Homophobia is a blend of (1) the word homosexual and (2) phobia meaning "morbid fear of homosexuality" It's original use in print was to indicate a heterosexual man's fear of himself being homosexual. .
- 1 Origins
- 2 Classification
- 3 Distribution of attitudes
- 4 Criticism of meaning and purpose
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Coined by George Weinberg, a psychologist, in the 1960s, the term homophobia is a blend of (1) the word homosexual, itself a mix of neo-classical morphemes, and (2) phobia from the Greek φόβος, Phóbos, meaning "fear" or "morbid fear". Weinberg is credited as the first person to have used the term in speech. The word homophobia first appeared in print in an article written for the May 23, 1969, edition of the American pornographic magazine Screw, in which the word was used to refer to heterosexual men's fear that others might think they are gay.
A 1969 article in Time described examples of negative attitudes toward homosexuality as "homophobia", including "a mixture of revulsion and apprehension" which some called homosexual panic. In 1971, Kenneth Smith used homophobia as a personality profile to describe the psychological aversion to homosexuality. Weinberg also used it this way in his 1972 book Society and the Healthy Homosexual, published one year before the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Weinberg's term became an important tool for gay and lesbian activists, advocates, and their allies. He describes the concept as a medical phobia:
[A] phobia about homosexuals.... It was a fear of homosexuals which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for — home and family. It was a religious fear and it had led to great brutality as fear always does.
Homophobia manifests in different forms, and a number of different types have been postulated, among which are internalized homophobia, social homophobia, emotional homophobia, rationalized homophobia, and others. There were also ideas to classify homophobia, racism, and sexism as an intolerant personality disorder.
In 1992, the American Psychiatric Association, recognizing the power of the stigma against homosexuality, issued the following statement, reaffirmed by the Board of Trustees, July 2011: "Whereas homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) calls on all international health organizations, psychiatric organizations, and individual psychiatrists in other countries to urge the repeal in their own countries of legislation that penalizes homosexual acts by consenting adults in private. Further, APA calls on these organizations and individuals to do all that is possible to decrease the stigma related to homosexuality wherever and whenever it may occur."
Attitudes and Advocates
According to social justice advocates Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell and Pat Griffin, Homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientations that are non-heterosexual. LGBT advocates have defined types of homophobia to include institutionalized homophobia, e.g. religious homophobia and state-sponsored homophobia, and internalized homophobia, experienced by people who have same-sex attractions, regardless of how they identify.
Negative attitudes toward identifiable LGBT groups have similar yet specific names: lesbophobia is the intersection of homophobia and sexism directed against lesbians, biphobia targets bisexuality and bisexual people, and transphobia targets transgender and transsexual people and gender variance or gender role nonconformity.
Political opposition to homophobia
Many Leftist international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, condemn laws that make homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime. Since 1994, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has also ruled that such laws violated the right to privacy guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In 2008, the Roman Catholic Church issued a statement which "urges States to do away with criminal penalties against [homosexual persons]." The statement, however, was addressed to reject a resolution by the UN Assembly that would have precisely called for an end of penalties against homosexuals in the world. In March 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, described by CoE Secretary General as the first legal instrument in the world dealing specifically with one of the most long-lasting and difficult forms of discrimination to combat.
To combat homophobia, the LGBT community uses events such as gay pride parades and political activism (See gay pride). This is criticized by some[who?] as counter-productive though, as gay pride parades showcase what could be seen as more "extreme" sexuality: fetish-based and gender-variant aspects of LGBT culture. One form of organized resistance to homophobia is the International Day Against Homophobia (or IDAHO), first celebrated May 17, 2005 in related activities in more than 40 countries. The four largest countries of Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia) developed mass media campaigns against homophobia since 2002.
In addition to public expression, legislation has been designed, controversially, to oppose homophobia, as in hate speech, hate crime, and laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Successful preventative strategies against homophobic prejudice and bullying in schools have included teaching pupils about historical figures who were gay, or who suffered discrimination because of their sexuality.
Some argue that anti-LGBT prejudice is immoral and goes above and beyond the effects on that class of people. Warren J. Blumenfeld argues that this emotion gains a dimension beyond itself, as a tool for extreme right-wing conservatives and fundamentalist religious groups and as a restricting factor on gender-relations as to the weight associated with performing each role accordingly. Furthermore, Blumenfeld in particular stated:
"Anti-gay bias causes young people to engage in sexual behavior earlier in order to prove that they are straight. Anti-gay bias contributed significantly to the spread of the AIDS epidemic. Anti-gay bias prevents the ability of schools to create effective honest sexual education programs that would save children's lives and prevent STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)."
