the only way to solve this is to start with yourself.