Assuming Heterosexuality

Ryan Hughes

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I don't think it is necessarily wrong to assume that, but I do try to avoid that assumption myself. I have been guilty of making it a few times, as well. It is important to remember that it is better to get to know others by their personalities, ideas, philosophies, and quirks rather than by their sexuality, though. It is somewhat insulting to define a person entirely by their sexuality, as in reality, that makes for only a fraction of who they are as a whole. Think of it this way: I would feel tremendously insulted if all anyone ever saw about me was that I was a heterosexual. They would say: "I met this one hetero guy in class today, I don't remember his name, but damn, he was really hetero."

See? it can diminish people to one single personality trait rather than seeing them as they are: a collection of ideas, philosophies and traits, often conflicting with our preconceptions and assumptions. Heterosexuals tend to assume heterosexuality, and while it remains the most common orientation, the reason we assume it may just be a certain comfort with ourselves and our sexuality. Homosexuality tends to be more complex, as coming out of the closet risks backlash from friends and even family members, and cuts the number of potential partners down rather dramatically. As such, sexuality and orientation tends to be closer to the conscious mind of homosexuals. Whereas heterosexuals tend to forget or become complacent.

None of this implies that the op did anything wrong. As I said, I have done this before on occasion. It is just that I try to not assume any kind of orientation out of consideration for others.
 

Hawki

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I assume most people I meet are hetrosexual. I don't think that makes me a bigot, it's the same I assume that most adults can drive, or most people aren't colour-blind (not that I'm saying homosexuality is anything like colour-blindness of course). As a personal example, one of my friends in a writing group I'm part of mentioned that she was gay off-hand after I'd known her for awhile. My reaction was simply "oh" and we continued talking as normal. I didn't know of her orientation before then, but it didn't change our interactions or friendship or anything like that.
 

CrystalShadow

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Assumptions are always dangerous. They are, after all prone to being wrong.

But... On the whole, assuming people are heterosexual isn't that unreasonable. Most are.

Estimates vary on how prevalent homosexuality is, but even with the most extreme estimates (which suggest something like 1 in 4 people is gay), it's still a minority.
On the whole, more likely than not, the people you see ARE heterosexual.

But... As with all assumptions, sometimes you'll be wrong. And you simply have to be prepared for that if you rely on assumptions to any degree. (And everyone does... Not making assumptions and generalisations at least some of the time is nearly impossible.)

So... No, it's not wrong as such, just... Be aware that it won't always be correct.
 

MHR

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It's not one of those things I'm going to be overly concerned with. I assume that if someone wanted me to know they were homosexual they'd have some indication like they'll be wearing double earrings and product if they were a guy or a plaid shirt and a mancut if they're a girl. I see that often. Some people don't want the hassle that comes with everybody knowing their orientation, so they're often fine with just being treated like everyone else until otherwise noted.

It's not up to me to play guessing games or be politically careful about everything at all times. I'm not a politician. I'm not getting corporate kickbacks to kiss ass.

It's not a big deal. Treating it like it is is probably what's going to be more awkward. Just chill out and don't be an asshole.
 

ThreeName

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No, it's statistically likely. I still say things like "How's the sex/romance life" rather than boyfriend/girlfriend to people whose sexuality I have no idea of though, just in case, but internally I still assume heterosexuality because it's got the higher chance.

It only becomes bad if you question why they're homosexual or similar. Just go with the flooow
 

Starbird

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Captain_Heavy said:
A while ago I met someone at work. I never talked much with them but later found out that they were homosexual and it surprised me. I don't care about other people's sexuality but It got me to thinking: is it wrong to assume that someone you meet is heterosexual?
No. Not at all. While homosexuality is finally no longer a dirty word - it isn't the 'norm'. The vast majority are hetero.
 

lacktheknack

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I tend to not think about peoples' sexual preference one way or the other, really, unless they bring them up or introduce me to their partner. "Not My Business" means "Not My Business".

I often have a bunch of base assumptions when I meet someone, but sexuality is not included.

Have I reached Maximum Asexual Prude status yet?
 

latenightapplepie

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I just go ahead and assume everyone is at least a little bit queer, that or I don't think about it at all until it's mentioned.
 

Lil_Rimmy

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Yeah, it's exactly the same as assuming the people I meet are right handed or have all four limbs still attracted and working - simply because it's the majority. Whilst it would be unlikely to come up with someone that I have just met, if I ever have to apply knowledge I simply use the majority, and if I'm wrong get corrected and everyone continues on their merry way. Assumptions exist for a reason, and frankly it's a lot easier to be mostly correct or get corrected than have to ask every single time, especially about things that are unlikely to come up. So if someone saw me and assumed I didn't suffer from migraines, that's exactly what I would expect. The only thing that would come up is if I were to have or be getting a migraine at the time, in which a three second "I suffer from migraines ow my head" changes the assumption to the correct answer and we skip down pre-mentioned merry pathway.
 

Torque2100

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Given that, at any time, 97% of the population will be Straight, it's not entirely unreasonable to assume Heterosexuality.
 