Internalized homophobia refers to negative stereotypes, beliefs, stigma, and prejudice about homosexuality and LGBT people that a person with same-sex attraction turns inward on themselves, whether or not they identify as LGBT. The degree to which someone is affected by these ideas depends on how much and which ideas they have consciously and subconsciously internalized. These negative beliefs can be mitigated with education, life experience and therapy, especially with gay-friendly psychotherapy/analysis. Internalized homophobia also applies to conscious or unconscious behaviors which a person feels the need to promote or conform to cultural expectations of heteronormativity or heterosexism. This can include extreme repression and denial coupled with forced outward displays of heteronormative behavior for the purpose of appearing or attempting to feel "normal" or "accepted." Expressions of internalized homophobia can also be subtle. Some less overt behaviors may include making assumptions about the gender of a person's romantic partner, or about gender roles. Some researchers also apply this label to LGBT people who support "compromise" policies, such as those that find civil unions acceptable in place of same-sex marriage.
Since the first use of the term (which was used to suggest heterosexual aversion to homosexuality was, in fact, a manifestation of latent homosexuality) some studies have attempted to link people identified as homophobic as being more likely to have repressed homosexual desires. In 1996, a controlled study of 64 heterosexual men (half said they were homophobic by experience, with self-reported orientation) at the University of Georgia found that men who were found to be homophobic (as measured by the Index of Homophobia) were considerably more likely to experience more erectile responses when exposed to homoerotic images than non-homophobic men. Another study in 2012 arrived at similar results when researchers found that students who came from "the most rigid anti-gay homes" were most likely to reveal repressed homosexual attraction. The researchers said that this explained why some religious leaders who denounce homosexuality are later revealed to have secret homosexual relations. They noted that "these people are at war with themselves and are turning this internal conflict outward."
Researcher Iain R. Williamson, in his 1998 work "Internalized Homophobia and Health Issues Affecting Lesbians and Gay Men" finds the term homophobia to be "highly problematic" but for reasons of continuity and consistency with the majority of other publications on the issue retains its use rather than using more accurate but obscure terminology. The phrase internalized sexual stigma is sometimes used in place to represent internalized homophobia. An internalized stigma arises when a person believes negative stereotypes about themselves, regardless of where the stereotypes come from. It can also refer to many stereotypes beyond sexuality and gender roles. Internalized homophobia can cause discomfort with and disapproval of one's own sexual orientation. Ego-dystonic sexual orientation or egodystonic homophobia, for instance, is a condition characterized by having a sexual orientation or an attraction that is at odds with one's idealized self-image, causing anxiety and a desire to change one's orientation or become more comfortable with one's sexual orientation. Such a situation may cause extreme repression of homosexual desires. In other cases, a conscious internal struggle may occur for some time, often pitting deeply held religious or social beliefs against strong sexual and emotional desires. This discordance can cause clinical depression, and a higher rate of suicide among LGBT youth (up to 30 percent of non-heterosexual youth attempt suicide) has been attributed to this phenomenon. Psychotherapy, such as gay affirmative psychotherapy, and participation in a sexual-minority affirming group can help resolve the internal conflicts, such as between religious beliefs and sexual identity. Even informal therapies that address understanding and accepting of non-heterosexual orientations can prove effective. Many diagnostic "Internalized Homophobia Scales" can be used to measure a person's discomfort with their sexuality and some can be used by people regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Critics of the scales note that they presume a discomfort with non-heterosexuality which in itself enforces heternormativity.
The fear of being identified as gay can be considered as a form of social homophobia. Theorists including Calvin Thomas and Judith Butler have suggested that homophobia can be rooted in an individual's fear of being identified as gay. Homophobia in men is correlated with insecurity about masculinity. For this reason, homophobia is allegedly rampant in sports, and in the subculture of its supporters that is considered stereotypically male, such as association football and rugby.
