Thursday, August 25, 2011

No Rainbow Connection

Okay, at the risk of upsetting some people (What? Marni? Afraid of upsetting people? NOOOO!), I wanted to talk about the use of the rainbow when referring to a group or organization that supports the LGBT community... or even the LGBTQA community. I'm sure there's a longer acronym out there, too. The more we identify the subtleties between points on the sexual orientation continuum, the longer the acronyms are sure to get.

I LOVE the fact that Natasha is starting a Gay-Straight Alliance at her school. She has joined (because I subscribed to their eNewsletter) GLSEN. But then, she "Liked" this other group on Facebook called the LGBT Geeks of Arizona. That's fine for her, but I can't very well go to any of their events, now can I? I'm straight, after all. There are TONS of these groups. LGBT America. GALA - Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses. LGBT Democrats. Just do a search in FB alone and you could spend hours going though all of the sites.

So, like, I can't be a part of those groups.

Come on, now. I'm being a bit snarky here. You know that.

My point is that the "rainbow" that is utilized in so many sexual orientation group logos is misleading. Heterosexuals are a part of that rainbow. Sorry, but it's true. So, when Natasha decides to play the lesbian card and join these groups, I won't feel comfortable going with her. I'm not the "supportive spouse of a lesbian." That's just insulting to all lesbians. Lesbians don't need support. I'm the "supportive spouse of a transsexual," so maybe if I go under that umbrella, I'd feel welcomed. But then again, as so many people in the TS and TG communities love to point out, Tasha is NOT transgendered, right? That implies a choice to remain gendered masculine in her case, but to have a secondary female persona. That's just not how it is, though.

But here I go, getting caught in the nitpickiness that is the S.O. Rainbow (Sexual Orientation).

Natasha keeps trying to convince me that although I am not a lesbian, I AM in a lesbian relationship. That might be true, but I still cannot even remotely identify with another female's attraction to women. It ain't in me. I've got no problem with it, obviously, but it's like asking a lesbian how they would feel being with a guy. Um... no. So, perhaps I go with Tasha to a group thing that does not include the Straight color of the rainbow. Immediately, I am cast as someone whom I am not: the lesbian partner. Do I really care what others think of me? No. but having not been included in their pretty rainbow to begin with, I feel marginalized.

See where I'm at here? I'm not complaining about minority groups having groups. I'm complaining about my "majority" position among those groups.

In short, I propose that the rainbow only be used for groups that account for ALL S.O. categories. I, for example, consider myself to be a Heterobservant. That means I'm heterosexual who observes and appreciates the attractiveness of the same sex, too. So, I'm not quite on the far, far end of heterosexuality. Just to the left of me would be Heterobstaining, who are heterosexuals who can sometimes feel turned on by the same sex but has no desire to do anything about it. What about them? What is their color on the rainbow? Eh?


Teagan said...

Those groups, for the most part, exist to combat discrimination against members of the group. The rainbow exists because non-heteronormative people, whether it be in the area of sexual orientation or gender identity, are marginalized and discriminated against.

This is not a problem for straight cisgender people.

So let me get this straight, pardon the pun. You are complaining because you are not demographically part of a group which exists to combat discrimination against members of the group?

Cry me a rainbow.

And besides. You're a woman who is attempting to stick with her transitioning spouse. Do you seriously think you'll be rejected by an alphabet-soup group? If you are, that says a hell of a lot more about the group than you. If they don't accept you, the hell with them, but at least give them the chance to before you assume that you cannot be a part of them.

Sonora Sage said...

While I generally agree with Teagan, I'd also like to suggest that at some point in time, you may come to label yourself as something other than heterosexual. You're still physically attracted to Natasha, right? And you acknowledge that Natasha is a woman, right? So there's at least one woman that you're physically attracted to.

You don't have to leap all the way over to lesbian. There's a whole host of labels to pick from. Here's a very comprehensive list to browse through. Although I have only been in relationships with men, and in years past would have probably told anyone who asked that I was heterosexual, my ex's eventual identification as some flavor of trans* and my own "I'm okay with that" response, coupled with the attractions I've felt since we split, have led me to try on a few different labels. The 'Pan-' ones often apply to partners who are unfazed by transition, as "their partner's gender does little to define their relationship". In my case, gendered characteristics - whether physical or behavioral - play almost no part in whether I'm attracted to someone.

Your case may be different - the heterobservant label is interesting - but "never say never". I can't imagine anyone who is part of a LGBTetc.etc. group dismissing a person who is romantically and sexually attracted to, and partnered with, someone of the same gender, as "too straight for us"!

Marni said...

Ah, Teagan, you played right into my little trap!!! Tee hee. No, I am not complaining because I'm not a part of a group that combats discrimination. I am complaining because a rainbow contains every color, not most, and so if a group wants to use the rainbow efficiently, it should include heterosexuals in its group.

