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Why we are accepting the cutest heteros – and why you should too

About a month ago, we here at the L Stop launched a “cutest couple” contest in the spirit of that favorite Hallmark holiday of Cupid, candies and romance. Though the prize is nothing too extravagant – a couple of Bulls tickets and some swag- we had a national response, accumulating tons of photos from those couples eager to share their love (and cuteness) to the rest of the facebook universe. While we were surprised with the huge turnout, we were even more surprised to have several hetero- (or otherwise non traditional lesbian couples) submit their pictures to the contest. (Side note- who woulda thought the words traditional and lesbian would be together- I like it).

ANYWAYS, as the deadline came and went, our little conundrum was revealed to the staff for input: to let the non lesbian couples participate or not? I think all of us had a little bit of conflict in our heart. Should we do what is fair and let everyone and anyone participate – or – do we let the contest hold tightly to the sentiment of only allowing the queer women’s community (that we work so hard to represent every day) enter the contest. One of the ideas behind this contest was to have something for US, the ladies, where no one stuck out as something controversial or untraditional because we have each other. I mean, not all of us can or want to flaunt our love/PDA/what it may – n everyday life when we are surrounded by those who may not accept or understand. In fact, one of my friends expressed that she had constantly had to be competing against straight people, and this was something that finally evened out the playing field.

I get it. We all get it. I mean, to be honest we have no idea how all of these people found out about our contest… As AMAZING as our website is, it does tend to cater to the queer women of Chicago and those around the world. We know these things- technology is amazing that way. However, what gives us the audacity not to accept the hetero/non queer couple who took the time to send in a picture?

While all of these nominations were rolling in, news broke nationally of St. Joseph University in Philadelphia had been hosting a similar contest for their Alumni Association. However, the controversy here was that a lesbian couple was originally denied participation. Well, of course controversy ensued and after a guerilla facebook campaign, enough support was rallied to get them acknowledged, because they too had a love story that they wanted to share with their fellow graduates.

Needless to say after following this story, my response to the team was simple: of course we allow everyone to participate. Why would we be the ones to protest and simply turn it around on others who want to be supportive and even see themselves as being just as cute as we are? To be honest, I think it is great that people from outside of our community are paying attention. It is not just our community that needs to listen and learn about each other, but also our allies and those who are unaware simply because of exposure or lack thereof. One thing we need to remember – just as much as the importance of unity among ourselves, is the importance of unity amongst us with our allies. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be half as far as where we are today.

So with that, ladies AND gentlemen, take a look for yourselves and let us know who you think the cutest L Stop couple of the year is.

Did You Vote Yet?

Here’s a link to our Cutest Couple Contest album on Facebook. Just “Like” a couple to vote, and you can like more than one.

Cutest Couple Contest

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About Lauren

Lauren was born and raised in South Minneapolis and like many other innocent midwesterners got sucked into the black hole of Chicago politics 4 years ago. As the LGBT Coordinator for the Gery Chico for Mayor Campaign she attempted to take on the entire city and hasn’t looked back since. Now working for a communications firm, she spends her extra time running around with cases of PBR playing in different sports leagues, hosting couchsurfers from all over the place, and deciding how she is going to change the world. A simple lady at her core, she has decided that the first person to send her an edible arrangement must be the one.

Discussion

30 Responses to “Why we are accepting the cutest heteros – and why you should too”

  1. when i saw the pictures online this morning, i was slightly surprised but also pleased at the inclusion of lots of different couples. i would say as well that – given the invisibility of bisexuality – you never know who might be bisexual in a couple that is otherwise labeled “lesbian” or “heterosexual”.

    Posted by j. | February 8, 2012, 12:34 pm
  2. well said my friend….

    Posted by K Guzman | February 8, 2012, 12:36 pm
  3. And queer women can be in relationships with men. That doesn’t make them heterosexual.

    Posted by Stuff Queer People Need To Know | February 8, 2012, 12:40 pm
  4. Hey friend, I get your point. Very well said, as always. I get it. I think it’s great that others want to be included and from a business stand point, you have stand on neutral grounds. However, I personally don’t see it as a negative to have a Lesbian cutest couple contest only to highlight what L stop truly represents and its mission. A contest is special and even though it may sound silly to others, our community really needs it and how adorable would it be to have lesbian couples as winners to truly represent what L stop is about? I know that I am preaching to the choir. Just wanted to throw out my .02 Anyway, Love you L Stop and Kat Guzman.

