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.