Saturday, February 26, 2005

Homophobia is offensive

Homophobia - n.
  1. Fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men.
  2. Behavior based on such a feeling.
Homophobia is offensive.

Not the commonly accepted defnition of homophobia, but the word itself, and the concepts it represents.

Yes, the concept of hating or disliking, or disapproving of someone because of their sexual choices strikes me as silly, but that's not what I'm talking about.

The entire concept of homophobia is that people who don't like homosexuals, or homosexual behavior, are irrational, and that their only reason for that dislike is fear, or ignorance.

I'm going to say right now, that's bullshit.

More in the extended entry...

This concept assumes that if somehow people are more exposed to gay life, or if they are able to "get over their fear", then all will be sweentess and light, and everyone will accept gays.

The most vocal proponents of the homophobia concept also frequently espouse something that just about EVERYONE finds offensive. They often say that people who don't like gays feel that way because they themselves are gay, and they hate themselves for it.


I hate communists. I loathe their ideas, I loathe what they say, I loathe what they do. If a communist tries to have any influence over my life I will strenuously resist, perhaps up to the point of violence; Does that mean I am commiephobic? I don't have an irrational fear of communists, nor am I ignorant of communists ideas. I have plenty of exposure to communist ideas, and I reject them utterly. Does this mean I'm secretly a communist, and hate myself because of it?

Of course not.

I hate communists because the ideas and goals they espouse are evil and wrong, as are the methods they use to achive them. Man should be free, and have control over his own life, and his own goods. Communists believe exactly opposite what I do, and so long as they attempt to act against my beliefs I will continue to hate them.

My point here is that I have both rational, and personal arguments against communism that have nothing to do with fear or irrationaility or ignorance.

The real purpose of the word homophobia, is to make gay people feel better about themselves. It paints their detractors as they would say their detractors pain them, as compulsive, out of control, mentally ill, irrational, or subhuman.

Only if you assume that homosexuality is a mental illenss, can you ascribe the counter position to a mental illness, which is what homophobia literally is. A phobia is a compulsive mental illness that should be treated.

Now let me clarify, I don't mean to say that in some people fear or ignorance isn't the primary motivator, and in others a subsidary motivator, but the ascription of this to the entire realm of dislike or disapproval or homosexuals, or homosexual behavior, is both offensive, and counterproductive. It doesn't help people to stop hating, disliking, or disapproving of gays to call those people mentally ill.

If you accept that homosexuality is either an inherent nature, or a choice (and I believe it can be either, or both, depending on the person), then you must accept that there are people who on the other side either are inherently anti-gay, or who rationally choose to be anti-gay.

In argument, there is a tactic that relies on a logical fallacy, the ad hominem circumstantial argument of undesireable motives, or appeal to motive. If you ascribe an undesireable motive to those that hold a position contrary to your own, you can then attack the person to undermine their argument, without actually attacking the argument itself. If you say that people who disapprove of homosexuality are operating from fear or hate, you are attacking the man, but not the message.

There are both personal, and rational motives for anti-gay positions.

Homosexuality is by all scientific measure a far more risky lifestyle than heterosexuality. The physical activity itself is riskier, as well as the social environment. Gays tend not to plan for the future. Gays tend to be more prone to depression, self destructive behavior, and suicidal tendencies (for many reasons).

Please note, I am not claiming these statements are universally true, only that they are stastically true.

Despite all the media messages to the contrary, the primary vector for AIDS in the united states is still unprotected gay sex. The primary AIDS vector for straight people who don't use IV drugs, is unprotected sex with a bisexual person, or a partner of a bisexual person. This is especially true in the black and hispanic communities where secret homosexuality is far more common than among whites or Asians.

Note: Asians are statistically four times more likely to be openly gay than blacks. Asians are eight times as likely, and hispanics are more than five times as likely to be transgender than any other racial group. I have always wondered why that is, because social factors alone can't account for it.

The social enviroment of gay courtship is still, 25 years after the rise of AIDS, a very risky, and often hollow place. There are still many semi anonynmous relationships. Many men have dozens if not hundreds of partners. Many men still do not use condoms (do a search on any personal ads site for bareback if you don't believe me). Hang out with gay men for any length of time and you will hear them lament these very things. I'm not going to talk about the reasons behind this except to say they are many and varied, and they may not be so prevalent if homosexuality were more accepted in society, but we don't know.

What about the psychological health argument? How many truly happy gay men do you know? I have known hundreds of gay men, I know very few happy ones. I have known hundreds of lesbians, again I know very few happy ones. Without a doubt they are unhappier when they don't acknowledge their homosexuality, or worse, when they do acknowledge it, but hate themselves because of it, but even once they are open and accepting of their sexuality, rarely are they happy. Once again, the reasons behind this are many and varied, and they may ease if society becomes more accepting of gays, but maybe not.

Gay men and women also find it a hell of a lot more difficult to have and raise children than straight folks, and don't ever think that isn't a big deal to a lot of people. Whether motivated by faith, or by morals, or by science and demographics, theres a lot of folks who think that people should have kids. How many moms do you know who have adult children, and DON'T want to be a grandmother?

Again, I'm not saying these are universal truths, but they are generally and statistically true.

And then there is the argument of faith.

There are about 3 billion people in this world, who firmly and faithfully believe that homosexuality is inherently wrong from a moral standpoint; Ether as the explicit commandment of god, or as a behavior that causes damage to the soul. You may believe these peoples religion is stupid, irrational, wrong, or a symptom of mental illness, but it is very real for them.

Leaving the reasoning behind people positions aside, just because people believe that homosexuality is wrong, doesnt mean that they hate, or fear homosexuals.

My best fried is still a catholic, though I'm guessing the last time he went to church was about the same time I did. His youngest brother came out last year. The funny thing is, I knew the kid was gay from the time he was 7 or 8, and I think he probably knew too. Sure he tried dating girls, but he always knew it just wasn't right for him. The last people to figure it out were, of course, his family. They have a very major problem with his homosexuality. They believe that what he is doing is wrong, and that he is making himself unhappy (and he is, for whtaever reason). His parents want grandchildren. They worry about his safety. They worry about disease. They love their son, but they hate that he is gay. They do not fear him, or hate him, they are not ignorant of him or his feelings, or his life, but they hate that he is gay.

Of course the perfect kicker to this piece would be to announce that I am gay. Well, much to the disappoint of my friend Aiden, I am not, but I am also not one of those folks who belive that homosexuality is wrong. To my mind, someones sexuality has very little to do with what I think of them as a person, but their attidude, and their behavior certainly does.

I hate bitter angry queens. I hate people who thrust their gayness in my face and scream it in my ears. I hate people who tell me that I'm a bigot, or stupid, or unenlightened because I don't like their behavoir. I hate people who's gayness is the only thing in their life.

You know what I really hate? I hate this chant:

"We're here, W'ere Queer, Get over it"

Guess what, I got over it a long time ago, but obviously you haven't.