The term "heterosexism" is an alternative to "homophobia" and was created to point out similarities to other -isms such as sexism or racism (Logie et al., 2007). Heteronormativity is described as "the myriad ways in which heterosexuality is produced as a natural, unproblematic, taken-for-granted phenomenon" which leads to the idea of heterosexuality as the norm and, consequently, other types as abnormal (Habarth, 2008). It refers to the privileges that are associated with the groups representing "the norm" and the oppression of those that are "the other" (Logie et al., 2007). Heteronormative social pressure (Habarth, 2008), stigma, bias, discrimination and devaluation can affect the social, mental and physical well-being of queer populations. In fact, a greater prevalence of psychological problems and disorders are found among them ranging from depression and anxiety to substance abuse (Logie et al., 2007).
One thought-provoking tool to raise awareness for the many situations those representing the other get into and questions and explanations they are confronted with is the "Heterosexism Questionnaire" which can be downloaded here.
Habarth, J. M. (2008) Thinking "Straight": Heteronormativity and Associated Outcomes across Sexual Orientation. Michigan: Dissertation (via)
Logie, C., Bridge, T. J. & Bridge, P. D. (2007) Evaluationg the Phobias, Attitudes, and Cultural Competence of Master of Social Work Students Toward the LGBT Populations. Journal of Homosexuality, 53(4), 201-221
McGeorge, C. & Stone Carlson, T. (2009) Deconstructing heterosexism: Becoming an LGBT affirmative heterosexual couple and family therapist. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 1-13, doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2009.00149.x
Photos from the early days of the the gay rights movement (Life) 1971, via