Literature and Media are two very diverse, very complex categories; and while one would think that the topic of Queer narrows down the field of material a bit, queer in fact further complicates the discussion. I say this because of the history of queer, and the history of the word “homosexual”–a word that, like all others, was invented. Siobhan Somerville points out this invention in the article “Scientific Racism and the Invention of the Homosexual Body”. Before the coining of the word homosexual, “gay” behavior was never seen as anything other than that: a behavior. It was still a taboo act in many cultures and societies, but was not necessarily considered a flaw of the individual until the late 1800’s, which really, is not that long ago.
As such, when homosexuality became seen as more than a behavior, so did the opinion that gayness had a biological cause, and that those who were homosexual were inherently different on the inside. At this time, homosexuality was seen to be an “inversion” of what one’s sexual role should be; that a woman who is attracted to women has the sexual role of a man. (Personally, I wonder how much of this contributed to the conflation of homosexuality and being transgender, as well as the false notion that all trans folk are both binary trans and straight.) The inversion of one’s sexual role of course, pins heterosexuality as the default, and that any variations thereupon are wrong or unnatural or even queer. This idea of homosexuality, surprisingly, culminated around the same time that the US government deemed racial segregation to be constitutional; it wasn’t just heterosexuality that was the default, but whiteness too.
Homophobia and racism both exist in and as institutions in the United States. An institution, as defined by Geoffrey M. Hodgson in the article “What are Institutions?”, is something far less tangible than one would think. An institution in this sense is a system of norms and rules that, through language and social interactions, shape, enable, and constrain behavior. And through necessity of enforcement, to defy an institution’s rules has consequences: ridicule, a range of severity in social outcast, and even death, to name a few. So then if, among other things, a person is best advised to be white and heterosexual, it follows that there are consequences to not being these things. And because of the way the notion of homosexuality is constructed, the inversion of one’s sexual role, their queerness, is visible to the outside world. In the introduction of NoBody Passes, Mattilda Sycamore expands this visible overstepping of norms into the overwhelming, inter-marginalized institution of homonormativity. This institution, borne of oppression, functions as a way to “fix” the unfixable queers. To be homonormative is to come as close as possible, as a gay person, to being a straight person. To be a “good” gay is to be in a monogamous relationship that mirrors the hetero dominant/masculine-submissive/feminine dynamic, as well as of course policing the behaviors of other gays and queers. From this Oppressive Institution of the Oppressed, comes the need of the marginalized to fit into the status quo, to not be seen as different, and to be more “normal” than normal people ever could.
Also, I couldn’t decide on a single image that summed this all up, so here’s a few:
^^^^^This just in, all gay cisgender people are actually transgender. And all gay transgender people aren’t actually trans at all.
^^^^Because disobeying the institution is BAD.
^^^^^Because there has to be some biological proof that gays are different…. right?