    Posted by Patricia Robles | February 8, 2012, 1:46 pm
  5. I am wondering if some of the couples knew that The L Stop was a website for the Queer community (I think it is pretty obvious – but who knows) …it seems like some might not have even realized it to be honest.

    Posted by Leigh | February 8, 2012, 2:13 pm
  6. I knew there had to be some controversy regarding letting striaght couples join the contest. I am sure of it because I saw someone ask that question (can straight couples join the contest) before the entries were due…and when I first read it I was like NO! :)sorry but I was… I mean we finally have a voice and a place to be ourselves and we are proud of that! Just like you said…another organization wouldnt let a lesbian couple in thier contest so why should we. However, we need to keep in perspective that not everyone has that shallow mentality and as I am sure we would all agree lesbians and lesbian relationships are more accepted now than ever. Therefore ultimately, I am glad that we decided not to stoop to a level that could potentially take us backwards in time… Equality for all! <3

    Posted by Karen Clark | February 8, 2012, 2:32 pm
  7. @Patricia:Honestly, we have no idea why we have so many straight couples that entered our contest, but denying anyone entry into our contest just doesn’t feel right.

    They are two people in love and wanting to show it off to the rest of the world (or the Chicago LBTQ community, in this case). That’s what all these people have in common and it’s a beautiful thing. But, we will never stray from our focus to serve the lesbian community first. That is and will always be, The L Stop’s purpose!

    Posted by Vivian | February 8, 2012, 2:36 pm
  8. Also, another great point that keeps coming up over and over again. Had one of these “straight-seeming” couples identified as queer, bi, or trans, us denying them would be equally as terrible. Not only because we are denying someone from our LGBTQ umbrella, but because we are judging them by appearance. We just can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

    Posted by Vivian | February 8, 2012, 2:48 pm
  9. Well said L Stop! You guys have a good point. Now, what the contestants have to do is just work hard to get the people’s votes (and be cute) lol. Thank you for this contest. We get to see the cutest, lovely couples! My friends, thanks for supporting us. Peace!

    Posted by IVANE | February 8, 2012, 5:26 pm
  10. #1)People love three things, people love winning, being thought of as the “-est” of anything…and apparently Bulls tickets!!!! The winners should ride on our float.

    #2) We should have a float

    Posted by Meg | February 8, 2012, 5:39 pm
  11. @Meg….<3 you….Love the LStop making waves and holding ground and representing this amazing community of queer women in such an intergral way….

    Posted by K Guzman | February 9, 2012, 10:38 am
  12. Allowing hetero couples into the competition is a slap in the face to the close-knit lesbian community that helped get the L-Stop get to where it is now. This quid pro quo stance only works for right-wingers. Wake up and smell reality, just because we may be tolerant and inclusive regarding hetero-social norms doesn’t mean one hand washes the other. People tend to say one thing and punch another in the privacy of their ballot boxes. Stand up for something, because obviously, you’ll fall for anything.

    Posted by L. Rosselli | February 10, 2012, 8:03 pm
  13. Rosselli – maybe one hand just might wash the other – why are you so sure it doesn’t? Cynicism has no place in the journey – or perhaps as you may see it – the battle towards human rights. I cannot speak for anyone but myself when I say – I hold a solid ground in my belief that to find equality, to find peace, to find acceptance in every aspect of my life and the choices that I make in this world – I would rather be motivated by compassion and wisdom than anything else. This is not about me as an individual or some immediate perception the world may have of my lifestyle – it is about how I choose to live my life today and every day to make the world a more tolerant and peaceful place – until I no longer live and breathe in this world.

    My friend the Dalai Lama said,”When we are able to recognize and forgive ignorant actions of the past, we gain strength to constructively solve the problems of the present”. We must look outside of ourselves if we are ever to see the bigger truth and make this world better.

    Now – let’s go get a drink – my treat……

    Posted by Kathy | February 11, 2012, 7:19 am
  14. Kath, that is a load of puffy white cumulus cloud world peace rhetoric. This was a moment, among very few, that should have been “ours.” Possibly, by not naming it appropriately like “Cutest Lesbian Couple Contest” L-Stop has opened the door for anything. Now all this discussion is simply to save face.

