There is a lot of discussion in the GLBTTQ communities about who is actually part of the “queer” community. Is it only people who sleep with those of the same gender? Does it include trans folks? Where are the lines drawn for queer?
At PTS, we see queer as those who fall outside heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is a term used to describe the marginalization of lifestyles that do not conform to societies expectation of congruity between physical sex and gender. Instances of this include the idea that people fall into two distinct categories of sex ( HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male” \o “Male” male and HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female” \o “Female” female) or gender (man and woman), that sexual and marital relations are “normal” only between people of different sexes and only with one committed/married partner at a time, and that each sex has certain “normal” roles in life. The hetero-normative view is that physical HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex” \o “Sex” sex, HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity” \o “Gender identity” gender identity, and HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_role” \o “Gender role” gender expression should always align to either all- HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male” \o “Male” male or all- HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female” \o “Female” female HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_norm” \o “Cultural norm” cultural norms. In the workshops that I facilitate on queer inclusivity, I ask the question: can someone be heterosexual and queer? This may be controversial, but I definitely think it is possible to be both heterosexual and queer!
In the time I’ve worked at PTS, and in other community work that I’ve done, I’ve met people that, despite only being attracted to people of the same gender, were very queer. Some were children of GLBTTQ parents, others were community advocates, and many more rejected the other tenants of heternormativity, including having only one partner, getting married, having children, and having only vanilla sex (not that those are bad relationship styles if they work for you).
Recognizing that the queer community is about our shared oppressions and living outside of a heteronormative model could work to further our rights and community. Being queer involves recognizing that everyone has a sexual orientation, a gender identity, varied sexual identities and preferred relationship styles and that any assumptions of how those look harms us all.
So let me propose a few criteria for being queer:
1) Challenging heteronormativity in your gender, sexual orientation or identity and/or relationship style.
2) Being (or at least desiring to be) active within a queer community.
3) Experiencing some form of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia or queerphobia.
I think there are many people who fit into those parts that are heterosexual. To all those heterosexuals who are queer and also help with PTS, I salute you.
Education Programs Coordinator, PTS