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Queer Blindfolding: A Case Study on Difference "Blindness" Toward Persons Who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender


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Abstract The purpose of this article is to introduce and explore the narrative strategy of queer blindfolding. Utilizing psycho-discursive qualitative methodology, the authors will draw from a case study to demonstrate how some beneficent, well-intended persons who identify as heterosexual adopt the narrative strategy of queer blindfolding as they negotiate the discourse of heteronormativity. We will map this narrative strategy, compare and contrast it to racial colorblindness, and unpack the accompanying intra-psychic conflict and defense mechanisms that are utilized by the participant in the case study. We will also demonstrate how this discursive strategy positions participants within systemic heterosexism.
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Journal of Homosexuality
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Queer Blindfolding: A Case Study on
Difference “Blindness” Toward Persons
Who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
and Transgender
Lance C. Smith PhDa & Richard Q. Shin PhDb
a The Graduate Program in Counseling, University of Vermont,
Burlington, Vermont, USA
b College of Education, University of Maryland, College Park,
Maryland, USA
Accepted author version posted online: 10 Dec 2013.Published
online: 02 May 2014.
To cite this article: Lance C. Smith PhD & Richard Q. Shin PhD (2014) Queer Blindfolding: A Case
Study on Difference “Blindness” Toward Persons Who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and
Transgender, Journal of Homosexuality, 61:7, 940-961, DOI: 10.1080/00918369.2014.870846
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Journal of Homosexuality,61:940961,2014
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0091-8369 print/1540-3602 online
DOI: 10.1080/00918369.2014.870846
Queer Blindfolding: A Case Study on Difference
“Blindness” Toward Persons Who Identify as
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
The Graduate Program in Counseling, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, USA
College of Education, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
The purpose of this article is to introduce and explore the narrative
strategy of queer blindfolding. Utilizing psycho-discursive qual-
itative methodology, the authors will draw from a case study
to demonstrate how some beneficent, well-intended persons who
identify as heterosexual adopt the narrative strategy of queer blind-
folding as they negotiate the discourse of heteronormativity. We will
map this narrative strategy, compare and contrast it to racial col-
orblindness, and unpack the accompanying intra-psychic conflict
and defense mechanisms that are utilized by the participant in the
case study. We will also demonstrate how this discursive strategy
positions participants within systemic heterosexism.
KEYWORDS queer identity, psycho-discursive, qualitative
research, difference blindness, sexual minority, modern
heterosexism, heteronormativity, social justice
The purpose of this article is to introduce and explore the narrative strat-
egy of queer blindfolding.Wedenequeer blindfolding as a discursive
position adopted by some well-intentioned heterosexual identifying indi-
viduals that results in the disappearing of queer identities, as well as the
minimization and even denial of the oppression experienced by those who
identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), and transgender. We will demon-
strate how the narrative strategy of queer blindfolding positions subjects
Address correspondence to Lance C. Smith, The Graduate Program in Counseling,
University of Vermont, 102 Mann Hall, 208 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT 05405, USA. E-mail:
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Queer Blindfolding 941
within heteronormativity and will identify the accompanying intra-psychic
conflict and defense mechanisms that support it.
Heteronormativity has been defined as the systemic processes in the
United States that clearly operates to the advantage of heterosexuals and to
the disadvantage of those who identify as LGB or transgender (Chin, 2004).
This study is grounded in the assumption that heteronormativity generates a
ubiquitous narrative force within cultural messages and institutional policies
that perpetuate heterosexual and cisgender supremacy while working to dis-
appear queer identities (cisgender individuals are those who are comfortable
with the gender they were assigned at birth). In other words, the discourse
of heteronormativity exercises power over its social subjects, engendering
heterosexual and cisgender privilege for those who subscribe to dominant
sexual and gender norms, while concomitantly fomenting the invisibility,
devaluation, and marginalization of those who transgress.
These poststructuralist assumptions (Derrida, 1997 [1967]; Foucault,
1978; Parker, 1992) have been captured by studies that have found that
heterosexual and cisgender identifying persons who express positive dis-
positions toward LGB and transgender persons often also display implicit
prejudice and hold covert, yet discriminatory attitudes (Croteau, Lark, &
Lance, 2005; Barrett & McWhirter, 2002; Kimber & Delgado-Romero, 2011;
Nadal, Rivera, & Corpus, 2010; Pearson, 2003; Smith, 2009). Moreover, while
there have been numerous studies within the last decade that examine overt
heterosexism and negative value formation among heterosexuals (Dworkin,
2002; Herek, 2000; Korfhage, 2006; Stotzer, 2009), there is much less research
examining the implicit biases of heterosexual/cisgender persons who iden-
tify as egalitarian and positively disposed toward LGB and transgender
individuals. There is also a need for research that identifies the potential
behavioral manifestations of implicit bias among well-intentioned heterosex-
ual identifying individuals. Drawing from qualitative data, this case study
will demonstrate that the narrative strategy of queer blindfolding—although
intended as an expression of egalitarianism on behalf of well-intended
heterosexuals—is a manifestation of implicit minimization of heterosexism
that contributes to the invisibility of queer identities.
We use t h e ter m queer, drawn from queer theory (Wilchins, 2004;Yep,
Lovass, & Elia, 2003), to encompass identities that do not adhere to the
heterosexual and cisgender binary: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, trans-
sexual, pansexual, intersex, genderqueer people, transsexuals, etc. While the
construct of queer blindfolding has yet to be identified by other scholars, we
suggest that queer blindfolding as a rhetorical device can be positioned prox-
imally to the construct of color-blindness or difference blindness.Becausethe
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942 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
term blindness, when used in a pejorative sense, is inherently oppressive to
those who thrive without being sighted, we choose the less offensive term
blindfolding. We also prefer the verb blindfolding as a subtle indication that
this discursive position is in some sense a choice; either consciously or sub-
consciously, subjects adopt this particular narrative strategy over others that
are available.
Difference-blindness has been defined by the philosopher Charles
Taylor as a social approach to the other that “grows organically out of the
politics of universal dignity” (Taylor, 1994, p. 39). Charitably speaking, dif-
ference blindness can be framed as an ideology that constructs all persons,
simply by being human, as worthy of dignity, respect, and equality. These
liberal ideals are then put into practice by underscoring the similarities of
the human experience of individuals, while eschewing the variances and
distinct experiences associated with difference (e.g., race, ethnicity, ability
status, sexual orientation). Manning (2009) notes that taking up this posi-
tion entails the assumption that any acknowledged inequalities and injustices
associated with difference may be resolved through education, knowledge,
and sensitivity. Grounded in the politics of universal dignity, the proponents
of difference-blindness expect to be understood as beneficent. With regard
to racial difference, difference-blindness can be succinctly captured by the
cliché, “There’s just one race, the human race.”
Critical scholars or those who share an interest in how power perme-
ates professional and societal discourses have a less charitable perspective
on the politics of universal dignity. The predominant form of difference-
blindness is known as color-blindness. Indeed, critical scholars who focus
their analyses on the systemic and institutionalized nature of racism argue
that color-blindness dominates all political discourse about race within the
U.S. (Ernst, 2010). In accordance with the politics of universal dignity, criti-
cal scholars agree that in the post–civil rights era, the color-blind discourse
situates subjects within liberal positions of equity and equality, even produc-
ing opposition to individual acts of overt racism. However, color-blindness
is ultimately understood as a pernicious discourse, primarily reinforcing
one hegemonic culture by positioning its subjects to deny White privilege,
abnegate structural and macro-systemic racism, and discredit the powerful
influence of systemic racism on individuals’ lived experiences (Bonilla-Silva,
2003;Ernst,2010; Neville, Worthington, & Spanierman, 2001). In other words,
color-blindness renders systemic racism invisible. It “disappears” the issue.
