Search Engine Questions: Homophobia

One of the search phrases that landed a hit on my blog today today:

if someone is homophobic are they gay?

It’s possible, but not absolutely.  Unfortunately, this is an all too common assumption that some people like to make about homophobic people.  (It’s even made it’s way into at least one film.)  It’s one that needs and deserves to be addressed.

You know, I get why it’s a commonly promoted hypothesis.  It’s very compelling, especially to those of us who are gay.  There’s a certain comfort in the idea that our most virulent attackers are secretly one of us.  It’s half sympathy and half schadenfreude.  Plus, some very notable homophobes (see Larry Craig and Ted Haggard for two examples) have been outed for the very activities they’ve condemned.  It’s quite compelling (though cannot be proven) to assume that their anti-gay activities are motivated by self-loathing and a sense of guilt.

But just like it’s bad for ex-gays and anti-gays to universalize certain (often ex-)gay people’s experiences, I think it’s wrong to universalize the fact that some people who are homophobic turn out to have a “gay secret” to all people who express homophobic views or hurt LGBT people.

I also think it ultimately doesn’t help anyone or anything to make that assumption.  There are plenty of motivating factors to homophobia.  Some people may be homophobic simply because the idea of same-sex relationships challenges their gender essentialist and patriarchal beliefs, just to give one example.  Putting everything down to “oh, they just must be secretly gay” detracts from exposing and addressing real issues and arguments.

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