MANY LEVELS OF HOMOPHOBIA
Homophobia is an intense, irrational fear of same-sex relationships. Below are four levels of homophobic attitudes, conceived by Dr. Dorothy Riddle, a psychologist from Tucson, Arizona:
In this most extreme expression of homophobia, homosexuality is seen as a crime against nature. Gays are seen as sick, crazy, immoral, sinful, wicked, etc. Anything is justified in order to change them, including prison, hospitalization, negative behavior therapy, including electric shock.
Pity is better than revulsion, but is heterosexual chauvinism. In this type of homophobia, the assumption is that heterosexuality is more mature and certainly to be preferred. Any possibility of becoming straight should be reinforced, and those who seem to have been born "that way" should be pitied, the poor things.
In this view, homosexuality is just a phase of adolescent development that many people go through and most people grow out of. Thus gays are less mature than straights and should be treated with the protectiveness and indulgence one uses with a child. Gays and lesbians, in this view, should not be given positions of authority because they are still working through adolescent behaviors.
Acceptance, while the most positive form of homophobia, still implies that there is something to accept, characterized by such statements as, "You're not gay to me, you're a person." "What you do in bed is your own business." "That's fine as long as you don't flaunt it."
This level denies social and legal realities. Acceptance ignores the pain of invisibility and the stress of closet behavior. "Flaunt" usually means saying or doing anything that makes people aware of your homosexuality.
Homophobia: How We All Pay The Price
by Warren J. Blumenfeld
Within numerous forms of oppression, members of the target group (sometimes called "minority") are oppressed, while on some level members of the dominant group are hurt. Although the effects of oppression differ qualitatively for specific target and dominant groups, in the end everyone loses.
Homophobia locks all people into rigid gender based roles that inhibit
creativity and self-expression.
Homophobic conditioning compromises the integrity of heterosexual people by pressuring them to treat others badly, actions contrary to
their basic humanity.
Homophobia inhibits one's ability to form close, intimate relationships with members of one's own sex.
Homophobia generally restricts communication with a significant portion of the population and, more specifically, limits family relationships.
Societal homophobia prevents some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from developing and authentic self identity, and
adds to the pressure to marry, which in turn places undue stress and often times trauma on themselves as well as their heterosexual spouses and their children.
Homophobia is one cause of premature sexual involvement, which increases the chances of teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually
transmitted disease (STDs). Young people, of all sexual identities, and often pressured to become heterosexually active to prove to themselves and others that they are normal.
Homophobia combined with sexphobia (fear and repulsion of sex) results in the elimination of any discussion of the life-styles and sexuality of sexual minorities as part of school-based sex education, keeping vital information from all students. Such a lack of information can kill people in the age of AIDS.
Homophobia can be used to stigmatize, silence, and, on occasion, target people who are perceived or defined by others as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, but who are in actuality heterosexual.
Homophobia prevents heterosexuals from accepting the benefits and
gifts offered by sexual minorities: theoretical insights, social and spiritual visions and options, contributions in the arts and culture, to religion, to family life, indeed to all facets of society.
Homophobia (along with racism, sexism, classism, sexphobia, etc.) inhibits a unified and effective governmental and societal response to AIDS.
Homophobia diverts energy from more constructive endeavors.
Homophobia inhibits appreciation of other types of diversity, making
it unsafe for everyone because each person has unique traits not considered mainstream or dominant. Therefore, we are all diminished
when any one of use is demeaned.
Examples of Homophobia
IT SHOWS ITSELF IN MANY WAYS
Thinking you can "spot one"
Expecting gay or lesbian people to change their public identity or affectional habits or mode of dress
Changing your seat in a meeting because a lesbian or gay man sat in
the chair next to yours
Kissing an old friend but being afraid to shake hands with a lesbian or gay
Failing to be supportive when a gay or lesbian friend is sad about a quarrel or breakup of a relationship
Worrying about the effect a gay or lesbian volunteer or co-worker will have on your programs
Not asking about a woman's female lover or a man's male lover, although you regularly ask about a husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend when you run into a heterosexual friend
Thinking that if gays or lesbians touch you, they are making sexual
Feeling repulsed by public displays of affection between lesbian women and gay men, but accepting the same affectionate displays between heterosexuals as "nice"
Feeling that gay people are too outspoken about gay rights
Believing that discussions about homosexuality and homophobia are not necessary
Being outspoken about gay rights, but making sure everyone knows that you are straight
Avoiding mentioning to your friends that you are involved with a woman's organization, because you are afraid that they will think you are lesbian
Not confronting a heterosexist remark for fear of being identified as gay or lesbian
Using the terms gay and lesbian as accusatory