Queer Erasure And Heteronormativity

Queer Erasure And Heteronormativity

"Let love in."
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What is heteronormativity? Heteronormativity is, according to Wikipedia, "the belief that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life. It assumes that heterosexuality is the... norm." In layman's terms, it's the assumption that everyone is straight and cisgendered (the gender they were assigned at birth), and that you can only be one or the other, straight or gay. One might assume that the queer (LGBTQ+) community wouldn't have issues such as this, but we truly do, although it's somewhat different than the way it is in the rest of the world.

Within the queer community, it is erasure. I identify as bisexual, and I've had people tell me to my face that those who identify as bisexual are just doing it for attention. People assume that bisexual people are just "curious" or "experimenting," and this isn't only people who identify as straight. I've had gay people tell me that identifying as bisexual is just a phase, that you can only be straight or gay. The term for this is "bisexual erasure," but also applies to identities such as pansexual. It's incredibly frustrating to be told that your identity isn't true, that you're a "curious heterosexual."

I've also noticed that my asexual or aromantic friends have similar issues with erasure. It's assumed that people who identify as such (asexual meaning not interested in sex, and aromantic meaning not interested in a relationship) aren't valid. They are told that they "haven't met the right person," and it's heavily implied that they'll end up in a heterosexual relationship. This sort of rhetoric implies that relationships with heterosexual sex and marriage are the only good thing in the world. It's harmful, and it isn't something heard only from non-LGBTQ people. It's heard from queer communities, telling ace-spectrum people that their feelings aren't valid. Invalidating feelings are never okay.

It's truly frustrating to deal with heteronormativity from anyone, yet it is a different kind of hurt when dealing with it from people who are a part of the community that you identify with. It hurts in a different way. It's one thing to not be accepted by people you knew might not accept you, and a complete other thing to not be accepted by people in a community you consider yourself to be a part of. So please, if you're reading this, no matter who you are-- Accept love in your life. Accept the people in your life. Accept that you can't stop them from loving who they love, and that it isn't your place to. Let love in to your life, and stop trying to stop people from loving.

Cover Image Credit: Font Folly

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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My Freckles Are Not A Beauty Trend For You To Appropriate And Immitate

Those with faces full of freckles can't wipe them off like you can after a photo shoot.

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While it is fun to use makeup to express yourself, one can argue unless you are in costume, it should be used to enhance your features, not create new ones. The trend of artificial freckles puts a nasty taste in my mouth reminiscent to the feeling I get when I see a Caucasian woman apply such dark foundation to her face that she appears to be donning blackface.

To someone who has a face full of freckles, it is offensive to see you paint on freckles as if they were not permanent features of other people's skin that they cannot remove with a makeup wipe. I remember asking my cousin at 5 years old if I could surgically remove my freckles and crying when she broke to me that I'd be stuck with what she called giraffe spots my whole life.

I'm not alone in feeling self-conscious about my freckles. The face is the fulcrum of the identity, and it can feel like my facial identity is like a haphazard splash of orange/brown debris. Another against the fake freckles movement retorts: "you'll soon regret them when people begin to describe you as a polka-dot-skinned troll or a cinnamon-toast-faced goblin. Also, when your eyebags start to sag in middle-age, that 'cute' skin art will probably deteriorate into something more closely resembling oblong blackheads. Sincerely, A Freckled Person"

One woman recalls her struggle with accepting the patterns of her skin from a very young age:

“When I was a young girl, I remember staring at myself in my bathroom mirror and imagining my face without the scattered brown dots that littered my face and body. I dreamed of having the small imperfections removed from my face and obtaining the smooth porcelain skin that I envied. I looked at my bare-faced friends in awe because they had what I wanted and would never know. For some odd reason, I had made myself believe that my freckles made me ugly."

I've come to appreciate the beauty of these sun kisses, and many nowadays have too. However, freckles haven't always been considered cute. There is a history of contempt toward red reader freckled people, just ask Anne Shirley! The dramatic young heroine laments: "Yes, it's red," she said resignedly. "Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who had red hair. I don't mind the other things so much — the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, "Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing." But all the time I know it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow." (Montgomery).

Historically, freckles on ones face have been seen as dirty or imperfect. It's easy to forget that Irish features such as red hair and freckles have been subject to hateful discrimination for centuries. In some places, the word ginger is even used as a slur.

I am not a red-headed stepchild for you to beat — or for you to appropriate.

My facial texture is not a toy for you to play with.

It is rude and inconsiderate to pock your face for a selfie while those with randomly splashed spots get someone once a week trying to rub off the "dirt speck" on their face.

Greg Stevens has a theory to why there is anti-red prejudice

“Skin tone is another one of those well-studied features that has been shown to consistently have an impact on people's assessment of physical beauty: Those with clear, evenly-colored skin are widely regarded as being more attractive than people with patchy, blotchy, or freckled skin.
Nowhere is this more obvious than when looking at professional photos of redheaded models and celebrities. Even those "hot redheads" that flaunt the redness of their hair usually are made-up on magazine covers to have almost unnaturally even skin tones. Moreover, there is a reasonable theory to explain why the bias against freckles might be more than just a cultural prejudice. Not to be too blunt about it, but freckles are cancer factories."

By that, the author means freckles can be early indicators of sun damage or skin cancer. This illusion that freckles indicate deficiency may also play in negative connotations toward a person with freckles

While I acknowledge the intention of people with clear skin who paint freckles on their face isn't to offend — rather it is to appreciate freckles as a beauty statement — the effect is still offensive. If you are thinking about trying this freckle fad, you should put down your fine tipped brush and consider what it would be like if you couldn't wipe away the spots.

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