In our society, there has been much progress when it comes to developing awareness and acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community. However, there is still a lot of pushback, many still believe that being straight and cisgender is the default and what is normal. Comphet sheds light on why it is difficult for so many individuals to come out in our society, and how it can take so long for them to accept themselves fully and reveal their true selves to others.
The term Compulsory Heterosexuality was first coined in a 1980 journal article, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” written by Adrienne Rich. Below is a passage from the “Am I a Lesbian?” document that explains in detail what Compulsory heterosexuality is. “Am I a Lesbian?”, also known as The Lesbian Master Doc was written by Angeli Luz and was posted to Tumblr in 2018.
“Compulsory heterosexuality is very similar to heteronormativity – the assumption that straight is the default. We’re trained from birth to believe that we will find someone of the other binary gender, fall in love, have sex, etc. In a million tiny ways we’re taught that only relationships with the other binary gender are valid. (And if you’re not one of the binary genders, this can be even more confusing.)”
Comphet and Societal Impact
“Women are taught from a very early age that making men happy is our job. We’re supposed to be pretty for men, we’re supposed to change the way we talk so men will take us more seriously, and we’re supposed to want a man’s love more than anything else. Our magazines are full of sex tips on how to better please men and our movies are about how we’re supposed to fall in love with men. We literally cannot exist in public without men loudly grading us on how well we’re pleasing them visually.”
Society Norms make coming out very difficult for lesbians and other individuals questioning their gender/sexual orientation… Even though there has been progress in recent years, coming out can still be perceived as unnatural and stigmatized.
Thoughts to Ponder Over
Due to Compulsory Heterosexuality, many women (femme/non-binary individuals) can go through much of their life not realizing that they can be anything other than straight. If you are in the process of coming out or questioning your sexuality/gender, here are a few questions to ponder over. (Questions are tailored for female/femme-identifying individuals from the “Am I A Lesbian?” master doc)
Do you get crushes on just about every guy you’re friendly with, because there’s no difference between friendships and crushes to you?
Do you view relationships with men as a chore, burden, or just something you must deal with?
Do You want to date/fall in love/get married/have kids/etc with a guy, but the guy you dream about is never specific and may as well be a cardboard cutout?
Are you only/mostly being attracted to unattainable, disinterested, or fictional guys or guys you never or rarely interact with? (Such as teachers, married or older men, and men who live far away)
Do you worry that you’re broken inside and unable to love anyone?
Are you unusually competitive, shy, or eager to impress specific women when you’re not that way with anyone else?
As stated in a previous blog post, there is no right way to come out, it doesn’t just happen all at once. Societal Pressures and Comphet doesn’t make this process any easier either. For support, hiring a coach to work with you throughout the process can be beneficial. The Queer Life Coach specializes in working with LGBTQIA+ femme identify individuals during all facets of life, especially those who come out later in life. Coming Out can be long and daunting, but when you are able to truly embrace your authentic self, it is worth it.
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Human Rights Campaign: https://www.hrc.org/resources/coming-out
The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Am I a Lesbian? Master Doc (by Angeli Luz) https://www.docdroid.net/N46Ea3o/copy-of-am-i-a-lesbian-masterdoc-pdf#page=30
“Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” (by Adrienne Rich) https://www.posgrado.unam.mx/musica/lecturas/Maus/viernes/AdrienneRichCompulsoryHeterosexuality.pdf
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