Homophobia: What is it, really?
not against homosexuals. I'm against homosexuality"
Have you ever
heard this? A quick online search will find it on many web
sites. And from some religious sites it includes the notion "Hate the sin,
but don't hate the sinner." Further, some of
those opposed to homosexuality and homosexual marriage have
stated a favorable view toward homosexuals, themselves, adding that this proves they are not homophobic.
Hmmmm...what's say we take a closer look at this thing
usual definition: We
did an online search and found homophobia defined as fear of
BOTH homosexuals and homosexuality, at in the definitions we
found. For example:
Wikipedia tells us:
Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative
attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and in some cases
bisexual, transgender people and behavior, although these are
usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and
transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the
implication of antipathy, contempt, prejudice, and aversion.
Dictionary.com defines it as:
unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and
Here's what we think
everyone, we see homophobia as an unreasoning FEAR. That's
pretty much what all phobias are.
But the crucial question
is: Fear of what?
We think it's fear of
homosexuality, a fear of arousal by the same sex. And, as
the graphic on the left below suggests, it may include an insecurity
about being heterosexual.
As we noted above, the
definition of homophobia includes the fear of homosexuals.
And while believe that fear of homosexuals does exist, we think
primarily the fear of homosexuality, itself, fear of sexual arousal by the same
sex. And it is the fear of homosexuality itself
that can and often, but not always,
leads to the fear of homosexuals.
We think this
means there are people who feel insecure about their
heterosexuality. They need to tell themselves that
heterosexuality is a biological imperative, while homosexuality
is a "choice" which they wouldn't want to make. The notion
of sexual activity with the same sex makes their skin crawl.
Why did we bring this up?
Because there are lots who deny homophobia by saying
they have no problem with homosexuals (as in, "Some of my best
friends are queer"). Or, as we put at the top of this
page, "I'm not against homosexual; I'm against homosexuality."
They offer their acceptance of homosexuals as proof they are not
homophobic. And we want to point out that not
being afraid of homosexuals isn't the same thing as not being
afraid of homosexuality. In terms of logical fallacies,
this could be called a "false equivalence" (not afraid of
homosexuals = not afraid of homosexuality).
more of what we think:
We think there are lots of
folks who have, over time and with the changing social climate, come
to accept the fact there are homosexuals in their midst.
They have come to feel OK about that and to even have friendly
relationships with homosexuals.
But they can still be
homophobic, whether they know it, or not. They find the notion of homosexuality, the
very act of sexual interaction with the same sex, to be
repellent, distressing, aversive, and downright unpleasant.
So there is still an underlying, perhaps rather preconscious, or
even unconscious homophobia in them
We're not condemning any such
homophobia, any more than we would condemn ANY phobia of any
sort (such as.,
acrophobia, arachnophobia, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and so
on), we just want to point out that even those who claim
to be OK with homosexuals can still harbor negative feelings
about homosexuality itself. They can still be
Now, being homophobic may be OK, depending
on how it influences their behavior toward homosexuals, but we
still think it desirable to uncover this potential underlying
reality--that is, after all, what this web site is all about.
Also, if there is a phobia
about homosexuality, there can be a phobia about heterosexuality
(heterophobia, if you will), and we have, in fact, met a
homosexual who has heterophobia.
Finally, we want to steer you
toward an online essay that does more complete treatment of this
To read "Homophobia:
The fear behind the hatred" by Scot Bidstrup
return to the brief introduction to Hot Topics
return to the Articles Page