We were all sitting in a bar, unwinding with a few vodka sodas after a ridiculous workweek, when in walks the sweetest couple. They were probably on one of their first dates, and one of them brought the other flowers. They seemed completely lost in each other.
We were all smiling at them, secretly wishing we could have a little romance in our lives like they did, when my friend scooted in a little closer to me. “They’re so cute,” she whispered. “Which one do you think is the girl and which do you think is the boy?”
I wish it was just an innocent slip-up, that she didn’t really mean it and that she wasn’t being malicious. But the truth is, whether she knew it or not, her question was full of ignorance and bigotry and the single mindedness that’s all too common in our heteronormative society.
You see, the two that were sharing the bar with us that night were lesbians (or at least two girls on a date with each other). And while none of my gal pals seemed at all bothered by the couple, I was certainly bothered by my friends.
What my friend didn’t really seem to understand was that neither of them was “the boy.” They both appeared to be girls, and that’s the point. If one of them wanted to be with a boy, she wouldn’t be a lesbian.
The thing is, this kind of question is not at all uncommon. You hear it all the time when you see a gay couple where one of the guys seems “a little more into his looks,” and people assume he’s “the girl,” or when a lesbian has a pixie cut and rocks a rad suit at her wedding. Like what the hell, guys? Are we so effing stuck in a heteronormative mindset that we have to assign these two individuals a gender role in a “traditional” straight couple?
And heteronormative culture is all over the place – not just in bigoted (or at least ignorant) comments about who’s who in same-sex couples. How many times have we read a dating advice article where the writer describes “how to get the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend?” Don’t we think it should say “how to get the perfect significant other?”
It’s time to stop assuming most people are straight…
What kills me is thinking about what’s taken away from same-sex couples when people ask “which one is the girl.” You’re not asking about how long they’ve been dating, or how they met, or any number of things that would let into their love story. Instead, you’re saying that they’re different, that their sexuality is something that you don’t understand, that it’s a source of your curiosity. You’re making it about you, when their relationship should be about them.
It isn’t enough to be “cool with gay marriage,” or to go support at the Pride festival every year. It’s time that we start accepting all sexual preferences – really accepting them – as the norm and a part of society.