Heteronormativity: a simple concept and a depressingly accurate reflection of our society: the assumption that all individuals are divided into 2 categories, determined by genitalia, which presupposes sexual attraction for the opposite gender, and often life-long societal roles.
There is no denying that such a presumption exists amongst the general population; the status quo of cisgenderedness and heterosexuality stamped on every newborn. Those individuals who grow up to realise they fall outside one or both of these categories will, more often than not, feel incredibly isolated as a result: society’s proverbial ‘closet’ for the LGBT+ individual, out of which the struggle to escape is all-consumingly terrifying for most.
As a gay man, the hardest part of accepting that I existed outside of the status quo was coming out to myself. I had never been educated about homosexuality and ‘gay’ was only ever an insult. Isolation and depression overtook. The fault attributable to society.
Fortunately change is in the air, with legislative progression and public support of the LGBT+ community. The influx of ‘coming out’ videos and stories on the internet provide strength for those struggling with their sexuality. Advocates of LGBT+ rights, such as Sir Ian McKellen and Laverne Cox, are educating the public. Prejudices are being uprooted, so we are moving in the right direction. A movement which shouldn’t cease until heteronormativity exists alongside other prejudices of the past.
What more can we do? Remove unnecessarily gender-specific targeting, often based in commercial products. Educate our children without pretending that they are all heterosexual and cisgender. Finally let these children explore their individuality, and embrace who they are without any presumptions. That way, one day, ‘coming out’ will be far less of a scary process, and maybe even unnecessary.