The Problem with Homophobia
In the land of freedom, homophobia runs free. In my everyday life I constantly hear stories of bullied teens in high school or younger committing suicide because they are ashamed of who they are, because they feel like they will never be accepted in the this world because they are gay.
back in the day, people, both men, women and people with non-binary genders, were forced to marry into a heterosexual relationship in order to sustain any type of social acceptance. Although recently, some progress has been made when it comes to the acceptance of LGBT identities and communities, there are still plenty of individuals who feel the need to hide from their true identity for fear of prosecution and ridicule.
The LGBT community as a whole experiences violence and hate speech from homophobic people nearly constantly but the problem with homophobia doesn’t stop there. Heterosexual people often get hurt by the inherent homophobia of our society too; for example, when an LGBT person is not out of the closet because they are afraid or ashamed of their identity, they might used a straight identifying person to hide behind. Essentially, a gay identifying person who is still closeted may date a straight identifying person in order to seem straight to appeal to societal norms. The hatred in this country and the bias against homosexual people is the cause of what should be avoidable heartbreak. The seemingly selfish behavior of LGBT people in situations like these is directly related to their fear of an inherently homophobic society.
On the other hand, I’m very proud of those who are brave enough to be loud and proud about their sexual identity and openly stand out as who they are. Homophobia is an opinion that directs prejudice towards identities that cause no direct harm to themselves or the rest of the world. Homophobic attacks around the world have led to people in the LGBT community living in fear, some even putting themselves through hell by undergoing “therapy” to change something they cannot control after being pressured by homophobic peers. Some people kill themselves because they feel that there is simply no other way to avoid the persecution and ridicule of their peers.
Now is the time to step out of the homophobic bubble and take action to make the world a better place one day at a time. You can choose not to take part in homophobia. While it may take time and effort to change the way you view the world, in the end you can lean to be a more open-minded individual.
To start the process, it is important to reflect upon your own beliefs by writing down your feelings or simply finding the root of your own homophobic ideals. If you are making a conscious decision to stop being homophobic, then you have already noticed some feelings or actions that trouble you or those around you. Write down your feelings or what actions trigger certain feelings of homophobia in your life. For example, when you have thoughts such as, “I feel uncomfortable and angry when I see a same-sex couple kissing”, take a second to think about why it is you feel that way. Second, you can research and reflect upon your feelings once you have written down the specific things that ignite your homophobic tendencies. From there, you can analyze why you feel the way that you do. This is a necessary step to start making changes in your thinking. Try and ask yourself “Why do I feel angry in x situation? Who or what has influenced this emotion? Is there a reason why I feel this way?” ”Do I think it is reasonable to feel this way? What steps can I take to not feel this way?” or ”Can I talk to someone about these feelings to identify why I feel this way?”
Once you have been introspective on what sort of feelings you have and why, list out specific bad behaviors that you would like to change. This might make you feel ashamed because of your past actions, but it is always best to be honest with yourself so that you can move forward. Try and list what the consequences there might have been for your actions. Be as specific as possible like “I have a bad habit of using the word ‘gay’ to describe things. I think this can be offensive to people who identify as gay” and make a list of thing you would like to change. If you have identified these bad habits and negative feelings, it is time to consider the positive by listing goals you would like to achieve.
When it is time you will know to stand up against homophobia. You may have heard, or even said, “that’s so gay!” This kind of homophobic slang is considered insensitive and hurtful to the LGBT community, as it is a derogatory term. When you hear this phrase, try and stop people from using it. Stand up for others — bullying is a serious problem but is totally preventable. If you see or hear hateful slurs, hateful speech, or hateful actions against someone (homosexual or heterosexual), stand up for them with a message of support.
76 countries in the world currently have laws that persecute same sex couples. History has shown discriminatory and hateful practices against the LGBT community. Take the time to learn about some of these grievances to gain a better perspective on what this community has had to face. During WWII, Nazi Germany placed homosexuals in concentration camps. Learning facts and history like this can help put this hatred into perspective and perhaps allow you to learn to be more tolerant and understanding. We all know that it is hard to put yourself in other’s shoes and understand how others are feeling, but once you start to feel comfortable with your own feelings, it is time to push yourself to change.
Once you start to broaden your mind and exercise good habits, try making new friends who identify as a member of the LGBT community. Be respectful and nice, and do not ask pointed questions about their sexual orientation. Talk to someone who shares your own interests and hobbies, and be yourself. Societal change starts from within and each of us has the power to make a difference. When you have made the effort to rid yourself of the homophobia so present in today’s society, you will have taken the biggest step towards a more inclusive, less hateful world.
Friedrichs Ellen, “ How to defeat Homophobic Arguments” Teen Gays About, Jun 4, 2015, Web. Dec 6, 2016
Merriam Webster, “Homophobia definition”, Web. Dec 7, 2016.
Reverend Lauren, “ Why Homophobia Makes No Sense”, University Life Church, Jan 25,2012, Web. Dec 6, 2016.