So I recently watched an episode of Sex and The City (SATC season 4) which annoyed me quite a bit. It was the episode where Samantha, who is known for her insatiable appetite for men, announced to her squad that she's dating a woman.
This announcement was of course not received particularly well by her three friends who are perpetually talking about men over cocktails or coffee.
Firstly, the fact that this apparently meant she's lesbian and not bisexual or sexually fluid was problematic because we all know sexuality doesn't happen in fixed binaries.
Secondly, they all treated her relationship with Maria as though it were just a phase (well the relationship didn't last very long, but that's another conversation) and they undermined its authenticity.
What made this worse is that Carrie and co. only asked about Samantha's new relationship out of obligation rather than the genuine interest they usually showed any other time one of them had a new man in their life.
And finally, the lesbian sex euphemisms which followed throughout the episode were a bit backward for a TV series which was one of the first of its kind to celebrate sexually liberated women.
Granted, season four of this series aired in the early 2000s, where a lot of conversations were still taboo and audiences weren't so "woke" and that has definitely made rewatching old series such as SATC and Friends rather uncomfortable in the progressive year of 2017.
And maybe the time in which such episodes were set can be the reason we give their writers the benefit of the doubt? Perhaps.
But this got me thinking about how those of us who have friends who form part of the LGBTQ community may be just as problematic as Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte (check your privilege a little more if you're a Charlotte) without even realising it.
So I spoke to one of my queer friends not only as a means of checking my hetero privilege, but also to shed some light on how we inadvertently make being in heteronormative spaces a very uncomfortable experience for LGBTQ people.
I could tell this was a subject matter very close to my mate's heart, so in the true spirit of practicing what you preach, I did not chime in with any of my queer ally views when he told me about some of our irksome heteronormative ways (because we all now how privileged allies like to dominate conversations which aren't actually about them).
This is what he had to say:
We're not "different" just because we're your friend
"Heeeeeeey faaaaam! Where do I start? For one, hetero people have this thing of saying shit stuff about gay people and then saying 'well except for you, you're not too much' or 'you're different from the other gay guys.'"
Lesson: Having a queer friend doesn't give you a free pass to make backhanded homophobic comments. You will be dragged, fam.
We're not your accessories
There is a recurring conversation about how cisgender women want to live out their Will & Grace friendship fantasies through their gay best friend.
And while it's totally normal for a woman to have a gay best friend, what's not cool is how a lot of gay guys end up feeling like you're just using them as just an accessory - like a handbag which you may or may not like next year.
So just because you seem to think being woke and embracing gender fluidity is now wavey, you also want to jump in on the trend and declare "some of my best friends are queer" every chance you get.
Lesson: Befriend people because you genuinely like them regardless of their sexuality, race or religion and not because it earns you "liberal" street cred or it seems like the "cool millennial" thing to do.
I also had a chat with a fellow tweep, @ItsMbasa (Mbasa Welemu) who is quite vocal about matters relating to her sexuality.
And she shared the following grievances:
Stop asking people in queer relationships who the "guy" is and who the "girl" is
"It's understandable that some queer relationships do implement hetero standards in their respective relationships, but the question is really inappropriate."
Lesson: This is just as inappropriate as asking a recently married couple when they're having a baby. Stop asking people questions which put them in uncomfortable situations. You don't know what may trigger someone, so just stop.
Misgendering someone is offensive
"Not everyone who identifies as homosexual is struggling with gender identity. It's very rude to use the wrong pronouns."
Lesson: It's not up to us to decide someone's gender identity on their behalf regardless of how masculine or feminine they may look.
Bisexual people are not confused
This one comes up a lot, yet people are still biphobic towards bisexual people and throw around statements like "If a man is bisexual, he's just gay," and "if a woman is bisexual, she's just experimenting - she'll go to back to men."
And what I get from this is that no matter which way you look at it, somehow everyone must be attracted to men?
Mbasa advises that people read up on topics such as bisexuality and sexual fluidity before just assuming that bisexual people are confused.
Lesson: Read this detailed explanation from The Conversation about what it means to be sexually fluid.
Queer people are not a fetish
"We are not experiments. Be sexually fluid, it's cool. But choose your words wisely when speaking about sexual exploration with queer people. We are not a fetish."
Lesson: Dating people who identify as queer is not just something we heterosexual folk should be doing just to add to our bucket list of sexual adventures.
Respect queer spaces
"It's annoying and inappropriate to invite yourself into a queer space unless we know that you are harmless."
Lesson: This is not to say that the LGBTQ community is putting up a huge "you can't sit with us" sign, but we can't just assume that our presence at certain gatherings will make everyone there feel comfortable.
You know how women fear (or feel less secure in) environments which are dominated by men? Same thing.
We really need to start listening more and speaking less when our friends/family from the LGBTQ community speak.