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6 I March 6, 2015
straight not the
same as being
We live in a world where what you appear to be
matters more than what you are.
There’s no better example of this than straight-passing.
This phrase defines someone who identifies as queer but
doesn’t fit the stereotypical queer
image or who is in a relationship that
appears to be heterosexual.
Many see straight-passing as a
privilege because it can mean less
discrimination. While this might be
true, queer people of all types still
have to face bigotry, if in different
When we first look at daily
interactions with other people, there
is a difference in how people who
pass are treated.
"If we appear straight and
cisgender, and for some reason are
not in a safe place to come out, we have the ability
to pretend,” said Early College senior Kinsey Danzis.
“People whose appearance doesn’t quite fit into the
heterosexual and cisgender norm don’t have that luxury
because people tend to assume right off the bat that
they’re queer, whether they’re actually queer or not.”
While people who don’t conform to the straight,
cisgender image are faced with more immediate
discrimination, people who do are still wrongfully
treated, if a little later.
“Although a queer person may pass as straight if
they’re in a heterosexual relationship, straight privilege
by definition doesn’t exist for them because (first),
they’re queer and (second), they still have to deal
with prejudiced a s on all sides,” said Erin Tatum
in an article for Everyday Feminism. “I’m pretty sure
that cancels out any ephemeral benefits of temporarily
Straight-passing queer people also experience the
same fear of coming out and are often met with shock.
“There’s an embarrassment that crosses their face, a
shuffle of papers, a reach for a pen — a social clumsiness
in that they assume I’m not,” said Koa Beck in an article
Facing this scary experience is difficult for anyone
who identifies as queer, regardless of how they appear.
“In a society so eager to assume straightness that
‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ becomes public policy, it takes
courage and resolve to challenge the presumption of
heterosexuality,” says the GLBTC^online encyclopedia in
its definition of “passing.”
Additionally, once they have come out, people who
appear straight and cisgender are more often met with
disbelief This is especially true for people who identify
as bisexual or pansexual.
“I think that sexual diversity when one is homosexual is
somehow (treated like it’s) branded into their personality,
and when someone is bisexual or pansexual their sexuality
is brushed off as a slight variation of heterosexuality,”
said Early College sophomore Erin Goeke.
This kind of questioning is always harmful.
“After all, who would be happy (to not be) recognized
for what they really are?” said Aviva Dove-Viebahn in an
article for The Root.
People who pass are also often not given the same
level of respect and acceptance in the queer community.
“I’m neither butch nor a tomboy,” said Dove-Viebahn.
“Does that make me less gay or, more importantly, less
politically viable as a gay woman?”
This question is shared by many straight passing
people, and it could isolate them from the community.
“Maybe passing keeps me safe,” said Gaby Dunn in
an article for Thought Catalog. “But sometimes I just
want to feel proud of who I am or accepted by the
people who should be my people.”
Regardless of outward appearance, everyone in the
queer community should be welcomed and heard.
No one should ever assume sexuality based on
appearance and all queer people — straight-passing or
not — should uphold this value.
“When people irresponsibly jump to conclusions
about someone’s gender or sexuality based solely on their
appearance, that invariably leads to more discrimination
regardless of whether or not the assumption is correct,”
While it’s true that different parts of the queer
community face different issues, all face bigotry. All
have struggles. The difficulties of some should not be
valued more or less than the difficulties of others.
The message should always be acceptance. That’s the
Film industry is to blame
for lock of representation
This year's Oscar nominations lacked diversity in many of it's categories. This can be seen above in nominees made for Best Actress.
As the most prominent film award show and
a cultural event, second only to the Superbowl,
no one is questioning the impact of the
Oscars. But, the nation is questioning why all
the nominees this year were
suspiciously lacking in one
This year, no minorities
were nominated for any of the
acting categories, something
that hasn’t occurred since
1998. Additionally, all of
the Best Picture nominees,
most of which were directed
by men, focused on male
Many would claim that
the Academy’s demographics
are what led to this year’s
catastrophe, which may be partially true. As
of 2012, the Academy consists of a 94 percent
white and a 77 percent male population. Black
voters made up only 3 percent of the group.
“Most of the nominated were white males,”
said Early College junior Janie Cary. “It may
not necessarily be an intentional bias of the
Academy, but the voting committee is made up
of mostly white males.”
These circumstances inspired a collective
outrage on social media. Protesters boycotted
the broadcast of this year’s Oscars to show
their discontent and flooded Twitter with the
#OscarsSoWhite hashtag. Many attribute the 16
percent drop in viewership to their efforts.
“There were many performances, both in
front of and behind the camera, by people
from marginalized communities that I believe
should have been recognized,” said April Reign,
the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, to
Forbes magazine. “The point of the hashtag
I created is not that the other nominees are
not deserving. They all turned in excellent
performances, and that should be recognized.
But Ava (DuVernay) and David (Oyelowo, of
“Selma” fame) also should be recognized for
their outstanding contributions, among others.”
The blame, however, lies not with the Academy
of Arts and Sciences, who votes on Oscar wins and
nominations, but with the entire Hollywood industry.
“I think the lack of diversity is reflective of
the film industry as a whole, which is dominated
by white males,” said Chad Phillips, visiting
assistant professor of theatre studies and head of
film studies, in an email interview.
According to Time magazine, the number
of nonwhite people on the big screen is three
times less than the number of nonwhite people
in America. Even more concerning, the top
three acting agencies in the industry have fallen
behind in their attempts to build a racially
“There are certain major projects that you
just don’t get to be a part of unless you have
a connection with one of these top agencies,”
said Ana-Christina Ramon, the co-author of a
UCLA study on diversity in film agencies. “Or
maybe you get to be a part of it, but you’re
not going to be the lead. So the tendency of
top agencies to pack their talent rosters with
whites really restricts access to opportunities for
According to the UCLA study, the top three
agencies together represent 72 percent of all film
actors, and only 7 percent of their represented
actors are minorities. Out of the 28 percent
represented by smaller agencies, 19 percent are
This lack of support is reflected in the gross
underrepresentation of minorities, including
women, Hispanics, Asian- and African-
Americans in film and TV. According to the
UCLA Diversity Report in 2011, minorities
claimed only 10.5 percent of the lead roles in
172 examined films. That same year, minorities
made up 36.3 percent of the U.S. population.
However, the Oscars have done as well as
could be expected in previous years, awarding
various minorities for their impressive cinematic
“A lot of attention has been given to the
lack of African-American nominees (this year),”
said Williams. “But, it is worth noting the past
two Best Directors have been Mexican, as was
the winner of both the 2013 and 2014 Best
Cinematography awards, (Emmanuel Lubezki).”
The Oscars’ problem isn’t that the Academy
voters vote for white males, it’s that the industry isn’t
producing films with representation for minorities.
Online exclusive this week:
= =LEUER HI EDITOR
In defense of the Bonner Program
Check it out at www.guilfoj^ij
BYNOELLE LANE MS