Annie Swetha- Intersectionality, Heteronormativity, and Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Families

Main argument: How individuals with multiple marginalized identities (Black LGBT’s) are more vulnerable to the heteronormative oppressions of the society.

Sub arguments

Using an intersectional analysis the article identifies the flaw in limiting heteronormativity to the categories of gender and sexuality.It tries to illustrate heteronormativity as constitutive of class, race, gender and sexuality.

“Heteronormativity is more than the process of patriarchy, heterosexism and compulsory heterosexuality; it also contains elements of racial and class “othering”(Ashley&Battle,5)

Using the theories of Cohen and other theorist, the article aims to analyze heteronormative from a different perspective. This “mythical norm” or “illusory universality” is shown to be the root cause for caste or race related discrimination. By drawing reference to the multiple marginalized position of the Black LGBT society, the article the projects how race and caste occupies a significant position in the heteronormative system of oppression.

The article shows the hierarchies which exists among the marginalized societies by showing the privileged position of white LGBT than their black counterparts. It shows how black homosexuals are further marginalized within their own community as well as by the heteronormative societal structure. Therefore the article adopts the strategy of intersectional analysis to show the ‘invisible identities’ of the black individuals.

In this article the issues of heteronormativity are analyzed within an American contexts where racism plays a dominant role.The article points out the labelling of black identity as ‘the other’ in the American society. This serves as an instance to show the marginalized position of the Black LGBT’s. On closer examination this situation can be related to the first wave feminism where the sufferings of the black women are left unattended. In the words of Somerville,

“White western normality became constructed on the basis of black deviance, with an imagined black hyper-heterosexual deviance at the heart of enterprise.” (Ashley&Battle,5)

The article draws a close examination to the pathological/cultural dysfunction.According to this model blackfamilies follows a non-normative family structure.In American context this deviant family structure is the root cause for all the social illness committed by the black individuals.Because of this certain rights and privileges granted to the heteronormative subjects (white) are denied to this community.It shows how heteronormative ideologies functions to force the black individuals to assimilate the “normative notions of family, gender and sexuality”.8Thus the article points outs the ways in which black gender and sexualities are marginalized from the normative center of the society. It also shows how in the process of analyzing the issues of gender and sexuality ,we often forget the important nuances of race and class in the normative structure of the society.

The article points out how black LGBT individuals are often at a greater risk for physical and mental health related illness due to societal discrimination. The major issues affecting the black LGBT’s are related to the issues of same-sex marriage, eligibility for welfare reforms and adoption.

Marriage: When it comes to marriage heteronormative family structures becomes the crucial issues of concern for the black LGBT completely as same-sex marriage is not allowed in most of the countries.

Welfare: Most of the welfare policies privilege heteronormative family structure. This hinders the black LGBT’s in gaining any economic support from the government.

Adoption: Same-sex couples are banned from adoption children in wanting to form a complete family structure. This shows the imbibed assumptions of heterosexual couples being a decent parents, while homosexuals parents being a threat to the child’s future.


Using an intersectionality framework the article aims to understand the social issues and marginalized position of the black LGBT society.


Battle,Juan ,and Colin Ashley. “Intersectionality, Heteronormativity, and Black Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender(LGBT) Families” Black Women, Gender +Families,2.1(2008):1-24.Web



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