This is what Heterosexual Privilege Looks Like
A week before Christmas 2016 I documented the last minute courthouse wedding for William & Josh.
William and Josh decided to get married before Trump took office on January 20th, 2017; they were afraid and unsure of the future, of the unknowns. Of course they were planning on getting married eventually, but they felt rushed and compelled to do so before their right to be married could be questioned. Quite literally, the unknowns - we really do not know what the Trump administration will do with LGBTQ rights. Rushing to the courthouse to seal the deal was a reaction to fear of the future, but also sort of a big middle finger to Trump and his buddies. Fearing the ability to be together legally, feeling like your identity is being compromised once again, and that you may have to hide who you are, is really scary. Many people who are LGBTQ have had this feeling of being in hiding or feeling like they have to hide parts of themselves. During the Obama years, our country has become more accepting of all identities. People who are gay could get married, could tell their bosses, parents, and be out without fear. Now, our government may try to be big bullies again - unfortunately that it not going to fly.
For those of you who haven't had a fear for your marriage or your ability to be married or become married - are experiencing heterosexual privileges. This is similar to white privilege, except it refers to sexuality, not race.
Heterosexual privilege simply means that you are a part of a system that favors or gives unearned privileges to straight/heterosexual people. By simply being straight, you experience certain advantages in various aspects of life, including work, family, law, education, etc. Many of these privileges go unnoticed because they are invisible norms played out by the dominant group; these norms are embedded into our society and into our everyday lives.
For example, not having to think about your marriage right is a privilege - I'm pretty sure heterosexual people will never need to worry or fear about their rights regarding who they love. Worrying about your marriage right or other rights is a burden that is felt by many in the LGBTQ community. If you are straight, it doesn't at all imply you are a bad person, or have done anything spiteful against gay people, it just means that you experience certain invisible privileges that you don't even realize. You are a part of a system that gives you certain advantages, many that go unnoticed because they are the experience of the majority group.
It is important as straight people to stand up for our LGBTQ friends and empathize with their experiences. Just like we need men to fight for women's rights, white people for racial equality, and middle/upper class people for the poor, we need heterosexual people to fight for homosexual people. We need those with privileges to support those without so we can all take down the powerful together. It's first important to acknowledge and accept your privilege, and then commit to helping others win those same advantages.
Please let me know if you have any questions or want to discuss this topic in more detail.