I write a decent amount about sexuality here, and all over the web you can read articles about queer community. But I rarely talk about the straight community. We have an overdose of straight culture super-injected into us on a five-thousand-times-a-day basis, but there’s a serious shortage of straight community.
Let me ask you a few questions. Mull them over, then get back to me in the comments. I really want to hear what you have to say.
Where do straight youth turn when they have questions about sexuality?
Google? Reddit? Teh interwebz in general? I can tell you one thing from my experience working with straight youth (and having once been one myself ): they don’t turn to each other. And they rarely turn to their parents. There are a lot of really dedicated sex ed folks out there who have clinics, teach classes, and reach out, but their reach is far from ultimate — and their reception by parents and schools is far from universally positive. Sex is taboo.
Most people would argue that gay sex is even more taboo than straight sex. But the funny thing is that, in this case, the taboo creates a subculture where individuals feel more comfy opening up about things. Apparently two taboos make a right.
Where are the positive straight celebrity role models?
Straight youth can’t look anywhere without seeing straight role models. But who do we celebrate? Snooki. Or, more generally, we celebrate disasters. Big celebrity breakups, cheating, scandals, Snooki. It’s terrible. There are a few movies I’ve watched that tell the story of what I would describe to be a healthy, relatable straight couple (of the thousands — literally thousands — I’ve watched), but I can’t think of a single straight-in-real-life role model. And I can’t think of any remarkable celebrity-infused wellness campaigns directed to straight youth (and we have plenty of need — I don’t think it’s the gay teens who are getting pregnant at record rates).
I guess what I’m really asking is where’s the straight version of Neil Patrick Harris? NPH is a fantastic role model for gay youth (really for everyone, don’t get me wrong), and he goes out of his way to make himself so. Have you seen his It Gets Better video? If not, you should. And it’s more than that, trust me. He’s a great gay role model. Ditto goes for Ellen.
You might have in your mind examples of positive celeb role models and be thinking Sam, you’re on crack. There are WAY more straight celebrity role models. There are a ton of positive role models who are straight, absolutely, but I can’t think of any who focus on their straight identity as a way to connect with straight youth. At most, it’s an afterthought.
Where is the embracement of straight sexual preferences/fetishes?
Unfurl your eyebrows for a second and give me three paragraphs to explain and I bet you’ll be on my side.
The queer community does a fantastic job of celebrating in-group sexual diversity. Subcultures with emphases on different types of sexual relationships flourish, which is good, because guess what: not everyone is into the same stuff. There are even some mobile dating apps for particular subcultures. Are you into bears (heavy-set men, usually hairy-bodied and -faced)? Download Growlr. As a result, sexual compatibility is thrown into the should-we-date-or-shouldn’t-we criteria pool. And that’s a good thing.
Hey, straight people, listen up: you’re not all into the same stuff either. In fact, a lot of straight relationships fail because of sexual incompatibly, and a heckuvalot of people end up settling. Why? Because we find out too late. It’s not exactly okay to air that stuff out in a first, second, or third date. Hell, most straight people wont even talk about sex with someone after they’ve had sex with them. Because it’s, like, I dunno, weird.
Let’s do a quick survey. Which do you think is going to play a larger role in relationship satisfaction? (a) Your partner’s hometown or (b) how they like to get down. Now, which are you more likely to know about someone after a couple of dates? That’s, like, oh yeah, weird.
Where is the straight community?
We need to stop thinking about being straight as being the “default” option, and everything else as being an identity. I think I’m uniquely aware of this because I’m frequently coming out as straight. I’ve learned I’m also weird in that I’m mentally cognizant of my straight friends’ straightness the same way most straight people are only aware of their gay friends’ gayness. It’s because I appreciate sexuality as one of many defining characteristics in all of our identities — straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, queer, questioning, and the lot. And I connect with people on a sexuality level (no double entendre intended) in addition to the various other intersecting and diverse identities we all express.
Raising straight people’s saliency of their sexuality will open the door for a healthier relationship with sex, and a better understanding of romantic relationships. Also, and this is my only ulterior motive, it will create a better understanding of sexuality in general, which (I hope) will lead to acceptance of all forms of sexuality.
Straight people have it really good already. I know that. But considering the overwhelming amount of advantages we have going for us, we really suck at this stuff. We can learn a lot from our queer counterparts. And hey, in return, maybe we can stop being such horrible people to them. Deal? Deal.