BLACK: A fight against heterocentrism



Brigid Black

Last week’s issue of The Villanovan featured an article entitled “Love and Marriage in Academia” that examined the prevalence of dating and relationships among undergraduates at Villanova. The piece revealed that many of these relationships eventually lead to marriage after couples graduate. Even the staff editorial declared that Villanova is a “relationship school.”

Thus, it would seem that dating is often an essential part of the college experience for a large number of Villanova students. Potential boyfriends, girlfriends and even future husbands and wives are waiting to be found on our campus.

Such discourses pertaining to marriage, though, remain largely embedded in heterocentrism. Heterocentric attitudes presume that everyone is heterosexual, which simply isn’t true.

On the contrary, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are more prominent than ever before in today’s world, and LGBT-related issues – such as same-sex marriage – are of intensely heightened significance.

However, such a milestone can be easily overlooked at Villanova, where couples who openly identify themselves as LGBT do not make up a large majority of the student population.

Think about it. How often do you witness a heterosexual couple on campus holding hands en route to the Oreo, or giving each other a quick kiss before darting to class? It may very well be every day.

On the other hand, how many times have you seen a same-sex couple display any kind of affection in public? This question yields a vastly different answer: perhaps not even once.

In response to this, one might argue that the number of LGBT students and couples at Villanova is miniscule, and that their rare presence on campus is itself an anomaly. However, just because you don’t see them, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist (the stigmas that come with being gay at Villanova are partly to blame for this, but that’s for an entirely different article).

More importantly, LGBT persons of all ages have many of the same hopes and dreams relating to their lives that straight people have. These include dating, long-term relationships and, eventually, marriage.

Yet, marriage between two persons of the same sex is currently legal in the United States in only two states – Massachusetts and Connecticut. While domestic partnerships and civil unions are permitted for same-sex couples in a number of states, including Vermont and New Jersey, marriage remains largely unavailable to the LGBT community.

In New York, the battle for marriage equality has recently hit a roadblock. According to the New York Times, a same-sex marriage bill is unlikely to pass in 2009. While the bill passed the State Assembly in 2007 and has been backed by Gov. David Paterson, a strong supporter of gay rights, at this time there are not enough votes by the Senate to pass the bill during this legislative session.

Thus, the battle rages on. Same-sex marriage is relevant now more than ever, not just in New York, but nationally as well.

The passing of Proposition 8 in California in the Nov. 4, 2008 general election changed the state constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to include only opposite-sex couples. This resulted in outrage and protests on a number of fronts, from both gay and straight people alike. “Prop 8- The Musical,” a satiric short film starring Jack Black and other celebrities who support gay rights, reached 1.2 million internet hits on its first day.

Knowing all of this, today’s world can no longer be viewed through a heterocentric lens. While society has tended to marginalize LGBT individuals, there is a noticeable shift occurring in our midst. Winds of change and progress are swirling all around us; people are caring about same-sex marriage on an unprecedented and more universal level.

Yet, while progress is being made, the fight must continue. Same-sex marriage has transcended the status of a mere “hot button” issue or a debate. This is a perpetual and unfinished struggle for equality among human beings – regardless of what may make us different from one another.


Brigid Black is a senior English and French double- major from Brooklyn, N.Y. She can be reached at [email protected].