Agayek

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Captain_Heavy said:
A while ago I met someone at work. I never talked much with them but later found out that they were homosexual and it surprised me. I don't care about other people's sexuality but It got me to thinking: is it wrong to assume that someone you meet is heterosexual?
Not really. The overwhelming majority of the population (95+% IIRC) is heterosexual, and there's exactly zero visual cues to indicate sexuality, so it's safe to assume that any random person you meet is straight. If that's not the case, they can correct you if it ever becomes relevant.
 

Timpossible

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For one thing that shows that homosexuals do not fit in all those stupid stereotypes. You can't say if someone is gay by his look etc.

And is it wrong/bad to assume heterosexuality? I don't think so. Because it's not something you can see and heterosexualtiy is the usual I think it's not something terrible or rude to asume heterosexuality.
 

Agayek

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thaluikhain said:
As mentioned, statistically you are likely to be correct.

OTOH, why do you need to make that assumption anyway? Why can't you just stick them in the "unknown" box until it becomes relevant?

The assumption, in of itself, isn't a problem, but you are likely to say or do things differently having made it.
The way I read the OP, it was less a conscious assumption and more that he was simply surprised by finding out his coworker was gay. It's kinda like walking up toward someone who looks just like a friend from behind, so you think they are your friend, and when they turn around, you're surprised that they're not. Exact same logic here.
 

Saltyk

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thaluikhain said:
As mentioned, statistically you are likely to be correct.

OTOH, why do you need to make that assumption anyway? Why can't you just stick them in the "unknown" box until it becomes relevant?

The assumption, in of itself, isn't a problem, but you are likely to say or do things differently having made it.
The more I see you comment the more I realize that we are completely different people.

Anyway, it isn't like there's a 50% chance that the person he met is gay or bisexual. There's probably a solid 90% chance that they are straight. It's sort of the standard. And it's likely less of scenario that the OP actively thought his coworker was straight or even cared one way or the other. I couldn't care less what someone's sexuality is, but until proven otherwise, I will figure anyone I meet is straight, but not actively say to myself, "That random guy over there is straight".

And if they aren't, how does that affect anything? Are gay people different? Lesser? Better? Do all gay people know how to make a delicious salsa that goes well with chips? Do I even care? Well, if they make a good salsa I might...

One more thing, I don't treat people different whether they are gay or straight. Sexuality is a nonissue in that. If you do treat people differently based on sexuality, maybe you have an issue.
 

Thaluikhain

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Saltyk said:
The more I see you comment the more I realize that we are completely different people.
Good thing, too, they don't like people with multiple accounts here.

Saltyk said:
And if they aren't, how does that affect anything? Are gay people different? Lesser? Better? Do all gay people know how to make a delicious salsa that goes well with chips? Do I even care? Well, if they make a good salsa I might...

One more thing, I don't treat people different whether they are gay or straight. Sexuality is a nonissue in that. If you do treat people differently based on sexuality, maybe you have an issue.
I don't mean actively discriminating against gay people, but small things like, for example, saying "You need a girlfriend" is very different if the person you are saying it to is gay or straight. Now, not a great example, in that in both cases it's rather intrusive, but it's a lot worse in one case than the other.

Certainly, I don't mean to say that people will necessarily overtly discriminate against gay people (though this, of course, is an issue), but assuming everyone to be in the majority, even the vast majority, until you know differently is likely to make things difficult for those that are not. Now, it's something everyone does, of course, there's way too many possible minorities someone could fall into, but being gay is a large and obvious one, one that society isn't doing too well at accepting.
 

M0rp43vs

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Nope, nothing wrong at all. Especially since you mention you don't give a shit either way. Though going by this thread, I guess it doesn't hurt to ask (unless they are heavily in the closet or something, I don't know).

Though for me, I tend to subscribe to Schrodinger's Asexual. Assume they are not interested until the waveform collapses and they tell me, or I ask them or I find them with a penis in their mouths. Its not like sexuality has much bearing on their character.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Well most people are or identify as heterosexual so it's not like you're "making an ass of u and me" when you assume as much.
 

Sleepy Sol

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I wouldn't say so. My personal reaction would just be "oh, well okay" and then I'd move on.

Of course, I'm not particularly worried about the sexual preference of practically everybody I converse with in real life or online, since it tends not to be relevant to most conversations.
 

Lieju

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I have an issue with that, because it makes me feel like I'm lying, and when they do find out they were wrong I'm afraid of their reaction.


I'd wish it was one of those things people didn't feel the need to assume.
Or treat people the same no matter what their sexuality.
This kind of thing is just a part of how non-heterosexual people are made invisible or considered something weird.
Like how, for example, back when I was in school, the sex-ed didn't go into detail on homosexual sex, it was just mentioned, (as in, 'gays exist') and stuff like bisexuality wasn't even touched upon.

Because it was assumed everyone was straight.
I was sitting there in the class really wanting to ask how lesbians have sex but didn't dare, because you know, I was a teenager in a sex-ed class. A class that assumed all people listening were straight and wanted to have penis-in-a-vagina-intercourse.

On the whole, I'd say assuming everyone is straight is an unfortunate side-effect of the way non-heterosexuality is viewed by the society.

It doesn't make you a bad person but try to remember that you might be wrong.
And ask yourself why you care enough of a sexuality of someone you're not planning to try to have a romantic/sexual relationship with.