This exercise can either be done in one group, or in pairs or smaller groups. You can either use the full loaded questions handout, or you can write the questions on individual cards. If you work in small groups, you need a set of individual cards for each group.
Introduce the exercise by explaining that most of us have assumptions about what is considered “normal”. This can relate to gender identity or sexuality, but also to many other issues. For example, in our society being “straight” (heterosexual) is still assumed to be the norm (heteronormatism). Heteronormatism and homophobia are related, but not the same, as homophobia is more or less open hostility towards lgtbq people, while heteronormatism might even occur in people who consider themselves as tolerant or accepting of lgbtq identified people.
Distribute either the handout or the cards. If working in a large group, hand one card to each person. If there are more individual cards than persons, some will get two cards. If working in pairs, hand a full set of cards to each pair. In small groups each group needs a full set of cards. Members of the small groups should distribute the cards among each others evenly.
Either in the large group, or in the small groups/pairs ask to do a go-round, with each person taking one card/question, and reading out the question aloud. This might generate laughter – especially after some time. There should be enough time between question for the question to set in/the laughter to die down.
After all questions have been read, get back into the large group for a debrief. Ask people how they felt? Did they feel offended by the questions? What do they think how lgbtiq identified people feel when they get asked these questions? What are the assumptions behind these questions about what is considered “normal”?
At the end, you can bring the discussion to the question of privileges those considered “normal” (in this case: straight) still have in our society. The list of “30 straight priviliges in the USA” at http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/01/29-examples-of-heterosexual-privilege/ can be a good start.
Heterosexual questionnaire (Loaded questions)
Non-heterosexual people are often asked questions which are based on an underlying assumptions that they are sick, immoral, evil, or just “not normal”. The questions below turn these questions on heterosexuals. This can help to expose to absurdity and offensiveness of the questions, which are often asked of lgtbq identified people.
1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
2. When and how did you first decide you were heterosexual?
3. Did you ever consider that your heterosexuality could just be a phase you may grow out of?
4. Could it be possible that your heterosexuality is the result of a neurotic fear of people of the same sex?
5. If you have never had sex with a person of the same sex, could it be that all you need is a good experience of sex with a person of the same sex?
6. To whom did you disclose your heterosexual tendencies? How did they react?
7. Who do you heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into your lifestyle?
8. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can't you just be what you are and keep it quiet?
9. Would you want your children to be heterosexual, knowing the problems they would face?
10. A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexuals. Do you consider it safe to expose your children to heterosexual instructors/teachers/etc?
11. In spite of all the support for marriage in our society, divorce rates are rising. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
12. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
13. Considering the menace of overpopulation, how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual like you?
14. Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective? Don't you think he or she might be inclined to influence you in the direction of her or his own sexual orientation?
15. How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive, exclusive heterosexuality and fail to develop your natural, healthy homosexual potential?
16. Suicide rates are much higher among heterosexuals than among homosexuals. Don't you think this has something to do with them being unstable and depressed because of their heterosexuality?
17. There seem to be 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?
Adapted from: Chuck Stewart: Sexually Stigmatized Communities. Sage Publications, Inc., 1999