Blog Against Heteronormativity Day
Today is Blog Against Heteronormity Day! Let's take, as the consummate text about heteronormity, The White House website, a pre-eminent URL for political rhetoric and gendered government to which more Americans have been turning for information. What is striking about this collection of webpages, as digital ephemera, is how gays and lesbians are simply omitted from the dominant discourse rather than morally castigated explicitly.
For example, according a series of searches that I did on the site, the president and his aides generally avoid the words "homosexual" or "gay," even in response to direct questions from reporters. The exception might be the rare use of the phrase "gay marriage" or mentions of Vice President Cheney's gay daughter. As a rule, however, specific questions about the civil and political rights of non-heterosexual citizens are generally nullified with assertions that marriage is between a man and a woman or similar biology-is-culture propositions, even if the question has nothing to do with heterosexual practices and norms. Of course, the word "gay" also appears in relation to a number of first ladies in the White House (including Mrs. Washington and Mrs. Coolidge).
The annual Easter Egg Roll is currently highlighted on the White House website, where it is illustrated with nineteen-fifties style graphics and Cold War iconography. Students of Pennsylvania Avenue history may know the event was desegregated during the Eisenhower administration, closed to the public (and limited to military families) in 2003, and was rarely rained out. According to national and international news coverage, this year The Family Pride Coalition organized gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender parents to sign up en masse for the event and arranged for successful registrants to wear colored leis to identify themselves in images that would be disseminated by the mainstream media.
Although over two hundred such non-traditional families registered for tickets, there were no mentions of the activists' plans on the Ask the Whitehouse page on the Egg Roll, and no images of lei-wearers in photos published on whitehouse.gov after the event. Then again, publicists for this image-conscious White House also generally chose pictures without umbrellas, raincoats, and other indicators that there was considerable precipitation on the day of the Egg Roll.
As one silver lining, there is this picture of a same-sex couple on the White House site, although they are identified as merely homosocial White House "volunteers" not visiting activists.