    Posted by L. Rosselli | February 11, 2012, 8:07 am
  15. @L. ROSSELLI, “A slap to the face of the tight knit lesbian community that helped the L-stop get where it is now.” Because surely not a single hetero was one of the first dedicated readers of this site. It’s not even possible that hetero male was out telling everybody he knew to read this site and share it with their friends. It must have been the tight knit lesbian community that was the only reason for this website succeeding in the first place, right? Wrong. It doesn’t matter if you’re hetero, gay, lesbian, or queer, this site is a tight knit community of people who care (not a tight knit community of lesbians).

    You say that we are, “tolerant and inclusive regarding hetero-social norms”, at the same time you are attempting to have the website turn against that and stop its tolerance and its inclusive nature. If you claim that the, “quid pro quo stance only works for right-wingers”, what do you expect the LGBTQ community to do in their search for equality an attempts to share their message with a larger section of the world. Would you propose taking whatever you can get without giving anything back? Give and take is part of the world. In order to gain acceptance you must give acceptance, it’s a fundamental rule of societies that goes back as far as do the societies themselves.

    If neither hand at least tries to wash the other then both hands stay dirty and the owner gets sick and dies. Even if one hand tries just slightly harder than the other it should have no problem washing them both and then we start to make some progress.

    People do tend to stand for one thing and vote for another, after all there is a reason that Barrack Obama and Rahm Emanuel both got elected in the last four years. What we need to realize is we can’t control what happens in a ballot box and we can’t control what happens behind the closed doors of other people. However, we can control our effect on the world, and we can ensure that effect is easy for the rest of the world to interpret and understand. Having a contest that included all women could have easily been offensive to members on this site who are not women and didn’t feel included or respected. Including everybody in the contest pretty clearly painted the picture of what this site stands for.

    “puffy white cumulus cloud world peace rhetoric”, yeah, we’ve been hearing it for years. There is always fluffy cloud rhetoric, have you ever noticed that it starts to take hold after a while and then it becomes reality. I have a dream, so do other people, some of us are willing to keep hoping, working, and striding towards the better. And please, unless you’re willing to get a big gun and start a revolution then don’t act like anything else is going to work.

    It doesn’t matter who is seeking the equality, someone is always shouting, “lets do it peacefully!” Someone else is always shouting, “revolution, off with their heads!” I have never understood people who expect to receive something they are not offering to those around them. In this instance, I would never be able to understand a website that is promoting the equality and pride of the lesbian community, making a decision to exclude the majority of the world from participating in their contests.

    It is too bad that in order to seek equality you must offer it as well. However, when you look at the history of societies, the subjugated don’t find their freedom and escape their oppression through excluding their oppressors; they do it by working together. Considering the number of hetero people who have distinct desire to help the LGBTQ community, excluding them from participation in these events would be utterly foolish and potentially harmful to hetero allied support of the LGBTQ community.

    Oh, “Ours” vs. “Theirs”, that ice is way too thin to be stomping on like that. There is no longer and us and a them when you are referring to sexuality or gender, you’re still trapped in the past and you’re thinking like a confused republican from Texas… “Us” and “Them” is the wrong part of the battle, “Us” and “Equality, pride, and politics” is the right side of the battle.

    Posted by Happy Duck | February 11, 2012, 11:20 am
  16. No one else will say it so I’ll say it: You are being trolled. (Immature) people are voting for the straight couple because it is hilarious and MOCKING the lgbt community if a straight couple to win a lesbian site’s couple’s contest. Someone probably posted this contest on 4chan and the trolls went at it.

    Posted by Spiral | February 11, 2012, 2:07 pm
  17. I don’t dislike heteros…some of our biggest supporters are straight or bi for that matter…I hate cheaters…and bots…and those who are afraid to lead by example…

    Posted by Meg | February 12, 2012, 3:24 pm
  18. Congrats to the hetero couple for winning the cutest couple contest on the lesbian website with the awesome “friends” that commented about all us “lesbos” in the contest! Thanks for representing the lgbtq community and doing us proud!

    Posted by Lesbo | February 13, 2012, 1:06 am
  19. @Lesbo, thanks alone to the hetero couple who won 1,400+ new people understand the wonderful nature of thelstop.org, and the people who run this website. Ignorant comments are made all the time, it doesn’t always make the person who said it a bad person. The LGBTQ community was done a huge service with this contest, we were able to share our love for beauty and equality with a large group of people of varying types. Sharing equality through the beauty of human relationships, is there a better end to a contest?