These theorists have argued that a person who expresses homophobic thoughts and feelings does so not only to communicate their beliefs about the class of gay people, but also to distance themselves from this class and its social status. Thus, by distancing themselves from gay people, they are reaffirming their role as a heterosexual in a heteronormative culture, thereby attempting to prevent themselves from being labeled and treated as a gay person. This interpretation alludes to the idea that a person may posit violent opposition to "the Other" as a means of establishing their own identity as part of the majority and thus gaining social validation.
Nancy J. Chodorow states that homophobia can be viewed as a method of protection of male masculinity.
Various psychoanalytic theories explain homophobia as a threat to an individual's own same-sex impulses, whether those impulses are imminent or merely hypothetical. This threat causes repression, denial or reaction formation.
Distribution of attitudes
Disapproval of homosexuality and of gay people is not evenly distributed throughout society, but is more or less pronounced according to age, ethnicity, geographic location, race, sex, social class, education, partisan identification and religious status. According to UK HIV/AIDS charity AVERT, religious views, lack of homosexual feelings or experiences, and lack of interaction with gay people are strongly associated with such views.
The anxiety of heterosexual individuals (particularly adolescents whose construction of heterosexual masculinity is based in part on not being seen as gay) that others may identify them as gay has also been identified by Michael Kimmel as an example of homophobia. The taunting of boys seen as eccentric (and who are not usually gay) is said to be endemic in rural and suburban American schools, and has been associated with risk-taking behavior and outbursts of violence (such as a spate of school shootings) by boys seeking revenge or trying to assert their masculinity. Homophobic bullying is also very common in schools in the United Kingdom.
In some cases, the works of authors who merely have the word "Gay" in their name (Gay Talese, Peter Gay) or works about things also contain the name (Enola Gay) have been destroyed because of a perceived pro-homosexual bias.
In the United States, attitudes about people who are homosexual may vary on the basis of partisan identification. Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to have negative attitudes about people who are gay and lesbian, according to surveys conducted by the National Election Studies from 2000 through 2004. This disparity is shown in the graph on the right, which is from a book published in 2008 by Joseph Fried. The tendency of Republicans to view gay and lesbian people negatively could be based on homophobia, religious beliefs, or conservatism with respect to the traditional family.
In a 1998 address, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King stated that "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood." One study of white adolescent males conducted at the University of Cincinnati by Janet Baker has been used to argue that negative feelings towards gay people are also associated with other discriminatory behaviors. According to the study, hatred of gay people, anti-Semitism, and racism are "likely companions." Baker hypothesized "maybe it's a matter of power and looking down on all you think are at the bottom." A study performed in 2007 in the UK for the charity Stonewall reports that up to 90 percent of the population support anti-discrimination laws protecting gay and lesbian people.
Social constructs and culture can perpetuate homophobic attitudes. Such cultural sources in the black community include:
Sources of homophobia in the white community include:
- The Arts
- Films and literature that project negative gay stereotypes.
Professional sports in many countries involves homophobic expressions by star athletes and by fans. Incidents in the United States have included:
- The homophobic chants and attitudes of certain fans, for example the labeling of one fan who frequently dances at games as "Homo Larry", have been protested by attendees of New York Rangers games and by New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
- All-Star National Basketball Association player Tim Hardaway drew criticism after he said on the "790 the Ticket" radio show, "Well, you know, I hate gay people. I let it be known I don’t like gay people. I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic. I don’t like it, it shouldn’t be in the world, in the United States, I don’t like it.”
Criticism of meaning and purpose
Distinctions and proposed alternatives
Researchers have proposed alternative terms to describe prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people. Some of these alternatives show more semantic transparency while others do not include -phobia:
- Homoerotophobia, being a possible precursor term to homophobia, was coined by Wainwright Churchill and documented in Homosexual Behavior Among Males in 1967.
- The etymology of homophobia citing the union of homos and phobos is the basis for LGBT historian Boswell's criticism of the term and for his suggestion in 1980 of the alternative homosexophobia.
- Homonegativity is based on the term homonegativism used by Hudson and Ricketts in a 1980 paper; they coined the term for their research in order to avoid homophobia, which they regarded as being unscientific in its presumption of motivation.
- Heterosexism refers to a system of negative attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favour of opposite-sex sexual orientation and relationships. p. 13 It can include the presumption that everyone is heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior.
