The Burdens Of Being Heterosexual

Knowing the emotional turmoil I would cause if I honestly answered his questions, I always answered no. In an effort to fuel the believability of my answer, I would go as far as showing him photos of women I had in my phone. I was (and still am) his only son, and the hetero-normative society we live in says it is my job to carry on the family name, to spread my seed, to procreate, to get married to a woman and provide for a family. That same society is responsible for countless LGBTQ teen deaths, committed by those who so desperately try to “fit in.”

I found myself in similar situations that I faced during my childhood as I got older: constant plaguing questions about my sexual orientation, ridicule for playing tennis instead of football, reading instead of rapping, and engaging in extracurricular school activities instead of chasing after the plethora of single women gracing the halls of my high school.

Adult men are faced with a unique challenge when it comes to protecting the sacredness of their heterosexuality; it becomes intertwined with protecting their masculinity. We start battling with other men mentally, physically, and emotionally. Who has the more attractive girl, whose biceps and dick is the biggest (contradiction?), which one of us is making the most money, and drives the fancier car. Our obligations to heterosexuality are loaded with living up to the expectations of similar systems of oppression; patriarchy, capitalism, and being adept on the latest homophobic slur. As men, there are levels of heterosexuality that you must prove yourself worthy of reaching, not only to other men, but also to women. The expectations are more stringent, and the consequences of being labeled the “punk bitch” are even more detrimental to the wellbeing of one’s manhood.

It is our duty as humans to not only challenge that which many of us have been indoctrinated to believe, but also to take an uncharted, individually-invented journey into the free world of sexuality, gender and sexual orientation. It is time we stop allowing toys, placement and type of jewelry, colors, social activities, and our desire to follow the oppressive rules of procreation and hetero-normativity control our lives. It is time women end this search for the mirage of a “real man,” and for women to stop being criticized for not being “lady-like.” It is time for men to cease the perpetuation of the unwinnable masculine battle. Our masculinity is not determined by anyone else but us. There are no authentic guides, books or maps to manhood. It captures us at the least expected moments, and is supposed to leave us vulnerable to the unexpected. We should be elated when certain expressions and behaviors are characterized as feminine; then and only then will we escape the egregious label of being the savage beast.

  • Brent

    Good read! I always wondered why we would question some things as “the standard.” this also equates to heteronormative behaviors. I remember growing up playing with my cousins dolls or school. As the only child, I wanted to play with every and anything when I was away from the house. Parents play a huge role in keeping the tradition going. Forcing and pandering sexuality at a young age is stupid.

  • Sean

    This is true Brent. I also believe that when we start to police the behaviors of children according to their gender it stifles their creativity as they start to progress through life. Many children just are not afforded the opportunity to be children because they are so heavily ridiculed and critiqued for every little thing that they do. It is important for us to allow people to develop according to their individual level of comfort.

  • BougieHippie

    Really brilliant article. One of the many things I love about my parents is that they let me and my brother do just about about anything “manly” or “girly” they was more concerned with finding what works for us. I do remember one time my dad being concerned about my constant play with a Snow White doll I got as a prize but he got over it after seeing it was just that “play.” I think this nature v nurture thing is not only prevalent in dealing with homos but heteros as well. As for me & my parents it wasn’t for shame or gender roles it was more so survival. Because my dad didn’t want to know if I was gay to ridicule me but to prepare me.

    • Sean

      Thank you. I find it interesting that you mention the nurture vs. nature perspective and how your parents allowed you to play with dolls to discover your own identity. Just the other night while in Wal-Mart, I saw a young Black couple with their young son and they gave him a doll to play with. As a Women’s Studies major and someone who actively critiques gender roles, I was shocked yet happy to see this behavior; so I asked the mother while she allowed this. The mother stated to me that this was how she teaches her son to be affectionate, and that is really irritating when people have to distinguish between toys. I applauded this couple and felt that if more people raised their children in this manner we would not be dealing with the massive amount of bullying in schools, among other things.

  • Lady Tre

    Can I get credit on my photo?

    • Drew-Shane

      Please forward us the valid proof and we will happily remove the requested material or give the proper credit- Thanks!!

  • Rafael Mutis

    While I appreciate the writing and the naming of how gender and sexuality oppression impacts straight men, this is but a small part of what the rest of us face. Thank you for stepping up, let’s all end this stupid policing of who we are or who we are perceived to be, so we can all live, love and heal like the vibrant humans we are!