In reality, with the exception of groups that really are trying to combat discrimination, I have problems with any group that excludes others just because they are "not." I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself well, here (I'm actually having a bad mental moment and trying to write around it), but as a woman, for example, I think that any feminist group that excludes men entirely from their efforts because they are men are dumb. Men can support feminism just as much as heterosexuals can support non-heterosexuals.

And, no, I definitely don't think I'm going to be rejected by any group to which my spouse becomes a member. I, however, might not feel a real part of the crowd.

I like the pun, by the way. :-D

@Sonora - I am not sexually attracted to Natasha's feminine features. That's the problem. I love her with my entire soul, but what I think I'm willing to try with her in the sex department is not because I would be turned on, per se, but because I love her and want to make her happy.

Trust me: I've had enough experiences in my life to know what I do and do not find stimulating to my sex drive. I may not be at the far end of the hetero side of the spectrum, but I'm far from close to the middle, too. :-)

Marni said...

Okay everyone! Since Natasha missed the point of my rant, I'll assume that she's not alone. Let me clarify:

My point is that THE RAINBOW IS NOT A GOOD SYMBOL FOR GROUPS THAT DO NOT INCLUDE ALL OF SOMETHING!!! It's all about the rainbow, okay? I love rainbows and to see them so misrepresented just makes me sad. Rainbows are used for children's groups, too, where their aim is to bring ALL cultures together for understanding and sharing. That's a great use of a rainbow. See? Again, IT'S ABOUT THE RAINBOW!

I love you all. Now, I'm going to sulk on the sofa.

Kathryn Martin said...

Having just seen this, I must say I agree with you. I have always wondered about the symbolism of the rainbow. It encompasses all colors which makes the example you referred to so regarding children compelling.

Ariel said...

Actually, a rainbow does not include all colours. There is no black or, perhaps most germaine, no white. Us primarily-hetero people get to be white. That's what being normative is all about. We're not "colourful."

Yes, I wrote "us." I'm in a same-sex relationship. We're married. Those who don't think we're girl friends (we often get asked if we'd like "separate bills") assume we're a lesbian couple. They don't ask whether we have sex or whether either of us is sexually attracted to women. But that doesn't change my own sexual orientation. It's just a bit under wraps, and that's OK with me.

As for the rainbow, marginalized groups often band together. They are "othered" by the majority, so they in turn stick together. In the case of lesbian and gay people, it's an actual culture, and many really don't want those of other "cultures" to invade, however friendly they might be. It's because those of a particular culture speak the same language, and they like the fact that they will be understood.

I quite appreciate my women-only groups. If there were men in my book club, it would change the dynamic considerably. It wouldn't be bad, just different. And I like things they way they are.

But I understand your point about the rainbow. The political "rainbow coalition" was supposed to be all-inclusive. I don't think, however, that you're going to wrest the rainbow away from LGbt.

Marni said...

@Ariel, thank you for sharing your views. I do have to correct you, though, since a) I'm a geek and b) it supports my point...

In terms of color-as-light, black is not a color and white is all colors blended together. So, yes, the rainbow represents all colors, including white. :-D

Teagan said...

I hate to out-geek you in your own blog, but....

Not quite. The rainbow does not have white. White is the "color" of light before it gets refracted through water. Light being refracted through water is what causes a rainbow... the "white" is split up into a continuous spectrum of colors. Way more colors than Roy G. Biv would have you think, but sorry, white is not among them.

Marni said...

Okay, Teagan. Now I have to counter with uber-geek forensics skills.

I said, "white is all colors blended together." I did not say that the rainbow has white. Ergo (see? I used a syllogistic logic term there), your geeky response did not contradict my point.

So there! :-)

Teagan said...

Ego perdidi color bella, sed diam Latine scribo hic. Ergo, Ego sum omnium maximus nerd.

Marni said...

@Teagan: Ad ultimum concedo nerdiness. But shouldn't it have been, "Latine scribo hoc," and not "hic"?

You're totally awesome!

Anne said...

Hmmm..I'wondering how a confirmed Ludite might enter into this "rainbow" of nerdiness.

In truth, with the passage of the years, Ihave come to a place, similar to Marni's: "a heterosexual who can sometimes feel turned on by the same sex but has no desire to do anything about it."

"What about them? What is their color on the rainbow? Eh?" Myexperience has been an "outsider", an "other".

Marni said...

Hi Anne!

I wonder if, perhaps, an asexual person might either be more toward the middle of the rainbow in the chartreuse area or on another rainbow entirely. :-)

Anne said...

Honestly dear, I really wouldn't know, as I am about as far from "asexual" as one could get and I just don't "do" rainbows. I "do" men.

I hope you do not consider that too biased. In truth it is more of a sexual fetis, Yumm Yumm...:-))