As our data will demonstrate, we suggest that queer blindfolding operates in
a similar manner:
Positioning subjects to minimize heterosexual privilege
Eschewing the egregious negative effects of heteronormativity
Buttressing the invisibility of queer identities
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Queer Blindfolding 943
Unlike studies that examine overt heterosexism within heterosexual per-
sons who identify as negatively disposed toward LGB and transgender
individuals, this study explores the discursive positions of heterosexual per-
sons who identify as positively disposed. Scholars have observed a general
trend toward a higher level of acceptance of LGB individuals in con-
temporary U.S. society (Shelton & Delgado-Romero, 2011). For example,
research studies surveying the current generation of college students—
the “millennials”—have documented more positive attitudes toward sexual
minority persons than ever before (Coomes & DeBard, 2004; Strauss & Howe,
2003). Clearly, this societal trend stands in contrast to the many ways in
which LGB and transgender individuals continue to be marginalized in U.S.
society. LGB and transgender individuals are excluded from meaningful cit-
izenship in society through various cultural and institutionalized forms of
discrimination such as increasing levels of harassment and violence (U.S.
Department of Justice, 2010; Greytak, Kosciwk, & Diaz, 2009; Kosciwk,
Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2010), disparate levels of educational attain-
ment (Barrett, Pollack, & Tilden, 2002), and the denial of marriage equality.
These societal developments have created a paradox between the clear evi-
dence of heterosexual/cisgender supremacy and the widespread support for
egalitarianism (Norris, 1991). This context has also set the stage for the evo-
lution of traditional, overt heterosexism into the more subversive modern
The construct of modern heterosexism has evolved from the concepts
of modern racism and modern sexism (Swim, Aikin, Hall, & Hunter, 1995),
which are trends toward more subtle and covert forms of discrimination
directed toward, respectively, people of color and women (Cowan, Heiple,
Marquez, Khatchadourian, & McNevin, 2005). Individuals who operate from
the modern heterosexist perspective assume that LGB persons no longer
experience discrimination or unequal treatment and therefore have no right
to be angry or dissatisfied with their status in society (Cowan et al., 2005).
It has been theorized that this belief system stems from modern heterosex-
ists’ unwillingness to express their outright anti-gay attitudes in a cultural
context that no longer condones such proclamations. Instead, in an effort to
maintain an egalitarian sense of self, they subvert these attitudes into a lack
of support for LGB and transgender civil rights, while simultaneously affirm-
ing their belief in the value of LGB and transgender persons (Cowan et al.,
2005). Research and literature examining potential predictors of this form of
heterosexism, such as person–organization incongruence, social dominance
orientation, and acceptance of structural violence, has begun to emerge
(Eldridge & Johnson, 2011;Seelman&Walls,2010; Walls, 2008).
With modern heterosexism serving as a backdrop, the primary pur-
pose of this inquiry is to contribute to the small but growing literature
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944 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
focused on the ways in which dominant societal discourses associated with
heteronormativity are made manifest by persons who identify as hetero-
sexual. As opposed to previous research on modern heterosexism, the
researchers employed a qualitative inquiry and analysis to explore this
process in greater depth. Also, while previous studies have used gen-
eral samples of heterosexual participants, the inclusion criterion for the
current study was that individuals needed to identify as well-intended
“straight folks”—those who identify as heterosexual and positively disposed
toward queer-identifying persons. By interviewing this unique sample, the
researchers hoped to identify even more subtle and covert manifestations of
heteronormativity. One finding uncovered by this exploration is the narrative
strategy of queer blindfolding.
Theoretical and snowball sampling (Taylor & Bogdan, 1998) were employed
to locate self-identified heterosexual/cisgender individuals who stated
and/or demonstrated a positive disposition toward persons who identify as
LGB or transgender. An invitation for informants was disseminated among
graduate students and colleagues known to the first author. Furthermore, a
description of the study, along with a query for research informants, was
posted on various e-mail Listservs. The sample for this specific study con-
sisted of 17 informants who self-identified as heterosexual and cisgender.
Informants’ ages ranged between 22–78 years of age at the time of the
first interviews. Table 1 provides a summary of informant demographics and
additional information to assist the reader in contextualizing the results.
Grounded in poststructuralism, this study treats both the informants and
the authors as participants. Reflexivity—sensitivity to the manner in which
the researchers and the process have shaped the collected data and anal-
ysis (Mays & Pope, 2000)—is an acknowledged component of this study.
In short, interrogating our bias was crucial to this work. Reflexivity as a tool
is particularly valuable to critical qualitative research in that it promotes both
the critical consciousness and empowerment of both the participants and the
researchers (McCabe & Holmes, 2009). We the authors can attest to advances
in our own critical consciousness and continuing emancipation as a result of
this research.
The first author identifies as a White, heterosexual, cisgender, non-disabled
male from a rigid, working-class Protestant Christian background. His self-
description is as follows:
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Queer Blindfolding 945
TABLE 1 Participants’ Social Locations
Name Gender Age Ethnicity Education Ability Status
Frederick M Mid 30s Euro-American B.S. non-disabled
Emmaline F Early 40s African-American M. Ed. non-disabled
Ellen F Early 50s Ukrainian/Polish-
M.A. student non-disabled
Teofilo M Mid 40s Cuban-American Ph.D. non-disabled
Derek M Mid 40s Euro-American M. Ed. non-disabled
Natalie F Early 40s African-American Doctoral student non-disabled
Elda F Late 70s Euro-American B.A. non-disabled
Daniel M Late 20s African-American M.A. non-disabled
Anna F Mid 20s Italian-American M.A. non-disabled
Ben M Mid 20s Biracial African/Euro-
M.A. non-disabled
Dave M Mid 20s Euro-American M.A. student non-disabled
Yori F Mid 20s Indian/Filipino-
Doctoral student non-disabled
Elizabeth F Early 40s Euro-American M.A. non-disabled
Nichole F Mid 20s Jewish-American M.A. non-disabled
Nancy F Late 50s Euro-American A.A. non-disabled
Nate M Late 30s Euro-American M.A. visually
Lane M Early 30s Native American M.A. non-disabled
My father is a clergy member in a conservative Protestant denomina-
tion. Early in my development, I internalized a disposition that was
overtly fearful and prejudiced towards sexual and gender-variant minori-
ties, grounded in a literal, patriarchal, and heterosexist interpretation of
the Bible. Abandoning such an oppressive religious paradigm in early
adulthood was the first step in what has evolved into a long, at times
painful but fulfilling journey as an aspiring ally towards persons who
identify as queer. I currently hold a professorial post at a state univer-
sity in the northeastern United States. With regards to the findings of this
manuscript, I distinctly recall a point on my journey of taking up the
narrative strategy of queer blindfolding. While I no longer primarily use
this narrative strategy to negotiate heteronormativity, I feel an affinity to
towards those who do.
The second author identifies as a Korean American, heterosexual, non-
disabled male from a middle-class background. His self-description is as
My journey toward becoming an LGBTQ activist is inextricably tied to my
experiences with racial discrimination and oppression. Ironically, I recall
becoming angered at the injustices faced by sexual minorities before I
gained a critical consciousness of issues associated with race and racism.
