I ran into one of my best friends today. I was working my part-time retail gig, and she and her fiancé stopped in to say hello.
We had a nice conversation. Talked about how they are going to Mexico for Thanksgiving break. I asked her how med school was going, as she is also pursuing her degree at Loyola University. She asked me how my program at Loyola is going. We talked some gossip about our other friends, asked each other how our families are, and shared our holiday plans. I wished them safe travels on their trip and we said our goodbyes.
What you would not know up to this point is that my friend is gay and that her fiancé is a woman.
This friend is one of my best. How do I measure that? She dubbed me the greatest nickname I have ever received, which is Likies (pronounced lee-keys). I always knew my friend was a lesbian. She never had to say it. But to this day, I have never heard her say anything along the lines of “I am gay” or “I am a lesbian.” And I don’t think that I will ever hear her say that. The closest she ever got to telling me this was a time in high school, and she said, “Likies… you know.”
I am a cis gendered, heterosexual individual. My Greek family, although unreligious, and the Greek community value heteronormitivity. To find out that someone in the Greek community is gay is juicy gossip. No one forgets that piece of information. And you bet that the gay individual’s family starts to get judged for raising someone like that. Yet, it is okay or understandable when non-Greeks are gay. The Greek mentality–as I have grown up and experienced it in the Chicagoland area–is that Greeks are superior, and, therefore, not gay.
When my mother found out that my friend was engaged to a woman, her jaw dropped. I never explicitly told her that my friend was gay. Because that was not my place. From time to time she will ask me if they are still engaged, like it was a phase or something. Would she ever ask if a heterosexual friend was still engaged? Probably not.
During my senior year of college, I lived with a gay man and a sorority sister, who had celebrated four years of sobriety. I start to wonder what my family thinks of me and my choice in friends.
They are always surprised by me and the things that I do. What are you going to do with a degree in English? Why do you want to live on campus? What do you need a sorority for? Why do you need a master’s degree? What are you actually studying in grad school? Why don’t you have a boyfriend?
THAT, my friends, is their biggest concern. Why doesn’t Vicki have a boyfriend?
Vicki does not have a boyfriend for a lot of reasons. I know they think that because I have gay friends that it might be rubbing off on me. Maybe Vicki is homosexual. And THAT, my friends, would be their biggest fear.
How do you shake the heteronormitivity that accompanies a culture or religion? How do you you disrupt homophobia?
I stumbled upon this TEDTalk:
Hearing how different countries, cultures, and religions experience equality or homophobia is important. How can we, the United States, model social justice? How can other countries model social justice? At what point will these stories weave into the fabric of love and respect?