JJ Vincent dug up a questionnaire designed to get people thinking—and talking —about this topic in a new way.
I first discovered this questionnaire during a sociology class in college in 1993, and it reappeared thoughout my years as a student, activist, and sex educator. Seeing as my paper copies have probably long since disintegrated, and I have no idea how to use my scanner anyway, I found a copy of it online.
The Heterosexual Questionnaire is attributed to Martin Rochlin, Ph.D., 1972 (1977 in some sources). It was designed to let heterosexuals experience, to some degree, what gays experience. Unfair and irrational questions and assumptions made of gays and lesbians are reversed to be asked of straight people.
Every time I used this in an educational or discussion environment, I was amazed to see people’s faces as they searched for answers. Their expressions usually ranged from confusion to aha!…their verbal answers often came slowly, with a furrowed eyebrow. I was very happy when the response, after reading the questions, was along the lines of, “Ok, I get it. But why would anyone even ask a gay person this?”.
Gay people are becoming more accepted by mainstream culture in business, families, schools, and fields that were unimaginable 40 years ago. Some of these questions are a little dated. But there will always be a need to challenge people’s assumptions—and maybe change their point of view.
1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
2. When and where did you decide you were a heterosexual?
3. Is it possible this is just a phase and you will out grow it?
4. Is it possible that your sexual orientation has stemmed from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
5. Do your parents know you are straight? Do your friends know? How did they react?
6. If you have never slept with a person of the same sex, is it just possible that all you need is a good gay lover?
7. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality… can’t you just be who you are and keep it quiet?
8. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
9. Why do heterosexuals try to recruit others into this lifestyle?
10. A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual… Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual teachers?
11. Just what do men and women do in bed together? How can they truly know how to please each other, being so anatomically different?
12. With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
13. How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive, exclusive heterosexuality?
14. Considering the menace of overpopulation how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?
15. Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective? Don’t you feel that he or she might be inclined to influence you in the direction of his or her leanings?
16. There seem to very few happy heterosexuals. Techniques have been developed that might enable you to change if you really want to. Have you considered trying aversion therapy?
– Martin Rochlin, Ph.D., 1972
Kind of strange, isn’t it? And yet with the current heated political and social rhetotic about the rights of gays, or the rightness of them having the rights to marry, adopt children, these topics are still part of the fabric of our conversation. Turn the ideas and assumptions on their heads, and the conversations will take a very different course.
—Photo James Sarmiento/Flickr