Fran Rosa

22 December 2015


Common People: Living Against The Norm

Español: Gente corriente: Vivir contra la norma

On this article I will use the term common people to refer people who are both heterosexual and cisgender.

Cisgender: non-trans*, people who agree with the binary man/woman gender paradigm and have no discrepancy with the gender they were assigned at birth

Are you sure you want to live like common people?
You want to see whatever common people see?
You want to sleep with common people?
You want to sleep with common people like me?

‘Common People’ by Pulp

Common people usually think that getting a funny look when we make a comment about a person of our same sex butt in front of our friends followed by an obliged laugh is the first awkward moment we live when we are not common people. So it is common among them to think of it as a collateral effect of our decision of living our sexual and/or gender identity openly, because there is no struggle before coming out, as if having the talk with our parents or friends was the first obstacle in our way.

One of the biggest struggles we face is not being considered normal and not only by others, because normal is a strong concept about social consideration, but also about the foundation of our own understanding of the world.

Best case scenario, we are told that there are other options outside being common people, even if just for criminalizing them. But we may not know those exist. If that is the case, we may not need to see outside the walls and live a happy life in the comfort of our ignorance. But outside the walls everything becomes uncertain and scary.

Starting to perceive there is something different about ourselves is also the beginning of self-rejection. We want to be normal. Internalized LGBTI-phobia (be it homophobia, transphobia, biphobia…) is not only the first but also one of the hardest obstacles we have to overcome. And it happens at a level we will hardly share it with anyone else. Because when we eventually come out means we already made our mind.

Not being common people is not easy, but if you do not even have a clue it can be a hard and a long way into self-discovery before we are able to articulate what is happening inside us, able to understand it somehow.

And beyond self-identity, our notion of what is normal is part of our education and it spreads among every aspect of our mind. Common people is not only attracted to certain people, look and behave in a certain way. How can we know what being a good person means when we have to break all foundations of our value system in order to understand ourselves and survive? Must we reevaluate our career path or life choices? Should we reread every book in our education now that we have broken new ground?

We rebuild our understanding of the world based on this internal struggle. Not only us, everyone living outside the walls of their previous understanding of the world widen their horizons and therefore it may lead to giving a second thought on other aspects on how they perceive the world.

May seem that having broken what normal means necessarily makes us more inclined to start with fresh eyes when facing new moral problems. It is a growing believe on the LGBTI community that we should fight heteronormativity in its entirety, and the spread of preconceived ideas in our (and further generations) education. And there is inside the community a higher interest in concepts like open relationships, polyamory and relationship anarchy than among common people.

Some even think that, in order to fight heteronormativity, we should reject all social accepted behaviors and create a new normal. It is understandable that those who had to break ground in every aspect of their social lives feel the need to fight heteronormativity. But pushing the idea that if we end up agreeing with any idea of the heteronormative set of rules independently of our experience we are just surrendering to heteronormativity or unable to evolve, is a pill hard to swallow. Challenging our own beliefs in order to gain perspective and make better informed decisions is already hard enough to force us to abandon every idea or rule on our book to make a step forward.

Making small changes, one step at a time is a kinder approach, but may not be enough to change anything. Truth is most of us, even after coming out, rely on every other aspect of our understanding of normal, sometimes with a stronger attachment to it. Because there is homonormativity, and it is the idea of embracing heteronormative values into our community. So we can find gay men being rejected to be easily identifiable as gay, and not as a political position against visibility, but as a perpetuation of the idea that a man should be and behave in a certain way. Some of us take a long journey to end almost at the same point.

And having that example into the gay community, the strongest part of the LGBTI community, imagine how hard can it be for us who are not monosexual and cisgender.

I consider myself lucky enough to have faced my sexual identity crisis much later in my life, so I was less confused and vulnerable then. But I have personally struggled with some of these conceptions about relationships lately, and it is not easy. But it is necessary and a very rewarding experience to challenge yourself to break old ideas, reinforce others and, in the end, getting to know yourself better.