Not Heterosexual

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October 17, 1996
EvaS: Our guest tonight is NOTHETTAPE. It took me some to figure out that referred to the topic tonight. :) Which is called Not Heterosexual. And our guest produced a tape called Not Heterosexual. An excellent tape, I might add. Not, are you ready to begin?:)

NOTHETTAPE: Whenever you're ready.

EvaS: Great:) Why did you make a tape called Not Heterosexual? I should add the subtitle, too. An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.

NOTHETT: I wanted to get accurate information out in a useful form.

EvaS: Isn't this information already available in many different forms?

NOTHETTAPE: Sure it is. But not in easily accessible forms. And definitely not on audiotape.

EvaS: Who is your intended audience, Not?

NOTHETTAPE: Anybody with questions. I wanted to reach the broadest possible audience.

EvaS: And what are your qualifications, Not?

NOTHETTAPE: I'm a psychologist with a psychotherapy practice. About 3/4 of my clients are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. I write and speak about these issues often. I started doing peer counseling at the Lesbian Switchboard in Madison, WI in the mid 70s.

EvaS: Not, since you're a lesbian, how can you be unbiased? And is there such a thing? :)

NOTHETTAPE: No one is unbiased or totally objective. I'm trained to recognize bias and try to account for it. That's the best any of us can do.

EvaS: Are there a lot of people still in the closet, even though it's more acceptable these days? Barney Frank is out, even Lily Tomlin has finally come out, there are stand up comics, movies, etc.

NOTHETTAPE: Yup. I meet people who are partially or mostly closeted all the time.

EvaS: How is staying in the closet encouraged by all of us, Not?

NOTHETTAPE: Oh, my! Where do I begin? For starters, the world assumes everyone is heterosexual, which creates the closet in the first place. Then there are still many negative consequences for being open - loss of job, negative social reactions, sometimes violence, negative family of origin reactions, loss of child custody.

Ersaminor: I find that lesbian society is rather limited in interest. Namely the bars. I like to go to plays or the opera and have no lesbians to go with. I am out but not feeling very good about it. What do you think of the community as a whole? Seems to be very limiting. Any comments on that?

NOTHETTAPE: I think it's a lot of different communities, not just one. Most larger cities have alternatives to the bars - restaurants, social clubs, etc. Are you in a smaller community?

Ersaminor: Actually, in a major community. But the gay women seem to prefer sports and the bars. High alcoholism rate also.

Kajin65991: Sorry. I find the community SO diverse that it causes the unity to be hard sometimes as opposed to limiting.

EvaS: Interesting. Two opposite perceptions of the lesbian community.

NOTHETTAPE: I also find that even in big cities like Denver (which is where I am) there weren't a lot of organized alternatives to the bars until the last ten or twelve years.

ElephasMax: I would like to comment on what Ersaminor mentioned. I think that it could be that people tend to get caught up in the fact that they are gay (and in the "sexual" part of homosexual). For example, I know some nice women who always have Melissa Etheridge on in the car, or kd lang. Now, I like some of their songs, but I also still enjoy the music I enjoyed before I discovered my orientation: classical, Irish folk, big band. I have joined a discussion group, and we talk about being gay, but also other things which helps to show each other what our interests are so that we can plan activities other than going to bars.

Kajin65991: Just a quick note. I am a gay man, but admire that lesbian talk groups are more common.

EvaS: Not, getting back to the tape, what progress do you feel has been made so far?

NOTHETTAPE: Lots of progress in terms of more visible models on T.V. and more openly gay elected officials. And there are at least 8 states with civil rights protection. Being able to say it out loud and not whisper in dark corners is a big deal. The love that dared not speak its name is now sometimes accused of being the love that won't shut up:)

EvaS: Then, what needs to be done still?

NOTHETTAPE: Having the Supreme Court rule Amendment Two unconstitutional would be nice for those of us here in Colorado.:) Getting to the point where it's not odd or the object of curiosity would be nice.

ElephasMax: Pardon my ignorance, but what is Amendment Two?

NOTHETTAPE: Amendment Two, if it goes into effect, would overturn anti- discrimination laws for sexual orientation, among other things. It would make it illegal to protect gays from discrimination. There is lots more, but I don't want to take us too far off topic :)

EvaS: Not, tell us about the misinformation that most people have on this. You go into some detail on the tape. I mean, on being gay or lesbian or bi.

NOTHETTAPE: The myths are endless. That all gays are mentally ill, that all a lesbian needs is a good man and all a gay man needs is a woman to fix him, that gays recruit and molest children, and so on and on and on.

EvaS: How do we fight this kind of misinformation?

NOTHETTAPE: We have to find ways to get people to go beyond the emotional reactions and look critically at the myths. We also have to be visible enough so that everyone knows that he/she knows someone who is lesbian, or gay, or bisexual.

EvaS: Don't you think most people do?

NOTHETTAPE: Sure. But sometimes they don't know it. Or at least not from being told.Betty Berzon's description of the social contract about the silence is great. About being silent and therefore getting to be part of society. That's how the closet works.

EvaS: I see what you mean.

Ersaminor: What would you say to a nice straight guy who comes on to you in a bar? I met one I'd like for a friend.

NOTHETTAPE: Not an easy question! Depends on how safe you feel about the guy and the bar :)

EvaS: Not, why is it that you don't like the terms, the gay lifestyle, homosexual, sexual identity?

NOTHETTAPE: Let me take them one at a time. I hate the term "lifestyle" because it sounds like being gay is a fashion statement. Homosexual is a term I avoid just because its been so emotionally laden (negatively that is) for so long. Sexual identity, I think, is easy to mistake for gender identity, whether you're male or female. Since one of the myths is that gay men want to be women and vice versa for lesbians, the term sexual identity adds to the confusion.

EvaS: How *do* people become gay, lesbian or bisexual? When do they discover this?

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