By reflecting on this process, I have come to the conclusion that my
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946 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
subconscious feelings of anger about living in a white supremacist soci-
ety as an Asian American were too threatening at that point in my life.
Therefore, I displaced these feelings toward individuals and institutions I
viewed as heterosexist. Despite an early awareness of the harmful impact
of heterosexism, I readily acknowledge a slow and reluctant process of
fully understanding my privileges as a heterosexual man living in a het-
erosexist, heteronormative society. I was the chair of the dissertation for
which this data was gathered. I currently hold a professorial post in a
large, public, university on the east coast.
The authors screened informants for dispositions and behaviors that are indi-
cators of positive positions toward queer-identifying persons. Based on the
critical consciousness literature, seven dispositions were identified: hetero-
sexuals (a) who have relationships with persons who identify as queer, (b)
who have an interest in queer studies and culture, (c) who act with intention
against heterosexist acts, (d) who exhibit empathy regarding the oppression
of queer persons, (e) who identify as socially pluralistic and egalitarian,(f)
who see unity in the human experience, regardless of sexual orientation or
gender expression, and (g) who advocate for the queer community. Given
that there is no consensus in the literature regarding how to precisely opera-
tionalize “positively disposed” heterosexuals, drawing from our own process
of reflexivity we determined that informants had to exhibit four of the seven
positive dispositions in order to qualify for the study.
When it was determined that an informant was positively situated
toward queer identifying persons, informants were asked to sit for an inter-
view. Interviews were conducted over a period of two years. Prior to the
initial interview, informants read a consent form outlining the nature of the
study and specifying the safeguards. The aims of the study were then dis-
cussed, confidentiality and how it would be protected were explained, and
voluntary participation was highlighted; participants were informed that they
should feel free to refuse any questions during the interview, and that they
were also free, at any point in the process, to withdraw their consent to par-
ticipate. All informants signed the consent form before beginning the initial
All interviews were conducted by L. Smith, recorded with an audio
device and transcribed. During the interviews, notes were taken regarding
the informant’s body language and perceived nonverbal impressions. To do
justice to the depth and complexity of the informants’ processes, most infor-
mants were interviewed at least twice. During the interviews, I (L. Smith)
was very deliberate in my efforts to foster a context of openness, equality,
empathy, and respect. First, informants were asked demographic questions
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Queer Blindfolding 947
to determine how they identify their social locations. Next, informants were
asked open-ended questions regarding their experiences and perspectives
related to persons who identify as queer. Informants were encouraged to
respond with stories and free associations whenever possible. Finally, infor-
mants were asked to provide a biographical sketch of their life experience.
Throughout the telling of their life story, they were asked to relate various
developmental milestones to their identity as a heterosexual, and to their
perspectives on queer issues.
The initial interviews lasted between 1 and 3 hours. Informants were
then invited to participate in a follow-up interview. Eleven of the seventeen
informants participated. The purpose was to obtain elaboration, clarifica-
tion, and further depth regarding stories and responses given during the
initial interview. Each follow-up interview lasted from 30 to 90 minutes. The
combined total audio data for each informant was between 1 and 4 hours.
In this study, a psycho-discursive approach to qualitative inquiry and analysis
was employed. This approach is informed by the poststructuralist assump-
tions of Derrida (1967) and Foucault (1978), which consider language as
not merely descriptive but constitutive. Also, in alignment with traditional
discursive analysis, we are interested in the productive power of discourse
in the construction of social reality (Parker, 1992; Willig, 2008). According
to Robinson (1999), discourses write “[t]he ways in which people act on
the world and the ways in which the world acts on individuals” (p. 73).
Dominant discourses “are so structured to mirror power relations that we
can see no other ways of being” (Parker, 1992, p. xi). As such, discourses
reinforce systems of power and privilege by providing justifications for cul-
tural and institutionalized forms of discrimination such as racism, classism,
sexism, heteronormativity, and ableism. By applying a form of discourse
analysis, we hope to identify the discourses in which our informants take up
positions: specifically, the positions that allow beneficent, well-intentioned
heterosexual/cisgender persons to negotiate heteronormativity.
While traditional discursive analysis addresses the questions of what
discourse is adopted, the various methods of psychoanalytically informed
analysis address why participants invest themselves in certain discourses
rather than others (Frosh, Phoenix, & Pattman, 2003; Garfield, Reavey, &
Kotecha, 2010;Georgaca,2005; Gough, 2004,2009; Henwood & Procter,
2003; Hollway & Jefferson, 2005; Midgley, 2006). A psychodynamically
informed method is also particularly helpful when working with toxic mate-
rial such as prejudice and oppression (Garfield, Reavey, & Kotecha, 2010).
Drawing on the work of Hollway and Jefferson (2005), we are interested
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948 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
in what produces the specific “choice” of discourse investment a particular
individual makes from among the available narrative choices.
Grounded in the more general yet fundamental tenets of psychodynamic
theory (Freud, S., 1927; Freud, A. 1936; Klein, 1932; Kohut, 1977), we hold
that the choice of discourse investment is tied to a dynamic subconscious
that is constantly at work to maintain integration and emotional equilibrium
through the construction of a well-defined, internally consistent sense of self
(Mohr, 2002). That is to say, one chooses to position oneself within particular
discourses when a discourse fortifies and buttresses one’s sense of self (or
ego). For our participants, this means investing in discourses that protect and
reproduce a beneficent, pluralistic, and egalitarian sense of self. Conversely,
one rejects or struggles to maneuver through discourses that interfere with or
threaten one’s sense of self. These maneuvers are often accomplished with
the aid of ego-defense mechanisms (Freud, 1936). Therefore, by seeking to
understand how our participants work to enhance, make more secure, and
protect their egos from threat, it is possible to formulate a theory as to why
they invest in certain discourses over others.
Furthermore, the work of Jacques Lacan (1977[1957]) allows us to inte-
grate a psychoanalytic approach with discursive theory without binding
ourselves in an epistemic paradox (Gough, 2009;Parker,1992). Rather than
viewing the subconscious as an essentialized phenomenon that resides in
the minds of persons, we agree with Georgaca (2005) that
the unconscious is located in texts and not in the minds of individuals.
The unconscious is a language speaking through the speaker, by virtue of
speech saying something more, or something less, or something different
than the speaker intends it to. (p. 84)
In other words, we recognized that the psychoanalytic constructs utilized in
this study—the subconscious, self, and ego—are themselves discursive con-
structions that are not epistemologically immune to de Saussure’s linguistic
turn, nor do they escape Derrida’s deconstructionism.
Furthermore, accounting for the subconscious within qualitative data
means that we assume (a) all persons are more or less subconsciously selec-
tive about what they will, or can, recall, (b) participants may not know why
they experience or feel things in the way that they do, and (c) participants are
unconsciously motivated to disguise the meaning of some of their feelings
and behaviors (Hollway & Jefferson, 2005).
Engaging in a psycho-discursive methodology, like implementing most
methods of textual analysis, does not follow a recipe-like process and “can-
not be molded into a set of procedures” (Madill & Barkham, 1997, p. 234).
