The case for the renegotiation of straightness with the hope of chipping away the oppressive language towards homosexuals
For years, my conversation has largely borrowed the word ‘straight’ to refer to heterosexuals, males to be specific, as it has been more pertinent; its relevance stemming from the need to find my place, to define myself, as I have negotiated the understanding of my identity as reflected through the mirrors of them, the ‘straights.’
Nothing wrong with that, or at least that is what I have thought of this inheritance of words to identify, of nomenclature, this inheritance from those before me. And doing so, I have automatically set the precedence for many others to come, just like others that are currently doing the same.
However, recently a new realization has taken root, to be specific the egg has now become an adult butterfly. Its cradle seems to be this sense of political-ness that has impregnated me, supported by this sense of making sense of myself, of embracing my identity as a person, as I fully integrate my sexuality into my being.
So as I am typing this in the library at 20:08 on Wednesday 26th, I have vowed to stop using the word ‘straight’ to refer to heterosexuals and instead I will start using ‘heterosexuals’ exclusively and its variation ‘hetero’ to refer to those attracted sexually to the opposite sex.
Well in few words I would say that it is politically incorrect. I believe as the word ‘straight’ seeks to provide a dichotomy between us and them, it does so in a manner that paints a very positive picture about being heterosexual, the ‘norm’, that which everyone somehow should aspire to. And in doing so, this practice and the word itself adversely denigrates the identity of homosexuals and other sexualities as abnormal and negative.
I find reason in the word itself. The Oxford dictionaries define the word straight as: –
- Extending or moving uniformly in one direction only;
- Without a curve or bend;
- [Predicative] in proper order or condition;
- Not evasive or honest;
- (Of a look) bold and steady;
- (Of an alcoholic drink) undiluted;
- (Especially of drama) serious as opposed to comic or musical;
- Informal (of a person) conventional or respectable.
As I read both of these definitions a trend pertaining to the word emerges like a creature emerging from the belly of the water. And it is this trend that makes it very clear that I wouldn’t be using the word to refer to heterosexuals as ‘straights’ anymore. This trend carries under its umbrella words like without a bend, uniform, honest, proper, neat, serious, and respectable.
Now placing these words in juxtaposition with heterosexuality, it is impossible not to see that for years the heterosexuals have been riding high on a word that places their sexuality on a pedestal of being nothing but perfect; the sexuality role model of the sexualities in the box that includes homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, polysexual etc., etc.
It is like the ‘straights’ have been the correct sons the humanity, the fathers who have exemplified role-model behavior for their sons and the perfect brothers in the family, worthy of love and affection.
Of course someone might say the homosexuals have the positive word ‘gay’ that the Oxford dictionaries define as carefree and light-hearted. So one might say the word gay is also good in the spectrum of straight – gay and we shouldn’t complain too much.
Wrong. The word gay has been used negatively, as its definition although dictionary-perfect, it couldn’t prevent homosexuals from facing persecution and maltreatment from the society for ages, a trend that is still evident today in some of the societies. In fact, today, ‘he is so gay’ is not said in the most positive of the light. So the word gay hasn’t enjoyed the perfect pass of its straight rival.
But even if we take the meaning of carefree and light-hearted, this doesn’t stand a chance to sit at the same table with the word that signifies characteristics of being honest, proper, neat, serious, and respectable. In some ways, the word gay seems to be one-dimensional; it is fun but lacks depth, it is jovial but lacks seriousness, it is fee-spirited but lacks fullness of life. In fact, I have met heterosexuals who have regarded gays as so.
So I am making a vow to only use heterosexual speaking about ‘straights’. In fact, I will go a step further and say, I am a straight homosexual (one who is honest, proper, neat, serious, and respectable) just as you might be a straight heterosexual (one who is honest, proper, neat, serious, and respectable too).