Homophobia and dealing with it
What is homophobia?
Homophobia is the fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust of people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
Homophobia can take many different forms, including negative attitudes and beliefs about, aversion to, or prejudice against bisexual, lesbian, and gay people.
It’s often based on irrational fear and misunderstanding.
Some people’s homophobia may be rooted in conservative religious beliefs. People may hold homophobic beliefs if they were taught them by parents and families.
Homophobic people may use mean language and name-calling when they talk about lesbian and gay people
In its most extreme forms, homophobia can cause people to bully, abuse, and inflict violence on lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
Here are some examples of homophobia:
- Bullying a person online because he’s gay or assumed to be gay.
- Spreading rumors about a person being queer. Or tell other people that someone is questioning their sexual identity, when they haven’t said you can share.
- Parents kicking their bisexual kids out of the house for not being straight.
- Not wanting to be friends with somebody after she comes out as a lesbian.
What is Internalized Homophobia?
- Internalized homophobia refers to people who are homophobic while also experiencing same-sex attraction themselves.
- Sometimes, people may have negative attitudes and beliefs about those who experience same-sex attraction. And then turn the negative beliefs in on themselves rather than come to terms with their own desires.
- This may mean that they feel discomfort and disapproval with their own same-sex attractions, never accept their same-sex attractions, or never identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
- People dealing with internalized homophobia may feel the need to “prove” that they’re straight, exhibit very stereotypical behavior of straight men and women. Or even bully and discriminate against openly gay people.
What is an outing?
- The outing is the act of revealing someone else's sexual orientation without their permission.
- If you share information about someone's sexual orientation against their wishes, you risk affecting their lives very negatively by making them feel embarrassed, upset, and vulnerable.
- You may also put them at risk for discrimination and violence.
- If someone shares their orientation with you, remember that this is very personal information. It’s an honor that they trusted you enough to tell you. Always ask them what you’re allowed to share with others and respect their wishes.
Where can I get support if I’m dealing with homophobia?
People who experience homophobic harassment often feel alone and are afraid to tell anyone what’s happening. You should never have to face harassment.
You can get support from:
- Other LGBTQ people
- Straight people who are allies to LGBTQ people
- LGBTQ organizations
- Trusted LGBTQ adults that you may already know, such as family members or teachers
- Online communities of LGBTQ people
What can I do to help stop homophobia?
There are several things you can do to help stop homophobia,
- Don’t ever use negative or offensive language to describe LGBTQ people.
- Be careful of how even casual language — such as saying “that’s so gay”— can hurt others.
- Don’t believe stereotypes about LGBTQ people or make assumptions about them.
- Be a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community, regardless of your own sexual orientation and identity. This is called being an ally.
- Let the LGBTQ people in your life know that you’re a friend and ally.
- Educate yourself on LGBTQ issues.
- Respect LGBTQ people’s decisions about when and where to come out.
- Remember that being LGBTQ is just one part of a person’s complex identity and life.
- Show as much interest in your LGBTQ friends’ or family members’ partners as you would show in a straight person’s partner.
- If you feel safe doing so, speak up when other people are being homophobic or biphobic, such as making offensive jokes, using negative language, or bullying or harassing someone because of their sexual orientation or identity.
When addressing homophobia in others:
- Decide if it’s safe to address the issue.
Some things to consider:
- Will you be confronting a stranger in public? Or a friend or family member in private?
- Do you want to speak up now or save it for later, when you’re alone with the person?
- Would it be safest for you to leave it alone and walk away?
- Ask questions and stay calm.
- Often, people don’t know that the language they’re using is insensitive.
- Avoid insulting them and tell them why you find their words offensive.