Straight talking?BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39227.704352.59 (Published 31 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1167
- Jeanelle de Gruchy, consultant in public health medicine, Nottingham City PCT
There's an in-joke that goes: “Which is it better to be, black or gay?” with the answer “black, as you don't have to tell your mother.” For those who are gay, the invisibility of their sexuality and the need to take a position on whether you're in—or out—of the closet is a constant. Conversely, being heterosexual is also invisible. As Julie Fish eloquently writes, heterosexuality “rarely has to attest to its existence . . . while homosexuality is silenced, heterosexuality is silent.” And it this routine presumption of heterosexuality and its oppressive privileging over an “inferior” homosexuality that she terms heterosexism.
Fish, a research fellow at De Montfort University, focuses on health and social care to show how heterosexism distorts the care that users from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community receive. Take, for instance, the account of one woman's attendance for a cervical smear: “I was asked when I last had sex—I said my last experience of penetrative sex with a man was nine years ago—she said never …