Varieties of Homophobic Experience

Fascinating essay by a woman who reacts to “an intensely homophobic part of the world: the Caribbean”, and describes how…

I’ve actually started engaging homophobes in deep conversation, looking for the reasons, spoken and unspoken, that they feel this total incomprehension, disgust and dislike when it comes to gay people, especially gay men. My findings have led me to a sort of classification of homophobia into seven (often overlapping) types based on its source: gender norms, religion, ignorance, misogyny, personal experience, sexual insecurity or what I’d deem sociopathy.

Several of her categories correspond with the comments I made a while back, at the bottom of this post, about why people object to homosexuality.

Her two most relevant categories are these:

Type G: This homophobe’s stance is primarily rooted in an unnatural, simplistic, narrow, binary conception of gender. These gender norms shape their identity, their sense of pride and their understanding of how much power they wield in the world. They believe that anatomy determines psyche, purpose and personality, and that all men are supposed to be one way, want the same thing and have the same range of expression, and likewise for all women.

When you look at a map of the most homophobic places in the world, those places also tend to be the most gender-oppressive places, where women are often not allowed self-determination or the ability to achieve their fullest potential. This is not a coincidence.

Type R: This type of homophobe can be seen as a subset of Type G. They just believe that the aforementioned rigid and narrow gender molds are ordained by God. They usually don’t believe in evolution or put much stock in science in general, so they don’t believe in naturally occurring diversity, complexity and anomalies. They believe that once upon a time, everything was uniformly utopian in a garden paradise somewhere in the Middle East. They see gay people the same way that people in medieval times saw left-handed people: as manifestations of an evil generational curse called “sin” and/or being possessed by some kind of sinister force.

Type-R homophobes often deeply resent being called “homophobes.” They may actually believe that they are loving gay people even while saying defamatory, demeaning and discredited things about us. They refuse to recognize that their words and actions actually cause serious harm. Type-R homophobes claim to know that God shares their exact views on homosexuality, so for them, rejecting homophobic religious views is akin to rejecting God.

She has other categories, including the notorious repressed gays who lash out at others in response to feeling they have but can’t acknowledge.

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