And Your Bride-to-Be?17 min read

Aug 9, 2018 | Queer 101 | 0 comments

   I’m getting married this year! In fact it’s like 8 weeks away, and I am feeling all the feelings about it. Anyone who has ever planned a wedding knows that there are so many people to call and talk to and plan to orchestrate the whole thing. In my relationship, I’m that person, and I love it. It has been fun to pick venues, build our wedding website, and taste test cake! My fiancé and I aren’t particularly tied to any of the major traditional aspects of a wedding, which has made it fun to figure out how we want our wedding to be outside of the expectation. However, there are certain things that must be done, like getting tuxedos or reserving hotel rooms. These mundane tasks have taken an interesting turn for me as the planner. Every call I make and email I receive is drenched in good old heteronormativity. For those of you who see that word and think, “here we go again, another new crazy word for me to worry about,” I’ll try to explain it quickly.

   In short, heteronormativity is when, as a default, you assume every person you’re speaking to is straight, and that accordingly, everything they do is done like a straight person would do it. A super simple, but very common example is asking your son if he likes any girls at school. It’s a really common, and very cute question. And yet, if that child is LGBTQ+, he can’t really answer it. And if he does answer it honestly by saying “no, but there are a few cute boys,” he’s making the decision to come out, which we all know is a big deal.

“Every call I make and email I receive is drenched in good old heteronormativity”

   I just wanted to book a block of hotel rooms for our families coming into New York City for the wedding. I called a few hotels and spoke to many representatives to figure out which place and which price point were the best. Every single call, which often involved both a receptionist and a sales person, went like this:

Me: Hi there, I am getting married in October and have family coming in from out of state. We’re looking to set aside a block of rooms for them, who should I chat with about that?
Receptionist: Oh my goodness, congratulations to you and your bride-to-be! When is the wedding? Do you and she both have family flying in to New York?
Me: Well, I’m… uh, he… my fiancé, Nicholas, and I both have family flying in from out of town… It’s in October.
Receptionist: Oh, okay, well, let me connect you to our sales department…
Salesperson: Hi there, I’m a salesperson for ____ hotel. I hear you’re interested in a block of rooms for your wedding?
Me: Yup, we’re getting married in early October.
Salesperson: Congratulations to you and your bride-to-be! You and she must be so excited. Now how many family members do you expect from your family and her family total?
Me: My fiancé… Nicholas… and I… HE and I are expecting X number of people.
Salesperson: Oh, okay, well let’s see what we have available….

   Every single call went like this. And I’m sure there will be those people who say, “this is harmless… no big deal… why does it bother you?” To which I would respond, “Queer visibility saves lives.” We have the words already. Every person could have said, “and your fiancé’s family?” or “will your spouse’s family need rooms too?” We live in a culture that prioritizes straight people, especially around the act of getting married. This may seem like no big deal, but I want you to do something: tomorrow just take a picture of every time you see heteronormativity advertised somewhere. Tag me on Instagram @theproudpath and put the hashtag #heteronormativity. Open your eyes to the dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times in a day media highlights straight relationships. Every commercial, every billboard, every movie, everything. I would ask you to do the opposite and take a picture of every time you see a queer relationship, but it would be very few and far between. At the end of it all, ask yourself how you would feel if it were flipped. If every time you saw a photo it was two women, or gender non-conforming people, trans people, two men, etc. what would you think?

I did a little experiment just getting this blog post ready. I went to my favorite stock image site and just typed one word: couple. These are the most prevalent images that appeared in the search:

Not a single image out of approximately 50 that I saw over three pages of options showed a same-sex couple.

“…every time you see heteronormativity advertised somewhere… tag me on Instagram @theproudpath with the hashtag #heteronormativity.”

   I want to add one more layer of awareness to this discussion. The current administration is prioritizing a religious right to refuse service. Since the court ruling on the cake baker who refused to make a gay wedding cake, many businesses have followed suit in saying they no longer serve queer clientele. A childhood friend, who is a wonderful father, along with his husband, tried to adopt a child and the judge simply said, “no, because as a Christian I can’t do that.” We really live in a country right now that hasn’t made a firm stance on ending queer discrimination. Now I ask again, how do you think I feel outing myself to every person I speak to about my wedding? What might happen after that moment of honesty?

I’ll leave you with this, queer people see gender all day long. We are aware of every time heteronormative expectations are marketed at us. We know that it isn’t because people want us to feel bad. We know that’s just the way things are. But, what if it could change? What can you do starting today to change it? Use more gender non-specific words like partner or fiance? Ask your kids if they like anyone at school, not just girls or boys? Just pick something simple, something doable, and give it a shot. You literally could save a life because queer visibility saves lives.

Please comment below with your thoughts about this post, as well as how this little experiment turns out and I’ll be on the lookout for all your #heteronormative posts on Instagram!

   I’m getting married this year! In fact it’s like 8 weeks away, and I am feeling all the feelings about it. Anyone who has ever planned a wedding knows that there are so many people to call and talk to and plan to orchestrate the whole thing. In my relationship, I’m that person, and I love it. It has been fun to pick venues, build our wedding website, and taste test cake! My fiancé and I aren’t particularly tied to any of the major traditional aspects of a wedding, which has made it fun to figure out how we want our wedding to be outside of the expectation. However, there are certain things that must be done, like getting tuxedos or reserving hotel rooms. These mundane tasks have taken an interesting turn for me as the planner. Every call I make and email I receive is drenched in good old heteronormativity. For those of you who see that word and think, “here we go again, another new crazy word for me to worry about,” I’ll try to explain it quickly.

