Last week’s iconic mid-week winter wasteland left many of us cuddled up with our partners, despite each professor’s hope that we spent all 48 hours studying only for their class. This doesn’t just refer to our socially assumed heterosexual cuddles. For countless students on campus, this meant their same-sex partners. This is a huge reality on campus that never seems to be discussed. The continued separation of gender in traditional dorm halls illuminates the heteronormative assumption that all couples on campus are comprised of a straight man and woman. This is a clear example of the continued culture of avoiding discussions of non-heterosexual relationships on campus. Without blatant support or inclusive discussions in classes, how are we supposed to assume Concordia isn’t a contributor to LGBTQ+ oppression? Avoidance is oppression when such issues aren’t addressed. They are deemed irrelevant and continue to be written off. It’s 2019. People are gay – let’s not dance around it. More importantly, people are lesbians and bisexuals.
It should not be a surprise that in our patriarchal society, the concept of same-sex male relationships remains in higher regard than most lesbian relationships. It is just a fact of the matter. It wasn’t until the 1950s that talk of same-sex bedroom relations were brought to light. Alfred Kinsey, the famous zoologist turned sexologist, is largely responsible for sparking the discussion around sexuality. The slow progress to homosexual acceptance began, but it was always centered around same-sex males. Typical conversations within academia, including the niche discipline of feminist philosophy, offer very little direct analysis regarding lesbianism. These oppressive roots are only fostered when a community like Concordia neglects to speak about things we deem as taboo or hush hush. These relationships are real and deserve recognition, regardless if you agree or not. In my personal experience on this campus, I know more than a handful of happily outed lesbians, and even more that are in loving and healthy relationships. Why are we still dancing around them as fictitious creatures, then? As a lesbian comedian, Hannah Gadsby put nicely in her recent stand-up, “for a long time I knew more about unicorns than lesbians.”
Adrienne Rich, an award-winning poet and educator, has a whole academic piece about her frustrations with lesbianism’s lack of existence in academic and societal conversations. She makes the argument that the existence of lesbianism threatens the male-centric world of heterosexuality. The more you dive into what is considered to be “acceptable” lesbian relationships, this truth becomes evident. Nearly all lesbian relationships are dissected into a power dynamic that people relate to a heterosexual context, a famous example being Ellen and Portia. Many lesbian couples are dissected to determine which woman appears girly or fragile and which is the more masculine persona. This allows people to feel more comfortable identifying distinct heterosexual roles within a lesbian relationship. While these attributes are disgustingly reductive, they aren’t accurate depictions of lesbian relationships, but labels forced on them so the heteronormative population can feel more comfortable.
The tendency for society to pick apart lesbian relationships and assume a power imbalance without an “obvious” masculine or male-like presence, exemplifies how deeply rooted heteronormativity is within our psyches.
Lesbians do not deserve to be ostracized due to their female status, nor accepted only in a fetishized form. Lesbian porn is a huge influence in fetishizing female-on-female relations. To this day, many women at college parties make out with other straight women when wanting to appear “hot” or impress other men. These attitudes about girl-on-girl advances continue to minimize the existence of loving and completely normal lesbian relationships that are not shown in videos with spicy girl-on-girl sex.
It is hard to happily exist in a lesbian relationship when you’re facing discrimination of both your gender and sexual identity. No matter how separated from the issue Concordia appears, the large population of bisexual or lesbian women in same-sex relationships forces it to be included in dialogue regarding the subject. The continual avoidance of support and discussion of same-sex couples, especially lesbian couples, makes Concordia seem unconducive to the lifestyles many of its students take up. In the same vein, validating students and welcoming the lesbian community into campus activities, like the Drag Show, is long overdue.
When pondering what a homosexual relationship looks like, don’t default to male couples, because Concordia is more inclusive than that and needs to show its support to other queer and trans couples on campus. In a year of gender matters discussions, it is important to not let a whole subset of our student population become invisible. Queer couples are made of complex individuals who aren’t simply lustful beings. They have valid and loving relationships in the same way straight couples do, and they land on a spectrum of all personality types and genders. They are your equals that deserve respect and a voice.