With close adherence to the psychoanalytic-oriented procedures set out by
Hollway and Jefferson (2005), and following guidelines for discourse analy-
sis research (Willig, 2008), we engaged in an iterative process. I (L. Smith)
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Queer Blindfolding 949
immersed myself in the data, reading each transcript numerous times, until
a great and extensive familiarity with the data was attained. Next, I wrote
biographical pen portraits of each informant (Hollway & Jefferson) to allow
for the integration of the informant’s life story into the analysis. At this point,
the analytic process of linking, as outlined by Hollway and Jefferson, was
practiced in order to arrive at an interpretation.
Interpretations were guided by inquiries into the following:
Constructions of the informant’s self in the story: the informant’s social
location as heterosexual, cisgender, and his or her other social identities
Discourses drawn upon to locate the informant’s struggle against
heteronormativity and the positioning of the informant’s sense of self
within such discourses
The informants’ biographical data: how their constructions of early life
experience in their formative years inform their positioning with discourses
Defensive strategies used to negotiate and produce heteronormative
discourse—e.g., denial, projection, reaction formation
The authors’ subjectivities and internal responses to the informant’s story—
i.e., countertransference to the story.
After I arrived at preliminary interpretations, the second author of this study,
R. Shin, read all of the transcripts independently and served as an audi-
tor, questioning or affirming the preliminary interpretations, and offering
alternative analyses.
In order to present a rich, in-depth, and nuanced analysis, the data from
this study will be presented in case study form, focusing primarily on nar-
rative data from one participant given the pseudonym of Elizabeth. While
the narrative strategy of queer blindfolding was demonstrated in the data by
a number of participants, Elizabeth’s transcript is particularly emblematic of
the complexity of this narrative strategy. Through a case study analysis of
Elizabeth’s data, we demonstrate how taking up a queer blindfold allows
subjects to occupy a social location wherein queer identities are no more or
less noticeable, greater or less conspicuous, and provoke no more or less of
an emotional or behavioral response than heterosexual and cisgender iden-
tities. In other words, they are as invisible as heterosexual and cisgender
identities. This narrative strategy fosters the construction of a social contact
reality: a reality where, when one comes into social contact with another
person, of the many personal characteristics and social locations about that
particular person that one would consciously entertain, queer orientation is
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950 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
not one. Moreover, this form of social contact is scripted as a conscious,
positive disposition toward LGB and transgender persons. That is to say,
participants suggest that donning a queer blindfold is a benevolent way of
What we find distinctly arresting about this narrative strategy is that
incongruity, discrepancy, and dissonance are integral components. In other
words, a constituent component to taking up the queer blindfolding narrative
is the conflict between the subject’s conscious intention and subconscious
disposition. Taking an in-depth case study examination of Elizabeth’s tran-
script allows us to highlight the intra-psychic conflict that accompanies an
investment in this narrative strategy.
To begin, we will examine excerpt 1.2. This excerpt begins very early in
the interview with Lance asking Elizabeth what feelings present themselves
when she encounters someone who identifies as lesbian or gay. She replies:
E: Not [many]. I don’t really think of that as being any kind of exception.
A little bit like you. Again, how do you feel about that person with blue
eyes [chuckle]. It doesn’t evoke anything that this person is any different
from myself.
L: Mm hmm.
E: So I don’t know if that’s always been true. I guess I might look at it as
an opportunity to befriend someone who is different, or perceived as
different, but it’s really not such a big part of consciousness either.
L: So when you say not a lot, ... uh ....
E: It’s not something you dwell on. Like, if you were to introduce me, ‘May
I introduce you to my neighbor Ms. Robinson?’ Well Ms. Robinson has
five kids, she’s a sculptor, she’s been divorced, her heterosexuality is just
one of the many factors that plays into her being. It’s not something that
you’re going to carry away and say, ‘Well Ms. Robinson is heterosexual.’
You’re not going to dwell on that over and over again when you think
about this new person I introduced you to.
L: Mm hmm.
E: It’s just one of many things you’ll remember that will bring somewhat of
the whole person, Ms. Robinson. Is that clear?
When Elizabeth comes into contact with someone who identifies as
lesbian or gay, she consciously anchors her positive disposition within the
narrative that one’s queer identity is as insignificant to her as one’s eye color.
As she states in line 1, she doesn’t “really think of [their orientation] as being
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Queer Blindfolding 951
any kind of exception.” After saying this, she looks at me (Lance)—her blue-
eyed gaze meeting my blue eyes—grins and adds in line 2, “It’s a little bit like
...‘How do you feel about that person with blue eyes?’” and she chuckles.
The assertion Elizabeth is making is clear, but just in case I missed it, she
clarifies in line 3: identity as a sexual minority “doesn’t evoke anything that
this person is any different from myself.” Elizabeth then intimates in line
9 that her minimal recognition of one’s lesbian or gay identity is “not such a
big part of consciousness,” and then she supports this assertion by drawing
a parallel to her heterosexual neighbor, Ms. Robinson. Elizabeth says that if
I were to meet Ms. Robinson, her heterosexual identity would receive no
greater emphasis in my awareness than her line of work or family structure.
Within this story that is intended to support Elizabeth’s narrative strategy
of queer blindfolding, the kind of social invisibility enjoyed by heterosexual
identities is underscored. Elizabeth articulates perfectly that upon meeting a
heterosexual like Ms. Robinson, of the many characteristics and social loca-
tions about this person that one would consciously entertain, heterosexuality
is not one. This is a heterosexual privilege. Those who are heterosexual
never need to think about, worry about, or negotiate hurdles related to their
own sexual orientation identity.
Elizabeth is attempting to convince me (Lance) that she equates queer
identities with heterosexual identity. There is an undercurrent of beneficence
in her claim. Indeed, sexual and gender-variant minorities will endure far less
oppression when queerness is granted social invisibility for the same reasons
that Ms. Robinson’s heterosexual identity is invisible. But Ms. Robinson’s
heterosexual identity goes unnoticed by Elizabeth because it is taken for
granted: structured by society as the blasé social norm. As will be demon-
strated within the data, Elizabeth’s claim that queer identities go unnoticed is
in conflict with her intrapersonal and interpersonal lived experience. We will
see that as she and I further explore her narrative, queer blindfolding is
exposed as a discursive strategy that fosters a form of social invisibility that
serves to repress the painful acknowledgment of queer oppression (for more
on queer [in]visibilities, see Acosta, 2011; Arend, 2005; Steinbugler, 2005;
Tucker, 2009). We will demonstrate that Elizabeth’s claim is a good intention
that has become subconsciously packaged as reality.
As mentioned earlier, Whites who invest in the discourse of color-blindness
position racism as an inconsequential social phenomena and deny the per-
vasive problem of systemic and institutionalized racial discrimination (Ernst,
2010; Neville et al., 2001). While some participants in this study follow
a parallel path regarding queer blindfolding—minimizing heterosexism—
Elizabeth’s narrative strategy is unique.
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952 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
Elizabeth is very aware of systemic prejudice toward persons who iden-
tify as LGB, has very close relationships with queer persons, and speaks
clearly about institutionalized discrimination. At later points in her tran-
script, she conveys with passion that same-sex “couples should be entitled
to any right that heterosexual couples are entitled to. Right now they are
not” (excerpt 1.3). This state of affairs leaves her emotionally affected. She
feels “sad [...] because basic legislation isn’t in place” to give same-sex “cou-
ples the same rights as heterosexual couples” (excerpt 1.4). She feels “angry
at times” that the majority of “people just don’t understand” and perceive
queer persons as “very different from heterosexual[s] ... so different that
they aren’t entitled to the same rights” (excerpt 2.4).
