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Heteronormative Housing

Heteronormative Housing

When I purchased my first home at 19, in 2002, I didn’t know any other gay men who owned property in Halifax, period. I figured I have entered a heteronormative area. 15 years later, on the other side of the fence as a broker, that number is immeasurable.

Which is heartening.

Homeownership is a milestone for everyone and a stressful time for most. For LGBTQ* people, it’s also a potential gauntlet with a thin veil of discrimination and institutionalized barriers.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You live in a heteronormative home, on a heteronormative street, in a heteronormative world.

Unfortunately, (for them) so do your gay neighbours.

Heteronormativity is the belief that heterosexuality is the normal, default state of human sexuality. A heteronormative society operates on the assumption that heterosexuality is inherent, reducing the existence and experiences of LGBTQ* people to outliers.

You might even say it perpetuates a cultural bias favouring heterosexual relationships by default, which is reflected in systemic barriers faced by LGBTQ* folks.

(Note: This.Is.Why.We.Still.Need.Pride.)

Examples of Heteronormativity:

  • School trip forms with signature spaces for ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ instead of ‘parent/guardian’
  • A man and woman holding hands, or otherwise expressing affection, without fear
  • Not having to ‘come out’ as a heterosexual ( at all, let alone every day)
  • Health classes in school that only cover matters of cisgender straight people

When it comes specifically to homeownership and housing, heteronormativity rears its’ ugly head in a variety of ways. Systemic discrimination, like landlords ignoring applications from people that are clearly not cis-gendered and straight. Seniors unable to find retirement facilities that openly welcome LGBTQ* people without prejudice.

On a personal level, heteronormativity shows itself in different ways. An inability to anticipate the potential concerns of an LGBTQ* client, like neighbourhood safety, crime rates, and the general political climate. An embarrassed smirk accompanied by inquiries into the exact nature of the relationship of the applicants “So are your friends, or…..?”.

Perhaps least offensive, but still worthy of mention, are the concept of ‘His and Hers’ sinks or walk-in closets. Heteronormative and tacky, two birds with one stone.

With love, Clinton

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