The ‘imaginary’ here does not mean ‘false’ or ‘pretend’ but, rather, an imagined relationship between the individual and the world. The heterosexual imaginary is that way of thinking that conceals the operation of heterosexuality in structuring gender (across race, class, and sexuality) and closes off any critical analysis of heterosexuality as an organizing institution… It is a belief system that relies on the romantic and sacred notions of heterosexuality in order to create and maintain an illusion of well-being. At the same time this romantic view prevents us from seeing how institutionalized heterosexuality actually works to organize gender while preserving racial, class, and sexual hierarchies as well.

(Chrys Ingraham, White Weddings: Romancing Heterosexuality in Popular Culture, 16)

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