Elizabeth elaborates that when difference is a part of the social land-
scape, “you think one is lower than the other [...] there’s a hierarchy there”
(excerpt 2.4). This societal hierarchy that positions heterosexuals at the top
leaves her with a “sad feeling. It’s a shame, more shameful than anger”
(excerpt 2.4). As I (Lance) sit with Elizabeth in this moment as she speaks of
shame, I do not experience her as attributing dishonor or a loss of dignity to
the heterosexual community, but rather that she feels a regrettable loss for all
parties. She supports my intuition when she says afterward, “I think it must
hurt everyone. It must hurt homosexual people because they feel alienated,
marginalized, and it must hurt the heterosexual community because of what
we miss out on” (excerpt 2.4).
For Elizabeth, the narrative of queer blindfolding is clearly not grounded
in minimization of queer oppression nor lack of empathy toward sexual
minorities; rather, it stems from (1) a conscious desire of how she would
wish for the world to be, (2) the beneficent image of herself that she seeks
to maintain while bringing about such a world, and (3) the subconscious con-
flicts she experiences when coming into contact with the malevolent force
that is heteronormativity. As much as Elizabeth would like queer identities to
be an invisible social phenomenon, she is extremely aware that for a great
many, queerness is very conspicuous and triggers marginalization and prej-
udice. In psychodynamic terms, the narrative strategy of queer blindfolding
is a projection: if queerness isn’t as invisible and as insignificant to the world
as it should be, Elizabeth can make it so within her own reality. As the inter-
view continues, she lets her ego defenses down, and it becomes apparent
that as much as she would like it to be, queer identities are not invisible to
her either.
If the reader will return to excerpt 1.2, one will notice the first example
of Elizabeth’s conflictual experience with sexual minorities when she tells
me (Lance) in lines 7 and 8 that meeting someone who identifies as a
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Queer Blindfolding 953
sexual minority is “an opportunity to befriend someone who is different.” To
befriend someone based on a difference is to acknowledge that she registers
the difference. On some level, this statement presents an internal conflict,
because without a breath or a pause Elizabeth quickly qualifies in line 8
“or perceived as different”—suggesting that her awareness of this person’s
difference is predicated upon society’s perception of difference. Perhaps
due to an awareness that she has begun to tread on ice that has become
thin with inconsistency, she immediately clarifies in line 9 that this oppor-
tunity to befriend someone that is different is “really not such a big part of
consciousness either.”
I (Lance) can feel Elizabeth struggling to build a bridge from her aware-
ness of systemic inequality to her investment in the discourse of queer
blindfolding, as she tells me: “If you think of [queer identities] politically,
and you think of causes that need to be fought and won and furthered, then
it’s something that is worthy [to be] a part of” (excerpt 2.3). In other words,
in the context of politics, queer identities are not invisible. Elizabeth then
resecures to the narrative of queer blindfolding by telling me: “[J]ust like
other causes ... when you meet a person I don’t think politics is the first
thing that comes to mind” (excerpt 2.3). That is to say, as one doesn’t usu-
ally perceive another’s affiliation with the Democratic or Republican Party in
everyday contact, Elizabeth doesn’t take note of one’s queer identity.
As we continue the interview, and I (Lance) ask questions that encour-
age free-association, Elizabeth can no longer hide the intra-psychic conflict
that comes with taking up the narrative of queer blindfolding. Perhaps it is
due to the safety that was established, or the warmth and regard she feels
toward her friends who identify as queer; in any case, when she and I discuss
her relationships with her dear friends who identify as lesbian, she discloses
that when meeting someone who identifies as a queer, “ideally” she would
like their queer identity to register no more than their eye color. Elizabeth
and I then have the following dialogue (excerpt 2.14):
L: Earlier you said that now you experience a same-sex couple, their sexual
identity, ... tell me if I’m wrong, but I think I hear you say that it no
more hits your radar screen than someone’s eye color?
E: Ideally.
L: Ideally, that’s where you’d like to be ... ?
E: Yeah ...I think I still get a little fascinated.
L: Fascinated?
E: Yeah, but that’s a positive and a little bit giddy and fun: ‘Wow this is a
gay couple.’ You know, I want to be friends because it’s maybe hip, you
know it’s a neat thing. But I don’t even want to feel that. I just want it to
be normal. I think if I knew more [same-sex] couples it would be easier,
but ...but [...] it’s fascinating [...] in a unifying way.
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954 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
L: So what’s fascinating? Tell me more about what you think is fascinating
at this point in your life?
E: Exposure to something new for me. I can climb any mountain, seeing
a different view you’ve never seen before. People with interesting per-
sonalities, something that I wasn’t encouraged to be around for a good
part of my life, and now I know that I missed out on, and so it’s’s
fascinating. It’s new fodder for thought. New things to think about [big
While her ideal response to an awareness of another’s queer identity
would be an innocuous response, her authentic reaction has been identified
as a microaggression. Microaggressions are the behavioral manifestations of
oppressive discourses, which include frequently occurring insults, indignities,
and unintended discriminatory messages toward non-dominant groups (Sue,
2010). Research and literature examining this form of discriminatory behavior
has focused primarily on cross-racial interactions. Microaggressions associ-
ated with LGB and transgender individuals and groups have begun to emerge
(Shelton & Delgado-Romero, 2011). Nadal et al. (2010) have documented
some of the negative consequences of sexual orientation and transgender
microaggressions, which include chronic stress, depression, anxiety, lower
self-esteem, and an increased number of sick days. Nadal et al. and Sue have
also developed a taxonomy of microaggressions that are uniquely directed
toward sexual and gender-transgressive minorities. These include heterosex-
ist terminology, the endorsement of heteronormative or gender normative
behaviors, and the denial of societal heterosexism, to name a few.
The microaggression that Elizabeth engages in has been identified by
Nadal et al. as “exoticization” (p. 227, 2010). Exoticization is a common narra-
tive distortion internalized by some individuals from dominant and privileged
groups. Exoticization occurs when individuals focus on what they perceive
to be the “fun” and “exciting” aspects of a cultural group and sometimes
seek ways to participate with members of the group by accumulating knowl-
edge about their cultural “artifacts.” Although well intentioned on Elizabeth’s
part, viewing queer identifying persons as “a little bit giddy and fun ...
it’s maybe hip, you know it’s a neat thing” (lines 13–14) is demeaning and
problematic. This is because individuals from dominant groups who engage
in exoticization have the privilege of “celebrating” cultures without having
to acknowledge or take on the burdens associated with being part of the
devalued and marginalized group.
Finally, this exchange highlights once again the conflict between the
subject’s conscious intention and the subconscious disposition that lies at
the heart of queer blindfolding. Even though Elizabeth may not be aware
of her participation in the microaggression of exoticization, there is clearly
something distasteful to her about the disclosure: she poignantly states in
line 15 that she doesn’t “even want to feel that.” As I (Lance) explore
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Queer Blindfolding 955
her understanding of “fascinating” a bit further, her use of the metaphor
of “climbing a mountain” (excerpt 2.14, line 22–26) is striking:
Exposure to something new for me. I can climb any mountain, seeing
a different view you’ve never seen before. People with interesting per-
sonalities, something that I wasn’t encouraged to be around for a good
part of my life, and now I know that I missed out on, and so it’s’s
fascinating. It’s new fodder for thought. New things to think about [big
An avid backpacker or climber is very familiar with the arduous challenge
of slugging up a mountain for the payoff of a majestic view. This metaphor,
in addition to her disclosure of “missing out on” something (excerpt 2.14,
line 25), opens up an explanatory window into the dynamics of Elizabeth’s
investment into the discourse of queer blindfolding. What heteronormative
mountain has Elizabeth been climbing? What did Elizabeth miss out on?
