Category: gay relationships

What Is Heteronormativity?

What Is Heteronormativity?

This is how it’s defined by wiki:

Heteronormativity is the body of lifestyle norms that hold that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life. It presumes that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation or only norm, and states that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between people of opposite sexes. Consequently, a “heteronormative” view is one that involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity, and gender roles. Heteronormativity is linked to heterosexism and homophobia.

This is from Civil Liberties Blog:

Definition: Heteronormativity is the cultural bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships of a sexual nature, and against same-sex relationships of a sexual nature. Because the former are viewed as normal and the latter are not, lesbian and gay relationships are subject to a heteronormative bias.

Two similar definitions, no argument with either of them. But if you take all this to another level, and talk about heteronormativity in a different context outside of its classic meaning, it’s gets interesting.

I ran across a post earlier today that talked about heteronormativity and owning the American Dream…in this case it was home ownership and laws. The post talked about LGBT home ownership and how it seems to be promoted through the concept of heteronormativity, and I didn’t find anything fundamentally wrong with it on the surface. The only issue I had was that it didn’t go into anything more than text book details, and clearly was not written by an LGBT person who has had any personal experience within the LGBT community. In other words, the extent to which the issue of LGBT home ownership and things like taxes went into only touched the surface and the author has no idea how complicated it can get. This is especially true with same-sex marriage not being legal in some states, where same-sex couples are required to pay inheritance taxes when one partner passes…unlike heteronormative couples.

To give two examples of how complicated this can get:

I knew a lesbian couple who were together for forty years. When one passed away the other avoided paying federal and state inheritance taxes because the one who passed away willed the property to a local museum as charity. She also made a provision in the will that the surviving partner would be able to live out the rest of her days in their home. Upon the surviving partner’s death, the home then goes to the museum. This is perfectly legal to do.

I knew a gay couple who did something I can’t repeat in writing here. They had friends in the county courthouse; the surviving partner did not pay inheritance taxes.

And the heteronormativity concept, or how the government and society promotes this with laws, is not just about inheritance taxes and tax benefits, because this comes into play:

When gay couples purchase a home and they are not married (and I would assume this is the same thing for straight couples who don’t marry, too…a growing trend in our society), it’s not always a 50-50 ownership as it is with heteronormative couples. In many cases I’ve known gay couples who have an agreement where it’s an 80-20 partnership, or whatever arrangement they’ve worked out. This means one of the people in this same-sex relationship owns more than the other, or, in most cases one has more control over the other…control being the key word here. This happens a great deal in gay culture, where one is more powerful than the other. And because so many gay men are held back and kept down all their lives, they are willing to suffer through anything to get that stability…even abuse from a controlling partner. In some cases there are gay couples in long term relationship and one of them never knows what it’s like to own anything tangible. He or she lives with the fear of losing everything every day of his or her life. So the way in which gay couples have been dealing with home ownership and finances has varied throughout the years, and now that gay marriage is legal in so many places I think that’s going to change and evolve into a more heteronormative lifestyle, which is this case comes down to protection and security that are promoted by these heteronormative laws.

And with that change comes a certain amount of heteronormativity. In this case it goes far beyond the proverbial American Dream and that proverbial white picket fence. In this case both partners in a same-sex relationship will be held to the same standards and laws as any married straight couple, if the same-sex couple is allowed to marry legally. And that will make them equals in a way many gay men and women haven’t been equals in the history of this country within their own gay culture, and yes, even those who have been in long term relationship because they didn’t know what else to do to survive. I don’t think I’ve seen this portrayed any better than in the recent HBO film about Liberace, Behind the Candelabra. If Liberace had been married to his younger partner, you can be damn certain he would have been paying alimony and the partner would have received some kind of property. But in that case, Liberace held all the power, as many wealthy gay men and women without his notoriety do all over the country. And those who do not hold that power usually wind up with nothing in the end, despite anything they put into the relationship.

I know many won’t understand this at a glance, and I’m NOT promoting heteronormativity by any means. I’m just stating examples of how sometimes heteronormativity in a convoluted way helps gay couples, and here’s an example I think is something most of us have either experienced or seen. I have a family member, a male, who bought his home with money he’d saved working while he was single. When he met a woman and married, she came to the marriage with nothing of financial worth (no tangible assets). Nothing wrong with that. Many couples start out that way, and these two were both still very young. As time passed, they had kids, they both worked hard, and dreamed of HEA. However, at one point in the marriage the wife decided she wanted a divorce. Of course it was more complicated than that, but I want to keep this simple. And when she divorced the man she received half of everything he owned, including his property and his pension, which is how this works in the state of New Jersey. If this had been a gay relationship and the same-sex couple had not been legally married, the partner who came to the relationship with nothing tangible would not have received anything…unless he was particularly litigious. Most of the time they still get nothing in the end.

There is this concept out there that all gay couples are these perfect people incapable of any wrongdoing. When the fact is that there are just as many sleazy abusive gay men and women as straight men and women. And one thing legalizing same-sex marriage will do for many vulnerable gay people is to protect them and give them the same rights as straight couples. And in this case, the concept of heteronormativity isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. I always see the argument that heteronormativity is a negative thing, and that it’s promoting an agenda that may or may not be fair to everyone. But the fact is that gay and straight couples are not all that different by nature, especially when it comes to anything that involves finances and property…or gender power. And even though all gay couples work out various arrangements just like straight couples (pre-nups), it’s virtually impossible for them to keep their finances separate if they remain together for a long period of time.

So this notion of heteronormativity can get more involved than what’s just on the surface. I try not to get into things that are this text book technical in fiction, but here on the blog I think it’s important to talk about these things sometimes no matter how complicated they are, because there are many gray areas that people who aren’t gay don’t realize. And while I despise the general concept of heteronormativity in the classic sense because it promotes this image of what we are all supposed to be like, there are times I think it’s important to have laws and rules that also protect gay people in the heteronormative sense from some of the issues that have been in gay culture for a long, long time.

I actually know gay men who will state that they will not even entertain the idea of taking a partner unless he can come to the relationship with his own money and pay his own expenses…or half of the expenses. You don’t hear that often in the heteronormative world, especially now with changing roles where women are starting to earn more money than men. 

Spike Lee Kickstarter Fail; Oxford Dictionary Adds Gay Marriage; UK Same Sex Relationships

Spike Lee Kickstarter Fail

They are saying that this summer has been the worst in years for feature films, and box office sales are down record levels in some cases. It’s not completely dismal, and some things are working, but that seems to be thanks to the biggest stars that always seem to draw people into the theaters, not the content of the films. I know that when I see Greg Kinear’s name on a film, I’m going to like it.

This is telling, and a sign of the times. It’s been happening in publishing for the last five years:

But the movies are undergoing yet another period of transformation. With the increasing appeal of cable and digital entertainment, and the bottoming-out of the home video market, Hollywood has tried to lure moviegoers with bigger (and more expensive) 3-D extravaganzas.

As usual, there’s rebellion in the works from filmmakers who feel marginalized by the studios’ shrinking purview. Spike Lee on Monday announced that he would seek financing for his next feature film through the online crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter.

People are spending thousands of dollars to design custom home theaters and they either stream or buy/rent on demand now. Tony and I haven’t watched a DVD or a video in ages. We either stream or rent on demand. Most of the people I know do the same thing.

But that line about Spike Lee and kickstarter bothers me. I’ve been a supporter of kickstarter before, in many cases. I think that it’s a great way for “starving” artists to get a jumpstart and prove to the world they have talent and that talent always wins out in the end. I’ve even contributed to a few projects. But when I see people like Spike Lee taking hard earned money from people who haven’t got a fraction of what he’s worth, it really irritates me. In other words, mortgage the mansion, spend and invest your own money, and back your own projects, Spike. That’s what I do with my indie books, because it wouldn’t feel right taking money from people that way to me. In other words, Spike, put your OWN money where big your mouth is.

These Hollywood people who have started hocking people on kickstarter really bothers me to no end. It’s as if they have this sense of entitlement, and it’s changing my opinion of kickstarter. There’s an old saying that goes something like this, and it reminds me of Spike Lee begging for money: He cried poor mouth with two loaves of bread under each arm.

Oxford Dictionary Adds Gay Marriage

I’d heard that the Oxford English Dictionary was thinking about revising and adding gay marriage, but now it seems official.

Evidently, they are constantly watching words all the time to see how they change and how they reflect what we are trying to communicate. Communication is constantly evolving, and many times the changes are indicative of common usage.

As it stands, defines marriage as being a ‘formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognised by law, by which they become husband and wife.’
In a reference, it says marriage could also be ‘(in some jurisdictions) a union between partners of the same sex’.

UK Same Sex Relationships

In this article, they dive into same sex relationships and the issues that can, and often do, arise. The problem is that those in same sex relationships aren’t always prepared for what’s coming along, and they tend to jump into relationships without knowing anything. This is one reason I’ve been so worried about younger gay couples running out to get married right away. And I’ve posted many times about how older gay couples were excellent role models for Tony and me when we first started out.

They are asking people for advice in what looks like an interesting survey. I would have taken it myself, but it says the survey is nationwide in the UK, and I assume that doesn’t include US residents. In any event, I found some of the definitions about how they define same sex relationships to be excellent.

Researchers at Sunderland and Leicester Universities invite you to take part in a UK-wide survey, to understand what you do when things go wrong in your same-sex, bisexual and/or trans relationships. Recent Equality legislation requires that services respond appropriately to those in same-sex, bi and/or trans relationships who might need help or advice. We believe that the best way to ensure this is to ask you about your experiences and what you need, so that we can feed that back to them.

Anne Rice Responds to Open Letter; Gay Relationship Advice from Friends; Power of "I Don’t Know"

This is the last post about the Anne Rice incident for a while, but since she responded to an open letter someone wrote with regard to a recent incident involving a blogger and Rice’s fans, I figured I would follow up.

And the simplest way to do that is to provide this link to Rice’s facebook page where she posted a link to the open letter and asked her fans to remain civil with their comments.

It’s interesting to note some of those comments on Rice’s facebook page, because it shows how people have various impressions of how authors/readers should react to reviews. I’ve always believed authors shouldn’t react in public at all…unless of course the reviewer spells the author’s name wrong, or gets something factually wrong with the book.

Rice makes this comment on facebook:

One comment I’d like to make: publishing an extended negative criticism of a a book or a person on the internet is not a private act. It’s a public act. Perhaps sometimes bloggers forget this. Yes, in our culture everyone is entitled to have an opinion and express that opinion on just about everything; and when you make your opinions public, well, sometimes people are going to disagree with you. That is to be expected.

I don’t have any strong opinions about this. It’s the author/reader’s choice to react any way they want (or not react), and I’m not going to tell anyone how to do that.  Because that would fall under the category of none of my business.

Gay Relationship Advice from Friends

I found this article interesting because I often get e-mails asking me for advice about gay relationships, and sometimes I have trouble responding. And that’s because all relationships are different, all people are different, and everyone’s circumstances are different. The best I can do is relate with my own personal experiences with my partner of twenty years.  

But what about taking advice from friends? That’s even more interesting because in my personal life I have basically stopped giving out advice to friends. And the main reason for this is because my advice is always so good, and so right, I get annoyed when people don’t take it. I’m only joking around, of course. But I have learned that unless someone asks for my advice, I keep it to myself. Most of the time people are going to do what they want to do and any advice people give them will go in one ear and right out the other…me included.

But what happens when you fall for someone you never expected, and things are far more complicated then you ever thought they would be? If our friends are there for us they will understand that the person they aren’t too keen on is the person that makes us the happiest. You may think your friend’s boyfriend/girlfriend is the biggest idiot/prick/your favourite insult in the world, but it doesn’t hurt (that much) to whack a smile on and try.

I can’t even tell you how many times that’s happened to me. And I have learned, trust me, whack on that smile and try because if your friend is in love with an asshole there’s nothing you’re going to do to change that. And if this is a good friend, you’ll have to remain silent until he or she realizes they are with an asshole. That’s what usually happens.

You can read more here.

Power of “I Don’t Know”

In this NYT article by Tim Kreider, the concept of not knowing everything is discussed in a way I think all authors can relate to at one point or another. Especially if you’ve ever done one of those blogtalk interviews alone. When you write about something, you’re automatically considered an expert on the topic, and everyone expects you to know all the answers. The problem with that is no one knows all the answers…I could be snarky here but I won’t…and sometimes it’s better to be honest and say, “I don’t know.”

Whenever someone writes to take me politely to task over some unfair generalization, self-contradiction or unexamined blind spot, my riposte is usually something along the lines of: “Hm, yeah, I guess you have a point there.” I don’t always agree with me; I certainly don’t expect everyone else to.

You can get there from here. Although, I have to admit that sometimes it can be very entertaining to ask a so-called expert his or her opinion, knowing full well they don’t have the slightest clue, and watch them circle the airport so to speak. Very rarely will you find someone honest enough to actually say, “I don’t know.” Just watch any politician in Washington respond to a question about healthcare.