    Posted by Happy Duck | February 13, 2012, 2:28 am
  20. I think it may be a stretch to say that the 1,400 people who “liked” that photo now understand the wonderful nature of thelstop.org.

    Posted by Sara | February 13, 2012, 10:34 am
  21. The majority of those 1,400 people now understand that the thelstop.org is a lesbian run website that truly understands the meaning of equality. Small steps forward are the only kind we can logically make, and they are the only kind that matter.

    I was trying to point out the fact that the nature of this contest has spread the feeling of equality to a larger group through the inclusion of hetero couples. It’s fine though, I’ve said my piece. I’m through arguing with people who think that being as ignorant as the other side is the way to win respect. It’s true, intelligence and hard work are much more difficult than anger… too bad anger doesn’t help anyone.

    I think the operators of this website have done a terrific job with this contest and I’m disappointed by the number of people who weren’t supportive of the structure or the operators.

    Posted by Happy Duck | February 13, 2012, 11:52 am
  22. Anyone who doesn’t think that heteros should have been allowed in the competition should also understand %100 why they are discriminated against for their own sexuality.

    Posted by Happy Duck | February 13, 2012, 11:57 am
  23. Heterosexuality is revered, applauded, celebrated, and pretty much omnipresent every single day of our gay lives. We come to places like this website to enjoy the presence of people who share our sexual preferences, and to feel, even if for one minute, we’re not the minority, not strange, not the odd one out.

    The winning heteros were in no danger of feeling these things had they been bounced out of the running, why? Because they have the rest of the big, wide mainstream world to shop their happy couple photo to. They probably have parents who adore that photo, who probably look at it and can’t WAIT for them to get married with no legal barriers. Who probably picture the babies they can produce or adopt with no one else batting an eyelash or questioning their fitness to parent.

    A lot of us can’t say the same.

    And we’re the people you’re supposed to be making more visible, L Stop.

    It doesn’t have to be done with hatred or animosity. There’s nothing wrong with simple parameters on simple contest directed a little ol’ minority community like us. That’s all you needed to do.

    So, queers, fall in line, and salute the L Stop’s cutest hetero couple! Equality rules!

    Posted by Kim E. | February 13, 2012, 1:02 pm
  24. I can respect the L Stop not wanting to play gender police (slippery slope). I’m still conflicted about that but I can see how reaosnable people would disagree with each other on this. That said, it is really disappointing that a hetero couple won. And I do think “trolling” may have been a factor here, to some degree.

    Posted by Kirstin | February 13, 2012, 1:03 pm
  25. I have to disagree that the 1,400 plus people that liked their photo took the time to do anything than just that — like the photo. Did they know it was a contest from The L Stop website? Did they click to the entire album, the facebook page, the website? Doubtful. Did they do anything but respond to posts on blogs or their friends page to “like” this photo for their friends? That is what I think. So to make the generalization that they know anything more about The L Stop or equality is very far reaching. That said, I do not think that people who are “disagreeing” are ignorant. They are just different opinions. It is hard to call anyone ignorant based on a blog comment. It is just called stating your opinion. Just because we disagree does not mean we are “angry” or not supportive of The L Stop. Equality is made up of different people with different opinions. I don’t think that people should not speak their opinions just because they are different than mine.

    Posted by Mary | February 13, 2012, 1:37 pm
  26. Hard lessons are hard to learn – no matter how old I get – so many view points and personal journies dictate how we interpret situations and experiences. We want to stand up for the good and beat down the bad – we want to scream the truth that will be true for everyone – if only there was such a thing.

    I can only speak for myself – but I do believe that we at the LStop are intigrated and invested in the lesbian community and beyond – our eyes are wide open – our hearts even more so.

    This has been the sort of debate and lively conversation my Irish grandmother would have thrived on down at the local pub over a few pints and a smoke. There would be arms flying and blood pressure rising – words screamed over words screamed and very little room for compromise. And yet, at the end of the day – when voices had softened and points were taken and considered – she and her neighbors would file out onto the cobble stone streets and walk each other home in contemplative silence. Saying good night with a respectful nod – knowing that tomorrow would bring more of the same….

