Heteronormativity as a Colonial Construct

Lesson 1

This lesson focuses on the LGBTQ+ community and how diverse gender identities and sexual orientations have existed in many cultures before colonization. The gender binary that we have today (man or woman) comes from Christianity that was spread by colonization. Unfortunately, today many LGBTQ+ folks have suffer violence and discrimination because of how widespread heteronormativity has become. 


“Race and the Invention of Homosexuality” from Queering the Color Line by Siobhan B. Somerville





This interactive map allows you to explore different genders and sexual orientations that have existed across the globe. This map illustrates how universal diverse gender identities are, and how long they have existed. Click on any of the blue dots to learn more.


Watch from 32:14-39:26


Discussion Questions

  1. Did you know there were so many places that had third genders? Did it surprise you that many of the people who identified with a third gender were often raised by their families as (what we would call today) trans or non binary?
  2. When you look at the United States on the interactive map there are a few blue dots. What do you think happened to Native Americans who identified as Winkte, Nadleehi, Dilbaa or Two-Spirit during colonization?
  3. How is biological sex different from gender identity? How does heteronormativity affect people who are intersex?
  4. How is heteronormativity encoded in our culture? What examples can you think of?
  5. How are Queer issues intersectional?
  6. How are struggles against heteronormativity and Queerphobia ongoing?