Within these statements, is she alluding to the ego-driven motivation that
informs her desire to mask queer identity? Using the psychodynamic assump-
tion of the defended subject as a guide (Hollway & Jefferson, 2005), we will
argue that Elizabeth’s investment in the discourse of queer blindfolding is
a defense mechanism informed by her family’s position toward her lesbian
older sister.
Key to Elizabeth’s negotiation of heteronormativity was the moment in
her childhood when her parents disclosed her sister’s queer identity
(excerpt 2.6):
E: And then I remember clearly one day my parents telling me that my
sister was gay. And it was in a very derogatory way: ‘Well, your sister’s
gay,’ kind of tone. Very um ...‘can you believe this’ sort of accent.
Excerpt 2.7
L: And you recall your parents’ telling you that your sister was gay. Do you
recall if that was the first conversation you had with them about [queer
E: Mmm hmm. It was, and it wasn’t a conversation at all; it was just a
comment that was swept under the rug and pretty much has been ever
From that moment in her childhood, her sister’s sexual identity has never
been acknowledged or discussed by the family. The lesbian component
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956 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
of her sister was completely erased—“disappeared.” During her interviews,
Elizabeth connects her parent’s dismissal of her sister’s sexual orientation to
her sister’s troubled adolescence and her choice to live a great distance from
the rest of the family. Recall from excerpt 2.4 Elizabeth’s speaking of the
loss that the heterosexual community experiences by marginalizing sexual
Warren J. Blumenfeld, in his biographical article “How Homophobia
Hurts Everyone” (2000), writes of his experience of becoming aware of the
oppression and suffering his younger heterosexual sister endured due to his
identity as a gay man. Elizabeth never speaks of experiencing direct preju-
dice resulting from her older sister’s orientation, but one can hear a striking
echo of Blumenfeld’s article in Elizabeth’s statement that sexual prejudice
“hurts everyone” (excerpt 2.4). As a defended subject, Elizabeth’s intent of
perceiving queer identities with the same regard as eye color would be
an understandable subconscious response—not rationally logical, but emo-
tionally logical—to the tensions within herself and within her family system
regarding her sister’s lesbian orientation. There would be a powerful desire
within Elizabeth for her sister’s queer identity to be received by her family
in the same manner in which they respond to variations in the human iris.
What Elizabeth’s subconscious conflict exemplifies is that the anxiety
and dissonance of heterosexism within the lived experience of compassion-
ate and pluralistic heterosexual-identifying individuals can be a significant
force in their investment in discourses of struggle against heteronormativity.
The general tenets of psychodynamic theory promote our interpretation that
the reason “why” Elizabeth invests in the discourse of queer blindfolding is
due to a conflict between the beneficent image she has of her heterosex-
ist family and the concomitant suffering endured by her queer older sister.
The resulting dissonance manifests itself as an investment in the narrative of
queer blindfolding in order to render the egregious pain of queer oppres-
sion invisible. What would it be like for Elizabeth to open herself to the
acknowledgment that her generous, virtuous, moral, kind, and loving family
have behaved with acute prejudice toward her sister and that they propa-
gate the oppression of queer persons? Would this be an intolerable belief to
hold toward one’s own beloved family? Without having come to this place,
Elizabeth protects her family by insisting to herself that queer identities are
not that big a deal, and she models to her family the way it should be—her
sister’s sexuality should not matter any more than her eye color.
Psycho-discursive methodology is an intensive, exploratory research modal-
ity with the goal to identify discursive structures and investments, not to
test inferences nor develop theory. Establishing generalizability in a statis-
tical sense is neither the goal nor the aim of qualitative research (Bogdan
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Queer Blindfolding 957
& Biklen, 2002). Readers would be remiss to generalize the case study of
Elizabeth to all persons who identify as heterosexual and positively disposed
toward LGB and transgender persons. However, the rich quotations and deep
examination of the data will allow readers to determine the transferability of
this data to their own experience, while fostering a more complex discussion
of what it may mean for some heterosexuals to negotiate heterosexism.
For a social constructionist study such as this, credibility is established
by the reader. In other words, credibility is constituted through the reader’s
ability to access and engage with the participants’ stories (Giorgi, 1994).
We consider each reader to be an auditor regarding the validity of this study.
Within a social constructionist paradigm, it is the reader’s responsibility to
determine whether or not the analysis is consistent with the data and merits
knowledge construction. As readers seek to make meaning of this study, the
authors invite them to consider the authors’ subjectivities. Acknowledging
the process of reflexivity in this study means recognizing that our own social
locations and biases have inevitably influenced this research. Ultimately, if
the study is not presented coherently and in a form that allows for open
analysis and evaluation of the data, then it is limited in its use to the field.
In this article, we drew from a case study to identify and analyze the nar-
rative strategy of queer blindfolding. The data gathered from interviews
with Elizabeth provide an excellent window into how and why some
heterosexual-identifying persons who acknowledge having a positive dispo-
sition toward LGB and transgender individuals invest in the narrative strategy
of queer blindfolding. Perhaps one of the most important findings of the cur-
rent study is the fact that intra-psychic dissonance is a component of queer
blindfolding. The conflict between Elizabeth’s subconscious disposition and
conscious intentions were revealed using a psycho-discursive qualitative
method. Other participants in this study expressed the narrative of queer
blindfolding in statements such as, “I can’t say a specific thing that I think or
don’t think about” when coming into contact with queer identifying persons,
that another’s queer identity “doesn’t even register” and when learning about
another’s queer identity, “it’s just the same as if it’s a heterosexual.”
Recent high-profile developments in the U.S. associated with the pursuit
of justice for LGB persons (e.g., the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the
legalization of same-sex marriage in New York state) should engender both
optimism and fear. These accomplishments clearly demonstrate a positive
shift in the tide of public opinion regarding the rights of LGB individuals.
However, there are a number of inherent dangers associated with advance-
ments in ways that societies treat devalued and oppressed groups—namely,
the emergence of modern racism and modern heterosexism.
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958 L. C. Smith and R. Q. Shin
Take, for instance, the pervasive and destructive consequences that
continue to be manifested within modern racism and the accompanying
“post-racial” rhetoric. In a recent study surveying a national sample of adults
(N=417) in the U.S., researchers found that the disappearing of racism
has been so successful that Whites have now come to believe that anti-
White bias is a larger societal problem than bias directed toward Blacks
(Norton & Sommers, 2011). In similar fashion, modern heterosexism might
be expressed as the denial of macro-systemic discrimination toward LGB
and gender-nonconforming individuals along with disdain or lack of interest
toward the gay rights movement (Eldridge & Johnson, 2011).
Critical scholars committed to the stuggle for justice and equality for LGB
and transgender individuals must remain vigilant. The current study repre-
sents a contribution to the literature on heteronormativity by demonstrating
how dominant societal discourses may be expressed by well-intentioned
heterosexual-identifying individuals. Discourses that seek to disappear the
very real individual and systemic forms of discrimination that are part of
the everyday experiences of LGB and trangender individuals by blindfold-
ing heterosexuals may serve to slow down the process of creating a more
just and equitable society. Therefore, it is imperative that further research be
conducted to document the nuances and the pervasiveness of this narrative
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... The purpose of this study was to develop a psychometrically sound measure to assess heterosexism erasure, operationalized as attitudes which deny or minimize the systemic oppression of LGBQ people in the United States (Smith & Shin, 2014). It is important to note that both the measure and this article are focused on the oppression of people due to their sexual orientation. ...
