Homophobia: Hate Sells
The term, homophobia, is often misused. It actually means an irrational fear of
homosexuals or of homosexual acts. The term that is more aptly applied to what we mean when we often describe
someone who is “homophobic” is heterosexism, a belief that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality.
The majority of people are largely heterosexual. They form romantic ties to people of the opposite sex and
usually engage in sexual acts with members of the opposite sex. Although a surprising number of this majority have
on one or more occasions had some sort of sexual experience with a member of the same sex, they will often
attribute the experiences as experimental or aberrations of their normal behavior.
Thus, anyone who identifies as homosexual or bisexual is seen by the heterosexist as being part of “the other,”
inherently inferior and worthy of being treated differently from members of the majority. This, though, is not the
same as fear.
“Otherness” can be identified along a number of variables, and it has been throughout recorded human history.
Those who have different religious beliefs, a different ethnicity, a different skin shade or are a different sex
have served as the other and continue to be so defined.
Being so defined, as the other, often brings societal subjugation. Thus, members of some religions or
non-believers are often persecuted or worse. Women or people of certain races have been denied the rights of full
citizenship within their societies. And in many nations of the world, gay men and women have never been able to
attain equal protection of the law. Indeed, laws have been written to make them hold a separate class of
Periodically in history, demagogues arise who strive to make the otherness of the disenfranchised something to
fear. Sometimes these demagogues do so of their own odd personality traits. Other times they do so because they
identify an opportunity to increase their own power, wealth and perceived stature.
In the United States, we find this demagoguery operating in those who loudly claim to see a gay agenda
threatening the foundation of the core values of society. Precisely what core values are being threatened remains
purposefully vague. Indeed, to the extent that there exists a gay agenda, it is rather precisely in line with core
American values. The agenda, at its core, is nothing beyond equal treatment under the law.
But the demagogues are determined to create an irrational, sometimes hysterical fear of what equality of
homosexual people would mean. Their true believers are therefore induced to trade their doubtless heterosexism for
the more sinister and desperate homophobia that we see in far too many churches.
Perhaps saddest of all is that many of those same churches filled with fear and loathing for “the other” of the
moment, gays, were only a generation ago the object of derision of the intellectual predecessor of the current band
of self-enriching preachers and politicians. And in the greatest of ironies, it was often gay men and women from
the cities who arose to protest their treatment and contradict the illogical arguments lodged against them.
As gay men and women we face an uphill climb. Hate sells. It has always had a more visceral appeal than love and
acceptance, which is comparatively passive. Yes, hate sells, and often those first in line to buy are the very ones
who were its last targets, relieved that the bullseye is no longer on them.
Our Articles Dealing With Homophobia:
Homophobia Is Really Heterosexism
Fear of Homophobes
A Couple Of Highly Regarded, Relevant Books: