What is homonormativity? Simply is saying you’re not like other gay men, for example dismissing Asian men in the club because, while you respect Asian men, you’re “just not attracted” to them. Or thinking differently about someone you love social media, but you see they use a wheelchair. Homonormativity is gay men dominating queer television representation and white cis men playing transgender women. Or how a nation organized for gay marriage, but not for transgender lives. Homonormativity is a privileging set of hierarchies, social norms, and expectations that cause the oppressed to oppress one another.
It is everywhere. Permeating just about every fiber of queer life, ruining the community from inside out and top to bottom. It has become a set of rules used to decide which people in the queer community are the best. It dictates that men should be muscular and masculine, and women should be slender and feminine. To mimicking heterosexual by getting married, attend church, live in a suburban neighborhood or adopt children. These aspirations are not necessarily bad or negative, but they can determine traits and lifestyle choices such as who we interact with, who we help or support.
It has made gay marriage priority number one, as transgender people still cannot use a bathroom safely, viciously abused by the prison system and fired for being who they are. Homonormativity, in essence, wants to control how we feel about ourselves and others as it tries to attempt to morph the queer community into a heterosexual community.
Outside of elite, intellectual text homonormativity is not well known to the community and only because it takes a while to understand and often difficult to most people. This is a big deal!
When you find people who are trying to express the oppression they are feeling but can’t, you understand that the information is somehow inaccessible and has left an entire generation of queer people who don’t understand that shaming and disliking people who are feminine is wrong. As a gay man, I am somewhat feminine and I understand how cruel, ageist, racist and downright narcissistic gay men can be. I had to learn to navigate through the trauma and oppression which in turn allowed me to advocate for myself.
It’s important that we need homonormativity to lose power over us because it tears communities apart, wrecks lives and even kills. Homonormativity can explain why masculine gay men are often left alone, tolerated at worst and accepted at best, by society, while feminine gay men are still frequently attacked by aggressive mobs on the daily. It explains legislation against the transgender community based on accusations and stereotypes about them, and use the bathroom as the main issue for making them use the bathroom of their sex at birth.
The change in the community has to start within to be conscious about how we conduct ourselves in public and how we talk, both physically and online. Recognize our own privileges and adjust accordingly. It’s about letting queer people be queer people and just stop creating molds in a world that want us to be less like us.
It’s really just about understanding there is no right way to be gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Once we name homonormativity, understand its effects it loses control over us.