... We position heterosexism erasure as an expression of modern heterosexism. The construct emerged out of a qualitative study wherein the authors sought to explore how beneficent, well-intended heterosexual identified mental health professionals negotiate their own heterosexism when working with LGBQ clients and students (Smith & Shin, 2014, 2015. Three common themes emerged. ...
... Three common themes emerged. The authors found evidence of heterosexual identified individuals (a) engaging in intentional acts of "not noticing" or ignoring the unique experiences of LGBQ people who live in a heterosexist society, (b) minimizing the negative effects of heterosexism, and (c) attempting to "disappear" sexual orientation differences between heterosexual and LGBQ persons while also operating from a premise of beneficence and egalitarianism (Smith & Shin, 2014). An example of the first theme was participants' assertions that there is no need to discuss or focus on a lesbian or gay individual's sexual orientation because it is not germane to their lived experiences. ...
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The heterosexism erasure construct captures attitudes, which deny or minimize the systemic oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) persons in the United States. Heterosexism erasure expands the interrogation of denying or minimizing discrimination (Neville at al., 2006) beyond the realm of White supremacy and into the domain of heteronormativity. The purpose of this project was to develop a psychometrically sound measure of heterosexism erasure. Two independent samples were gathered to conduct exploratory ( n = 425) and confirmatory ( n = 367) factor analyses to assess for initial reliability and validity evidence of the Heterosexism Erasure Scale (HES). Results suggest that the final 13-item HES provides a general index of heterosexism erasure as well as assesses two related, but distinct factors named Heterosexism Denial and Heterosexism Minimization. Results support the internal consistency and factor structure of the measure. Expected relationships between the HES and existing measures provide validity evidence for the instrument.
... There are several reasons why the strategy of blatant exclusion might be seen as negative among our respondents. Stating outright what or whom one does not want in a sexual or romantic partner, especially where race is concerned, goes against dominant societal discourses which encourage people to overlook differences or recognize them as problematic (Bonilla-Silva, 2014;Smith & Shin, 2014). Put another way, blatant exclusion is not the most respectful way of upholding racism, classism, heteronormativity, or other systems of domination. ...
... I don't even know what's worse at that point." His concerns about not knowing "what's worse" echo the thoughts of scholars who argue that as discrimination becomes less overt it becomes harder to address and combat (Bonilla-Silva, 2014;Smith & Shin, 2014). So, although positive reframing is a more favorable discursive strategy for some users because it helps ward off accusations of prejudice and exclusion, other users still find it to be unfairly biased to the detriment of already marginalized users. ...
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Scholars have noted how online dating technologies are one important arena in which racism, classism, heteronormativity, and other systems of domination are reproduced. This often materializes via a “personal preference” discourse—a framing of desire as unique, individual, and untethered from systems of domination. Yet underexplored is how such a discourse, which fosters prejudice in preferences, is framed as socially acceptable. This paper draws on a content analysis of 858 unique profile screenshots and in-depth interview data of 26 users of Grindr, Scruff, and Jack’d to examine how users voice their “personal preferences.” The content analysis results indicated that 24 percent of profiles listed a preference, and that most were framed in “positive” or polite ways (e.g., “I’m into…”). Analysis of interview data demonstrated that respondents engaged in what we call blatant exclusion and positive reframing in their interactions with other users to voice their “personal preferences.” Users who did not state preferences still allowed their preferences to infuse their experiences on the app. We document how users negotiated racist, classist, and heteronormative preferences and, to an extent, how these users are understanding others’ preferences. This study has implications for understanding the logic behind “personal preference” discourse and why it remains socially acceptable even as other systems of domination do not.
... This acknowledgement serves to understand situations that people might experience being LGBTQ. When support is given without recognizing this idiosyncrasy, a central aspect is ignored and thus participates in the perpetuation of oppression (Smith & Shin, 2014). ...
... Ese reconocimiento sirve para comprender las situaciones que pueden atravesar las personas por el hecho de ser LGBTQ. Cuando se da un apoyo sin considerar tal idiosincrasia, se evade un aspecto central y por ende se participa de la perpetuación de la opresión (Smith & Shin, 2014). ...
ABSTRACT This article provides evidence on the reliability and validity of the Spanish adaptation of the Ally Identity Measure (AIM). This instrument is believed to be useful for psychosocial professionals and educational trainees to analyse the degree of commitment and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) people. The sample of this study comprised 223 heterosexual psychology students who participated by completing the Spanish adaptation of the instrument. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed to study its fit to the factor structure of the original scale (knowledge and skills, openness and support, and awareness of oppression). The internal consistency of the subscales was adequate (.85 – .86). Convergent validity showed significant correlations and predictive levels with different attitudinal and socio-demographic variables. We have concluded that the AIM is an accurate instrument to assess allied attitudes towards the LGBQ community. RESUMEN En el artículo se proporciona evidencia sobre la fiabilidad y validez de la adaptación al español de la Medida de Identificación Aliada (MIA). Este instrumento se considera útil para conocer el grado de compromiso y apoyo con las personas lesbianas, gays, bisexuales y queer (LGBQ) entre profesionales psicosociales y educativos en formación. 223 estudiantes de psicología heterosexuales participaron completando la adaptación al español del instrumento. Se realizó un análisis factorial confirmatorio para estudiar su ajuste a la estructura factorial de la escala original (conocimientos y aptitudes, apertura y apoyo y conciencia de la opresión). La consistencia interna de las subescalas fue adecuada (.81 – .86). La validez convergente mostró correlaciones y niveles predictivos significativos con diferentes variables actitudinales y sociodemográficas. En conclusión, MIA resulta un instrumento preciso para evaluar las actitudes aliadas con lo LGBQ.
... However, the ways in which they translated this commitment into potential concrete, institutional actions for promoting a safe and welcoming school environment for LGBTQ students often undermined these aspirations. We also identified a trend of "difference blindness" (Smith & Shin, 2014), wherein staff employed multiple narrative strategies, sometimes simultaneously, to unintentionally but effectively marginalize LGBTQ students. ...
... To refer to the ways that participants used abstract liberalism, we propose a formulation of difference-blindness: "LGBTQ blindness" (elsewhere called "queer blindfolding" [Smith & Shin, 2014]) to refer to participants' tendency to erase students' sexual and gender identities in the name of equality. The use of LGBTQ blindness, as well as other forms of difference-blindness, by participants represents an attempt to marshal evidence of their commitment to equality but obscures both the necessity of an equity perspective and the possibility that different students have different needs. ...
This research investigates how school professionals, as institutional actors, influence school climates experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Although research links institutional characteristics to outcomes for LGBTQ youth, scholars do not yet fully understand the mechanisms. We address this gap through a mesolevel analysis of staff perspectives on schools' responsibilities to LGBTQ students. Using data from 96 semistructured interviews with high school staff during the 2016-2017 school year, we found that participants used three main cues to assess visibility of the school's LGBTQ population: (a) student self-advocacy; (b) students' enactment of LGBTQ stereotypes; and (c) same-sex relationships. Reliance on these cues led staff to underestimate the LGBTQ population and employ narrative frames to rationalize the status quo: small LGBTQ population did not merit allocating resources; all students were treated equally; LGBTQ-inclusive policies further marginalized LGBTQ students; and student issues were addressed through individualized interventions. Our research shows how staff's biases collide with institutional inertia to influence school climate, one crucial facet of the ecological contexts of LGBTQ youth. We conclude with discussion of implications and recommendations. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... Queer blindfolding. These respondents also expected allies to engage in queer blindfolding (Smith and Shin 2014). Similar to colorblind racism (Bonilla-Silva 2003), queer blindfolding refers to a supposedly well-intentioned process of ignoring a central axis of inequality, queerness in this case. ...
