Homosexuality as a Socially Constructed Disability in a Heteronormative Culture

Open Access
Caverno, Katelyn Danielle
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Janet Wynne Lyon, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
  • Susan Merrill Squier, Faculty Reader
  • homosexuality
  • disability
  • queer theory
What is “normal?” It’s a question that does not, at least consciously, cross the minds of most people, yet it undoubtedly governs society. While homosexuality has been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a disability, it continues to be viewed as an undesirable trait, something that is arguably detrimental to the individuals who ascribe to that label. Society at large has a profound impact on the “normality” of an individual’s life. I argue that homosexuality is not detrimental to an individual in any way, but that white, able-bodied, “normal” members of society manage to subjugate the homosexual identity, therefore disabling homosexuals from attaining equality. I examined several films: Milk, Boys Don’t Cry, Philadelphia, and The Crying Game, in an effort to draw comparisons between disability studies and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered (LGBT) rights movement and examine the representations of queerness and gayness in dramatized versions of “real life.