What is Homophobia?
Homophobia is the fear, dislike, or hatred of a person who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Homophobia can result in discrimination and violence against GLB people. Homophobia is similar to transphobia, the fear or dislike of transgender individuals.
What Causes Homophobia?
There are many different causes of homophobia. One is negative messages some people get about being gay from family, society and religion. Another is their beliefs about the causes of sexual orientation. In fact, a recent poll found that more people than ever believe that sexual orientation is born, not learned, and that this belief makes someone less likely to have anti-gay feelings.
How Homophobia Hurts Everyone
Homophobia doesn't only hurt the gay community. In fact, people both gay and straight can be harmed by biased, or discriminatory, views.
Warren J. Blumenfeld's Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price, identifies number of specific ways that homophobia hurts straight people. Here are 7:
- Homophobia locks all people into rigid gender roles that inhibit creativity and self-expression.
- Homophobia pressures straight people to treat others badly.
- Homophobia limits the ability to form close, intimate relationships with members of our own sex.
- Homophobia can make teens feel pressured to have sex (with the opposite sex) to prove that they are "normal."
- Homophobia prevents discussion of GLBT people in school, which keeps important information from all students.
- Homophobia targets people who are perceived or defined by others as GLBT but who are actually straight.
- Homophobia prevents other types of diversity when people feel the need to conform.
Homophobia also makes it hard to be a straight-ally, since straight people who are otherwise supportive of the GLBT community are afraid to speak up.