- Sexual prejudice – Researcher at the University of California, Davis Gregory M. Herek preferred sexual prejudice as being descriptive, free of presumptions about motivations, and lacking value judgments as to the irrationality or immorality of those so labeled. He compared homophobia, heterosexism, and sexual prejudice, and, in preferring the third term, noted that homophobia was "probably more widely used and more often criticized." He also observed that "Its critics note that homophobia implicitly suggests that antigay attitudes are best understood as an irrational fear and that they represent a form of individual psychopathology rather than a socially reinforced prejudice."
Opposition to the term "homophobia"
Use of homophobia, homophobic, and homophobe has been criticized as pejorative against LGBT rights opponents. Behavioral scientists William O'Donohue and Christine Caselles state that "as [homophobia] is usually used, [it] makes an illegitimately pejorative evaluation of certain open and debatable value positions, much like the former disease construct of homosexuality" itself, arguing that the term may be used as an ad hominem argument against those who advocate values or positions of which the user does not approve.
In 2012 the Associated Press Style Book was revised to advise against using non-clinical words with the suffix -phobia, including homophobia, in "political and social contexts." AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn said the word homophobia suggests a severe mental disorder, and that it could be substituted with "anti-gay" or similar phrasing. The AP's decision was criticized in some media outlets, especially those in the LGBT area, who argued that homophobia did not necessarily have to be interpreted in a strict clinical sense.
The term heterophobia is sometimes used to describe reverse discrimination or negative attitudes towards heterosexual people and opposite-sex relationships. The scientific use of heterophobia in sexology is restricted to few researchers, notably those who question Alfred Kinsey's sex research. To date, the existence or extent of heterophobia is mostly unrecognized by sexologists. Beyond sexology there is no consensus as to the meaning of the term because it is also used to mean "fear of the opposite" such as in Pierre-André Taguieff's The Force of Prejudice: On Racism and Its Doubles (2001).
Referring to the debate on both meaning and use, SUNY lecturer Raymond J. Noonan, in his 1999 presentation to The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) Conference, states:
The term heterophobia is confusing for some people for several reasons. On the one hand, some look at it as just another of the many me-too social constructions that have arisen in the pseudoscience of victimology in recent decades. (Many of us recall John Money’s 1995 criticism of the ascendancy of victimology and its negative impact on sexual science.) Others look at the parallelism between heterophobia and homophobia, and suggest that the former trivializes the latter... For others, it is merely a curiosity or parallel-construction word game. But for others still, it is part of both the recognition and politicization of heterosexuals' cultural interests in contrast to those of gays—particularly where those interests are perceived to clash.
Stephen M. White and Louis R. Franzini introduced the related term heteronegativism to refer to the considerable range of negative feelings that some gay individuals may hold and express toward heterosexuals. This term is preferred to heterophobia because it does not imply extreme or irrational fear.
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- Frank, Nathaniel (27 November 2012). "The Associated Press Bans Homophobia". Slate. Retrieved 16 December 2012. Nathaniel Frank of Slate suggested that "In pursuit of accuracy, the standard-setters (got) it wrong" and that Minthorn's words were "oddly amorphous phrases for a standards editor".
- Raymond J. Noonan (November 6, 1999). "Heterophobia: The Evolution of an Idea". Dr. Ray Noonan’s 1999 Conference Presentations. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
- Kinsey, Sex and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People. An Investigation Into the Human Sexuality Research of Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin, and Paul H. Gebhard by Judith A. Reisman and Edward W. Eichel
- The Complete Dictionary of Sexuality by Robert T. Francoeur
- White, Stephen M.; Franzini, Louis R. (1999). "Heteronegativism? The attitudes of gay men and lesbians toward heterosexuals. Journal of Homosexuality". Journal of Homosexuality. 37 (1): 65–79. doi:10.1300/j082v37n01_05.
|Look up heterophobia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Homophobia.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Homophobia|
|Look up Homophobia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Homophobia at DMOZ
- Sexual Prejudice: Understanding Homophobia and Heterosexism
- The Homophobic Imagination – an essay by Rictor Norton and Louie Crew
- The Rockway Institute for LGBT research in the public interest at Alliant International University
- PBS – "Frontline's" homophobia quiz
- Homophobia Is Itself an Abomination by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
- European Parliament – resolution on homophobia in Europe
- An analysis of Campaigns against Homophobia in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico
- Homophobia Is the Problem, Not Gays-- photos from anti-homophobia event By Irina Echarry, Havana Times May 19, 2009
- United Nations Human Rights Council, Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, an annual report