... From our data, we have identified three different types of allyship expectations held by queer people. Those with post-gay expectations desired personalized support that was virtually interchangeable with friendship, and they expected allies to engage in queer blindfolding (Smith and Shin 2014). Respondents with political expectations wanted allies to provide affirming support that saw queerness as different but still deserving of respect and celebration. ...
Past research has examined straight allyship to the queer community from allies’ perspectives, but little is known about how queer people evaluate straight allies. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 20 LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) students from a large, public university in the southeastern United States, we show that respondents formulate their expectations by leaning on their understanding of their own queerness in relation to other privileged and marginalized identities they possess. We find two opposing camps of thought: one that allies should be attuned to the individual needs of queer people in their personal lives, and the other that they should be actively dedicated to supporting the broader queer community. Some respondents expressed sentiments of both camps, showcasing how expectations range with diverse identity constellations. We conclude with discussions of how diverse expectations complicate allyship as a vehicle for social change, and the implications of these results for allies’ roles in queer rights movements.
... Shelton and Delgado-Romero (2011) examined the microaggressions LGBQ individuals experienced in therapy and found seven themes: (1) assumptions that sexual orientation is the cause of all presenting concerns, (2) avoidance and minimization of sexual orientation, (3) attempts to overidentify with LGBQ clients, (4) making stereotypical assumptions, (5) expressions of heteronormative bias, (6) assumption LGBQ people need therapy, and (7) warning about the dangers of LGBQ identity. Other research has echoed (Berke et al., 2016;Kelley, 2015;McCullough et al., 2017) or added to (Smith & Shin, 2014) this list. ...
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Tennessee is one of the first states in the United States to have a law that enables counselors and therapists in private practice to deny services to any client based on the practitioner’s “sincerely held principles.” This so-called ‘conscience clause’ represents a critical moment in professional psychology, in which mental health care providers are on the frontlines of cultural and legal debates about religious freedom. Though the law’s language is ambiguous, it was widely perceived to target sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals. We interviewed 20 SGM people living in Tennessee to understand their experiences with mental health care in the state and their perceptions of the law. Our participants perceive the law as fundamentally discriminatory, though they overwhelmingly conceptualize the conscience clause as legalizing discrimination toward members of all stigmatized groups—not just SGM individuals. They described individual and societal consequences for the law, including an understanding of the conscience clause as harmful above and beyond any individual discrimination event it may engender. We situate these findings amid the research on structural stigma and suggest that counseling psychologists become actively engaged in combatting conscience clauses, which appear to have profound consequences on mental health care engagement, particularly for populations vulnerable to discrimination.
... Intersectionality scholars hold at the center of their articulations the need to dismantle racial colorblindness through the acknowledgment of racism, classism, sexism, ableism, and cissexism, in an effort to stay committed to social justice (Carastathis, 2016;Crenshaw, 1991;Ferber, 2012). Although research on racial color-blindness has predominantly examined interracial interactions, using intersectionality as a framework, the theoretical implications of racial color-blindness can, and should, be expanded to other social identities such as gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, and social class (Collins, 2013;Crenshaw, 1991;Delgado & Stefancic, 2012;Ferber, 2012;Johnson, 2006;Smith & Shin, 2014). It is plausible that individuals who perpetuate racial color-blindness may also avoid conversations around other social privileges as well (Ferber, 2012). ...
Full-text available
An online survey examining racial color-blindness, privilege awareness, and social justice was administered to a sample of 381 college students (Mage = 20.53, SD = 4.35). Using multiple regression, increases in heterosexual and class privilege awareness predicted increases in student interest in social justice while increased levels of racial color-blindness predicted decreases in student interest in social justice. These findings suggest that racial color-blindness may serve as a barrier to engagement in social justice while heterosexual and class privilege awareness may buffer the aforementioned barrier. Professors and university administration should consider ways in which they infuse conversations around diversity, privilege, and racial color-blindness into their curriculum.
... Intersectionality scholars hold at the center of their articulations the need to dismantle racial colorblindness through the acknowledgment of racism, classism, sexism, ableism, and cissexism, in an effort to stay committed to social justice (Carastathis, 2016;Crenshaw, 1991;Ferber, 2012). Although research on racial color-blindness has predominantly examined interracial interactions, using intersectionality as a framework, the theoretical implications of racial color-blindness can, and should, be expanded to other social identities such as gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, and social class (Collins, 2013;Crenshaw, 1991;Delgado & Stefancic, 2012;Ferber, 2012;Johnson, 2006;Smith & Shin, 2014). It is plausible that individuals who perpetuate racial color-blindness may also avoid conversations around other social privileges as well (Ferber, 2012). ...
Full-text available
An online survey examining racial color-blindness, privilege awareness, and social justice was administered to a sample of 381 college students (Mage = 20.53, SD = 4.35). Using multiple regression, increases in heterosexual and class privilege awareness predicted increases in student interest in social justice while increased levels of racial color-blindness predicted decreases in student interest in social justice. These findings suggest that racial color-blindness may serve as a barrier to engagement in social justice while heterosexual and class privilege awareness may buffer the aforementioned barrier. Professors and university administration should consider ways in which they infuse conversations around diversity, privilege, and racial color-blindness into their curriculum.
We examine how people construct what it means to be an ally to marginalized groups. Based on 70 in-depth interviews with college students who identify as allies to one or more marginalized groups, we analyze how they construct allyship in ways that ultimately reproduce patterns of social inequality by (1) assigning responsibility for inequalities to minorities, and (2) suggesting individualized, rather than structural, remedies for combatting unequal systems. We find that the combination of these strategies allows them to claim identities as allies without having to engage in concrete efforts that could challenge systems of oppression. We argue that systematically examining processes through which people construct and perform what it means to be an ally may provide insights into mechanisms whereby inequality is maintained and justified. Such systematic examination may also point to potential avenues for combating social inequalities.
This article explores how tolerance discourse is being taken up by educators in interview data about the roles and responsibilities of LGBTQ allies. Participating teachers used the phrase “all students” as a mechanism to include LGBTQ students in their professional narratives without naming them and their particular needs. I argue that such tolerance-informed language and actions integrate LGBTQ ally intentions into teachers’ professional obligations by calling on their responsibility to support and care for all students, but it does not necessarily invoke responsibility to confront policies and practices that contribute to LGBTQ students’ exclusion.
Debates over same-sex marriage have reached the main stage of contemporary U.S. politics. The purpose of this essay is to identify and examine how sexual ideologies in U.S. LGBT communities inform and influence relationship construction in general and same-sex marriage in particular. To accomplish this, we first discuss the nature of sexual ideologies. Next, we identify current sexual ideologies in LGBT communities and examine some of their fundamental features and their implications for relationship construction with a focus on same-sex marriage. We conclude with a discussion of what is potentially gained and lost by same-sex matrimonial bonds and explore some of the prospects of relationship construction within LGBT communities in the future.