Photo Credit: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com
A few months ago I found myself flipping through channels, and I landed on the OWN show "Rosie." I did not even know we had the channel. I have always been a fan of Rosie O'Donnell, not just for her talent, but also for her GBLT activism and breast cancer awareness work, so I decided to watch. Apparently, I was watching a rerun. She mentioned that she had received a lot of fan feedback asking, "Why so much gay stuff?" She then showed a short clip of all the mentions of the word gay (a few jokes, mentions of her S.O. and some audience/guest banter) and basically said, sorry, but I am just living my life. I watched the rest of the show and could not get the "feedback" out of my head.
"Why so much gay stuff?" I think a better question is: "Why so much straight stuff?"
Our society is built for heterosexuals (forgive me for the lack of intersectionalism in this post). When a straight woman discusses her upcoming plans for her wedding in Illinois, which does not allow gay marriage, is she told to knock it off with the straight stuff? When a man discusses an argument he had with his wife is he asked to tone down his heterosexuality?
Most Americans consider heterosexuality to be normal and, therefore, any other sexuality becomes "othered"--meaning that it is seen as abnormal. It is a sign of the privilege associated with heterosexuality. I can discuss my life with my husband without being told I am shoving my "lifestyle" down anyone's throat; yet replace the word husband with partner or wife and I am suddenly pushy and overly focused on sexuality.
The "gay stuff" questioned by O'Donnell's fans is just her life--discussing her significant other or sharing a common experience with another person. These are simple things that heterosexuals often discuss and take for granted, but that many in the GLBTQ community are unable to share with others out of fear of rejection, alienation and possibly violence. Everyone deserves the right to live their life without that kind of fear.
One often hears people state that having so many openly gay celebrities on television or in movies is a sign of how far our society has come, but the question "why so much gay stuff" is a sign of how far we have left to go. When will have reached equality? I think it is when everyone can go about their daily lives without being labeled an activist or extremist for doing so.
"It's okay to be gay."