The brilliant writer and poet Oscar Wilde has been quoted saying the following about making assumptions.
“When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.”
A few days ago, as I sat writing in my living room, my TV, which was playing in the background while I worked, caught my attention. A local news station was on and a male newscaster was interviewing a young boy who looked to be about 10 years old. The boy was being questioned about a large, local party he had recently attended. Most of the male newscaster’s questions were typical, boring fluff.
Yet, one particular question caught my ear. Referencing the large party, the newscaster asked the boy, “Did you meet any cute girls at the party?” I became immediately annoyed. Let me rephrase that, I was instantly offended and infuriated. To most heterosexual, Western Pennsylvanian viewers of this program I’m sure this question appeared to be a completely harmless and simple inquiry. But in rebuttal I wanted to scream, “Why don’t you ask him if he met any cute boys at the party?”
Simply put, society needs to stop assuming that everyone is straight.
Is it any wonder that LGBT individuals feel that they are different and that their feelings are abnormal from a very young age? Our society pushes an unrealistic, heterosexual ideal as the norm in almost every sentence out of its mouth.
Normal is for that little boy to be lusting after little girls. Normal is for little girls to make him blush. Normal is for little girls to make his stomach flip and his heart to beat faster. If he is not experiencing exactly these things, then guess what, he is different and strange and abnormal. Something is wrong with him.
There must be something wrong with him. With causal questions and assumptions, that lump him into this heterosexual bubble, being thrown around by everyone in his life from his teachers to his family members to the god damned newscasters on TV, there must be something atypical about him if his feelings don’t coincide with this accepted norm which seems to come so naturally to everyone else.
We cannot presume to know someone’s sexuality simply by looking at him or her. I look forward to the day where people who make such assumptions, who box us all into tight, little, unfair expectations, are the ones who are outside of the norm. I am not being overly dramatic in my opinion that the newscaster I mentioned was being rude and ignorant.
On the flip side of this issue, I have witnessed people who are doing their best to redefine what is normal in our society. A close, straight, female friend of mine, who has recently gotten married, has a one-year-old little boy named Henry. I always hear her affectionately gushing over him. She believes in never assuming who Henry will become. She constantly says to him,
“Mommy loves you, Henry. Mommy loves you so much. And Mommy doesn’t care who you love when you grow up. You can love a man, a woman or whomever and I will be very proud of you and love you just the same. And Mommy doesn’t care if you decide later that you should have been born a girl instead of a boy. I love you unconditionally no matter who life calls you to be.”
This is not an exaggeration. She literally says these things to him all the time. I listen to this friend’s utter lack of assumption and realize that the world is changing. I know that if Henry ever grows up to become a newscaster he would ask a little boy, “Did you meet anyone cute at the party?” A simple altering of a few words in a sentence and suddenly all of us are included in what is normal. And suddenly no one is making an ass out of you, me or themselves.