Tag Archives: international day against homophobia

Homophobia Comes in Many Forms

SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 29:  A reveler holds a ga...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, an annual day sponsored by Fondation ?mergence to raise awareness of and combat the ugly phenomenon known as homophobia.  This is an important thing, as homophobia is something that adversely affects millions of LGBT people, not to mention those who choose to embrace homophobia.  (I hope to talk about that last bit in a later post.)

This is also an important issue because while some manifestations of homophobia are easy to spot, some are far more subtle, easily rationalized, and therefore more insidious in some ways.  It’s easy to spot and speak out against thugs who go around beating up gay people.  It’s pretty easy to spot and stop the school bully who calls smaller boys “queer” and otherwises taunts them.  It’s much harder to spot and address the more decent, mild mannered person who still manages to be homophobic in subtler ways, the person who might not even be aware that what they’re doing is homophobic.

Some will complain — and quite loudly — that believing that same sex sexual relationships are wrong or immoral is not homophobic.  Most days, I’m inclined to agree with them.  I think that such a belief is wrong and wrong-headed.  But I don’t think taht such a belief in itself homophobic.

However, beliefs don’t exist in a vacuum, and one of the biggest problems with such a belief is that it usually leads to actions that are homophobic.  So while keeping in mind that believing that same-sex sexual relationships are wrong is not homophobic, I’d like to point out some of the subsequent homophobic pitfalls that someone who holds such beliefs might fall into.

Refusing to befriend, get to know, and actually listen to gay people simply because they are gay is homophobic.  If concern for maintaining the purity of your beliefs gets in the way of being a friendly and personable individual, that’s something you will need to address.

Having “gay friends,” but quickly changing the subject whenever they start discussing their love life or romantic interests is homophobic.  Real friends don’t get to pick and choose what aspects of their friends lives they’re open to.  They don’t even ask for such a privilege.

Making assumptions about what gay people are like, what they value in their relationships, and what their sex lives are like (and if you’re spending that much time thinking about that last one, ew!) is homophobic.  Gay people are people too, and we can be very diverse.  Making assumptions based solely on who we are attracted too is wrong on a number of levels, including the homophobic level.

There are many other such examples.  In short, any way in which someone treats or thinks of an LGBT person differently from other people — often in ways that are dehumanizing — is homophobic.

The good news is that people can do something about homophobia.  We just need to work on making people aware of its existence and the need to change the way things are.

Homophobia: I’m not the enemy

Today, Pam reminded her readers that today is International Day Against Homophobia. Thanks to this reminder, I felt it important that I not let such a day pass by without some sort of comment.

Homophobia is one of those unfortunate things that all of us wish would go away. It’s a shame that in 2007, people still have to worry about whether they could lose their job if their boss finds out they’re gay. It’s terrible that same sex couples still have to worry about their legal status and the protections offered to their relationship, things that heterosexual couples take for granted every day. It’s wearying to think that we have to listen to paranoid people attempt to raise animosity towards us by making alarming references to the dreaded “homosexual agenda” and “special priveleges.” It’s annoying to listen to these same people make accusations about “recruiting attempts” (which I’m convinced is little more than projection on their part).

I think the one thing that makes all of this more bearable for me is the realization that homophobia is not about me or other gay people at all. Homophobia is actually merely a manifestation of a greater problem: Some people’s need to have something to fear and attack as “the enemy.” If people didn’t have gay people to blame for the ills of society, they’d merely have to look for something else. They’d have to find some new danger to rally against, because it’s that perceived danger and fear of it that such people need to galvanize their will and draw their strength from. Without it, I suspect most of them would be lost.

I am not the homophobes’ enemy. I’m merely the screen they have chosen to project their own inner demons upon. Their real enemy lives within themselves. And as I keep that in mind, it enables me to deal with the issue of homophobia from a completely different mindset. It enables me to fight the consequences of homophobia — such as legislative discrimination — while understanding that the underlying issue isn’t about me — or even homosexuality — at all. And for me, that realization is liberating.