    Debate is good. Taking it all in and evolving from it – is necessary if we ever hope to get to the other side. And when I get to the other side – I most certainly hope to get there with a lively bunch of opinionated chicks who make me work for my right to be so damn right all the time.

    Peace.

    Posted by K Guzman | February 13, 2012, 3:02 pm
  27. Another thing I find interesting since the talk is of equality and inclusion – no matter gender or sexuality – why do certain meetup groups like Sapphic Adventures state “Men and heterosexual women are not eligible for membership”. Why is it appropriate to exclude these individuals from those groups – but it is not ok to exclude them in a cutest couple contest on a Lesbian website?

    Also, I think to People Magazine having “Sexiest Men” lists – and women aren’t allowed on those or vice versa. As well as Ebony Magazine – they put out a list every year of the hottest African American couples – and they do not select white couple because it is a culture magazine for the African American community – and people don’t say “oh, that is reverse discrimination”. Just another perspective to think about when talking about including all and equality.

    Posted by Jen | February 13, 2012, 6:15 pm
  28. While I entirely respect The L Stop’s right to run their contest any way they see fit, and respect the desire to be inclusive, I see several flaws in the logic behind this decision.

    First of all, the comparison to the St. Joseph’s issue is flawed. Creating exclusive spaces for marginalized populations is different from excluding marginalized populations from purportedly inclusive spaces. As a white woman, if Ebony Magazine were to run a Cutest Couple contest, I would not submit a photo of myself and a white partner, even if they did not overtly state that only Black-American couples were invited to participate. To enter would be to indicate that I either (a) was totally ignorant of the magazine’s focus and intent and did not care to bother to educate myself, (b) knew but did not care what the magazine’s intent was, or (c) wanted to flaunt the implied rules of the contest to make some sort of (in this case, racist,) point.

    Second, someone mentioned that just because a seemingly cis male and seemingly cis female are in the photo does not mean they are “straight.” This is true, and could easily have been resolved by a simple inquiry by the editors asking the contributors whether they identify anywhere on the GLBTQ spectrum, and indicating that the parameters of the contest are such that it is intended to provide space specifically for people within that spectrum to participate in a contest amongst themselves. That is, if they wanted to impose such parameters.

    While I agree that we need to build support and engage our allies, I disagree that the best or only way to do this is by opening the doors wide to every place we have to call our own. Every true ally I know would NEVER enter a photo of themselves into a contest clearly meant for lesbian couples.

    I would love to hear the logic behind a straight couple entering this contest that is NOT based in either malice or ignorance. What could it possibly be?

    I do hope that the couple with the most votes – and indeed, all the seemingly hetero couples who entered – are either current allies or become them. I hope they consider not getting married until all couples can, that they donate to PFLAG or HRC or Howard Brown, that they “get it” on some level they might not have before entering.

    My fear is that by simply saying yes to these couples, a teachable moment was actually missed. The L Stop had the opportunity to respond privately and publicly, without anger or malice, to clarify that until the day comes that we are all treated equally under the law and by the society in which we live, we will need spaces that are our own. And that even then, so long as there are historical scars for our having been marginalized and excluded, we will need spaces that are our own.

    The L Stop had a chance to explain this, and to be one of those places. Is this Cutest Couple contest of earth-shattering importance? No. Would the world instantly be different if this teachable moment had been claimed? No. Does The L Stop have the right to run their contest any way they choose, and to serve a broader population than I myself might choose? Absolutely.

    I would say it’s a shame to have missed this opportunity for education, but instead I will say that it’s good to know where the media who purport to represent our community will draw their lines.

    Posted by Marty McConnell | February 14, 2012, 2:15 pm
  29. I want to know how the couple won. It seems very odd to me. I do not believe in exclusion, but it seems hard to believe that the lesbian community voted them the winning couple. We are getting over shadowed by the straight community once again. Why don’t you really make it fair and have a straight couple, lesbain couple catagory. This straight couple is always allowed to display their love with out judgement, we are not always allowed to do so. It doesn’t seem fair….once again

    Posted by Jen | July 31, 2012, 12:04 pm

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  1. [...] that Chicago lesbian scene.  This year they held a Valentine’s Day Cutest Couples contest.  And they allowed straight entries.  And I thought that was really cool of [...]

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