Friday, April 26, 2013

If "Heterophobia" Were Real: The Problems of Role-Reversal

Earlier this week, a video titled "If 'Heterophobia' Were Real" was published online that illustrates what it would look like if being gay was the "norm" and heterosexuality was considered "deviant behavior." A trigger warning should be emphasized before watching since, from what I understand, the video contains a graphic suicide scene towards the end as well as instances of bullying. I have not seen the video and have absolutely no intentions of ever seeing it. Here's why:

Queer people have faced harassment, violence, intolerance, and suicide for years, and yet our struggles rarely ever get visibility in mainstream media. I read stories about queer kids constantly living in queerphobic environments and how they are forced to cope with violence and hatred. There are real stories about real people who live with these struggles, yet the media chooses to ignore most of those stories. Then a video gets published that portrays heterosexual people as the victims and negatively depicts queer people as the villains. I fail to see how this helps with combating homophobia/queerphobia.

I feel that if one wishes to highlight the struggles of oppressed people, then one should actually portray oppressed people and accurately discuss their struggles rather than setting up unrealistic scenarios that further villainize oppressed people. I think I see the point of the video as trying to put heterosexual people in a different perspective by putting them in the shoes of oppressed people so they can observe the hardships that queer people experience on a regular basis. The problem I have with this is that heterosexual people still have heterosexual privilege and can never actually experience oppression on the basis of their sexual orientation. Only by seeing how terribly it would affect them does the issue then seem to become important enough for folks to understand. I do not see how this is beneficial, especially since it further erases the expressions of those who sometimes cannot escape the hardships of heterosexism and/or cissexism.

I've learned that part of Peers for Pride is learning what being a good ally looks like, and I feel that this video is incredibly misleading. Part of being a good ally is not speaking over oppressed people, and I think that this video does exactly that: it focuses on heterosexual people and places them in the role of the victim, diverting attention from queer people and their struggles which already gets done all the time. In other words, the oppressed are talked over. I don't think this video is beneficial in addressing homophobia/queerphobia, which is why I will probably not be pressing "play."

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