   In short, heteronormativity is when, as a default, you assume every person you’re speaking to is straight, and that accordingly, everything they do is done like a straight person would do it. A super simple, but very common example is asking your son if he likes any girls at school. It’s a really common, and very cute question. And yet, if that child is LGBTQ+, he can’t really answer it. And if he does answer it honestly by saying “no, but there are a few cute boys,” he’s making the decision to come out, which we all know is a big deal.

“Every call I make and email I receive is drenched in good old heteronormativity”

   I just wanted to book a block of hotel rooms for our families coming into New York City for the wedding. I called a few hotels and spoke to many representatives to figure out which place and which price point were the best. Every single call, which often involved both a receptionist and a sales person, went like this:

Me: Hi there, I am getting married in October and have family coming in from out of state. We’re looking to set aside a block of rooms for them, who should I chat with about that?
Receptionist: Oh my goodness, congratulations to you and your bride-to-be! When is the wedding? Do you and she both have family flying in to New York?
Me: Well, I’m… uh, he… my fiancé, Nicholas, and I both have family flying in from out of town… It’s in October.
Receptionist: Oh, okay, well, let me connect you to our sales department…
Salesperson: Hi there, I’m a salesperson for ____ hotel. I hear you’re interested in a block of rooms for your wedding?
Me: Yup, we’re getting married in early October.
Salesperson: Congratulations to you and your bride-to-be! You and she must be so excited. Now how many family members do you expect from your family and her family total?
Me: My fiancé… Nicholas… and I… HE and I are expecting X number of people.
Salesperson: Oh, okay, well let’s see what we have available….

   Every single call went like this. And I’m sure there will be those people who say, “this is harmless… no big deal… why does it bother you?” To which I would respond, “Queer visibility saves lives.” We have the words already. Every person could have said, “and your fiancé’s family?” or “will your spouse’s family need rooms too?” We live in a culture that prioritizes straight people, especially around the act of getting married. This may seem like no big deal, but I want you to do something: tomorrow just take a picture of every time you see heteronormativity advertised somewhere. Tag me on Instagram @theproudpath and put the hashtag #heteronormativity. Open your eyes to the dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times in a day media highlights straight relationships. Every commercial, every billboard, every movie, everything. I would ask you to do the opposite and take a picture of every time you see a queer relationship, but it would be very few and far between. At the end of it all, ask yourself how you would feel if it were flipped. If every time you saw a photo it was two women, or gender non-conforming people, trans people, two men, etc. what would you think?

I did a little experiment just getting this blog post ready. I went to my favorite stock image site and just typed one word: couple. These are the most prevalent images that appeared in the search:

Not a single image out of approximately 50 that I saw over three pages of options showed a same-sex couple.

“…every time you see heteronormativity advertised somewhere… tag me on Instagram @theproudpath with the hashtag #heteronormativity.”

   I want to add one more layer of awareness to this discussion. The current administration is prioritizing a religious right to refuse service. Since the court ruling on the cake baker who refused to make a gay wedding cake, many businesses have followed suit in saying they no longer serve queer clientele. A childhood friend, who is a wonderful father, along with his husband, tried to adopt a child and the judge simply said, “no, because as a Christian I can’t do that.” We really live in a country right now that hasn’t made a firm stance on ending queer discrimination. Now I ask again, how do you think I feel outing myself to every person I speak to about my wedding? What might happen after that moment of honesty?

I’ll leave you with this, queer people see gender all day long. We are aware of every time heteronormative expectations are marketed at us. We know that it isn’t because people want us to feel bad. We know that’s just the way things are. But, what if it could change? What can you do starting today to change it? Use more gender non-specific words like partner or fiance? Ask your kids if they like anyone at school, not just girls or boys? Just pick something simple, something doable, and give it a shot. You literally could save a life because queer visibility saves lives.

Please comment below with your thoughts about this post, as well as how this little experiment turns out and I’ll be on the lookout for all your #heteronormative posts on Instagram!

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Nathaniel Gray

Nathaniel Gray

Founder, Writer, and LGBTQ+ Empathy Mentor

Nathaniel is a social worker, mentor for parents of LGBTQ+ youth, and facilitator/empathy mentor. He started out in NYC as a singer/dancer/actor from the heartland (O-H-I-O) getting his BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. After years of performance, Nathaniel turned to working with youth, as an educator and administrator at Fusion Academy. Since then he has completed his Master’s in Social Work at Fordham University and started The Proud Path, as well as worked with the Ali Forney Center and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, agencies addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. His mission is to learn everything he can about the coming out process to assist others through it, and develop empathy within those who never have to.

Nathaniel Gray

Nathaniel Gray

Founder, Writer, and LGBTQ+ Empathy Mentor

Nathaniel is a social worker, mentor for parents of LGBTQ+ youth, and facilitator/empathy mentor. He started out in NYC as a singer/dancer/actor from the heartland (O-H-I-O) getting his BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. After years of performance, Nathaniel turned to working with youth, as an educator and administrator at Fusion Academy. Since then he has completed his Master’s in Social Work at Fordham University and started The Proud Path, as well as worked with the Ali Forney Center and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, agencies addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. His mission is to learn everything he can about the coming out process to assist others through it, and develop empathy within those who never have to.

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