Thursday, March 11, 2010

Recognizing (and Changing) the Absurd

This afternoon's Introduction to LGBT Studies class was fantastic. I asked everyone to brainstorm about how our cultural, interpersonal, and institutional experiences would be different if homosexuality was the norm in our society.

This exercise is my adaptation of the 1997 "Ellen" episode in which Ellen's cousin has a dream that heterosexuals are the minority group. In this dream world, Normal Rockwell is pornography (ewww..."little boys kissing little girls") and heterosexuals find freedom from discrimination living together in "Straight Town." Programs on television with heterosexual content ("Mad About You" or "Friends") warrant a "Parental Advisory for adult content" and the program "Nightline" features a panel discussion of "Heterosexuals in the military: yea or nay."

In class, we decided to add the following to the "Ellen" episode:

1) We would have 'straight bars' and 'straight pride.'
2) We would be debating whether or not it was appropriate for heterosexuals to teach in our schools. They could "teach" our children to be heterosexual. Likewise, we would be reluctant to include representation of famous heterosexuals in our history curriculum.
4) We would be awaiting the first heterosexual President of the United States. We think we would be waiting a long time.
5) We would be debating whether employment non-discrimination laws should protect heterosexuals from being fired on the basis of their sexual orientation. In most states, you could not be openly heterosexual without fear of being fired.
6) We would be very concerned about heterosexual parents. We would limit heterosexual adoptions in some states and give custody to the homosexual parent in cases where a heterosexual parent "comes out."
7) Rather than having Homosexuals Anonymous (HA) (I'm NOT really does exist...Google it), we would have Heterosexuals Anonymous or maybe even Straight-A. We're pretty sure heterosexuals "can change" and be perfectly "normal" like homosexuals.
8) We would not extend federal or state (in most cases) rights of marriage to heterosexual couples. We're pretty sure that would destroy the fabric of society.

Get the picture?

I could keep going, but the list is nearly endless.

We collectively laughed in class at the absurdity of most of these assertions. It seemed like "they could never happen" because they are so ridiculous and absurd when applied to heterosexuals.

Can we use this exercise to see that current inequities in rights and protections for gay folks are absurd and ridiculous? Can we then decide that this will both change and never happen again? I hope so.

Please feel free to try this brainstorming exercise yourself or share it with others. Peace, Sarah


  1. LOVE IT!!! What a great activity, too bad we can't get the general public to engage in such a thing!

  2. This is a great class activity. Love it.