Truth, Fiction and Straight Pride: a closer look at heterosexuality
“Where do you stand,” a friend mused over a boiling coffee pot, “On adultery?”
“I’m hesitant to judge people on their own personal marital arrangements.” I reply, probably sounding far too rehearsed.
“No, I mean, would you do it?” He pressed, waving the cooking spoon at me in an accusatory fashion.
“Of course not.” I pause. “Because-” There’s a long pause, again. I realise, as with so many social mores, my indignation is reflexive, unjustified. “Because I wouldn’t want to be known for doing something like that.”
“So because of how it would look?”
“No! Partly, of course, but that’s true of all social laws. I mean, I wouldn’t want the wife to get hurt. Of course. I’d be crushed to be cheated on.”
“What if she never knew? He probably wouldn’t tell her.”
“I’d still feel bad. And if he could do that to her, what would he do to-”
“So,” he says triumphantly, pouring the coffee into a steaming glass. “Your aversion to adultery is entirely selfish.”
There’s a lot of heterosexual sexuality that exists in the taboo, the fringe, the shadows and the unspoken. It seeps and sprawls into hotel liasons, wills regarding villas in Marseilles, secret children, secretarial arrangements and illicit business trips. Heterosexual culture, we all know, is not merely the polished nuclear family, missionary positions and white weddings.
There’s a lot of heterosexual culture that’s great. Family values, deep love, amazing literature: who could not smile at the sight of a happy couple in love? But there is a hidden side to it, too.
It can be dark, riddled with secrets, betrayals, pain and sadnesses, all going largely undiscussed due to outdated propriety.
The LGBT+ community has come leaps, bounds and marathons in the discussion of safe sex, consent, contraception, healthy relationships, polyamory and fringe lifestyles. We discuss those things with an unnerving but helpful openness which means you’ll seldom socialise romantically or sexually without some engagement with those arrangements.
This lack of squeamishness or indignation at addressing our cultural flaws is actually useful. Very few gay people will be insulted by a discussion on promiscuity, monogamy or cheating. It doesn’t scandalise us. It would be rather archaic not to engage with whether your relationship was exclusive or whether it was romantic or not.
Straight culture, on the other hand, is exceptionally wobbly on this ground. As a bisexual, I can stand on both sides of the fence and tell you truthfully that more could be done. The heterosexual community is still very, very jumpy around any abnormality or changes in straight society: whether that’s openly having more than one husband, being openly polyamorous, or just a basic “What Counts As Consent” discussion rarely ends in a peaceful, calm and respectful discussion. More likely than not, we see Daily Mail outrage, a Jeremy Kyle episode or Piers Morgan tweeting about the good old days.
So, as maybe the only gay person with this perspective: I support a straight pride movement.
Not because I think straight people are marginalised (lol) threatened (ha) or hated (further laughter) but because I think having an open, honest engagement on heterosexuality and what being heterosexual means would be very, very healthy.
A discussion about healthy masculinity in dating. A discussion on what good, consensual sex actually means for heterosexual people. An open dialogue on family planning. On gender roles. On polygamy. On who puts up shelves or takes the bins out. On what level of drunk is too drunk.
In short, to take ownership, and yes, even pride, in what it is to be straight, warts and uncomfortable discussions and all.
Because damn, I’ve heard enough complaining from straight women about straight culture to last me a lifetime.