New Body
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New Body

The Homophobe Unmasked: Perceptions, Meanings, and Consequences

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Homophobes respond in negative ways to the existence of queer people. It upsets them. They have complex feelings that they don’t know how to express in healthy ways to themselves or others. They choose to express those feelings to queer people as a way of controlling or to peer groups they feel will bolster them in their deception such as:

  • Queer people are perverted and unnatural in their affections.
  • That God does not approve of such a lifestyle.
  • Questions like: Why would they want to do that with a member of the same-sex?
  • That homosexuals often live perverse lives in other ways like drugs and homelessness and crime.

As a purveyor of homophobic shunning and abuse, they do not realize that:

  • What they believe are unnatural affections are just feelings that people can have in a consensual way that don’t belong to them. Sexuality is largely an aesthetic choice, not a moral one.
  • Their perception of God may be very different from the other person or they may not be religious at all. LGBT people come from all kinds of faith systems or humanist beliefs, and they have probably addressed these objections in their own minds well before they told you.

The homophobe’s inability to think about queer people without imagining their sex lives is a product of their perverted imaginations, not queer peoples’ healthy and meaningful orientations that are sometimes expressed in a sexual way:

  • Queerness is not just physical in its expression but social, cultural, and emotional as well. Queer people are not asking to commit sexual acts in front of you when existing but simply expressing their true selves.

Concern for LGBT folks well-being is kind but holding to stereotypes without considering how the same homophobic attitudes they possess encourage them is a moral failing on the part of the homophobe:

  • Many queer people have turned to drugs and harmful substances because of shame from homophobic friends, family members, and social institutions that devalue them for that difference.
  • Homelessness among LGBT youth is often a direct result of coming out or a consequence of drug use spurred by feelings of inadequacy planted by homophobes who claimed to love them better than they actually do.
  • Crime is often a symptom of the other two concerns done out of need.

The true crime belongs to the homophobe, coming against the queer friend or family member in this way shows that they do not believe that LGBT people have moral agency or the ability to make good choices for themselves and use that belief to paint false pictures of what their healthy sexuality means. This creates barriers to intimacy for both.

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

How does this change the relationship between the homophobe and the queer person?

There is often a pulling away on one or both sides. It is healthier for the queer person not to invest in relationships that question their value or moral autonomy. Finding community that does value them in that way becomes very important to the LGBT persons health and well-being.

Relationships with homophobes who continually question and devalue the queer person become risk factors for mental health concerns such as shame cycling(constantly devaluing yourself for innate qualities you can’t control) and suicide ideation that could lead to death.

Homophobes actively contribute to the poor mental health and lower quality-of-life that many queer people experience.

Some homophobes may feel this is evidence of a moral failing in the life of LGBT folks when, in fact, they haven’t turned that mirror on themselves and seen where such ugliness truly resides. Think about the harmful things the homophobe may have said above and what it means if those become internalized by the queer person:

  • I am unnatural and a pervert.
  • God does not love me.
  • My sexual orientation simply expressed makes me disgusting to people who love me.
  • I am on a slippery slope toward things I find morally objectionable because of a simple truth I have accepted about myself.

Where does this leave the LGBT person but the pit of despair…this is not love or friendship or family.

The proper solution is for the homophobe to repent of their problem of perception so they can love their queer neighbor well. It can be done, but it is their work to do — it is not the LGBT person’s job to lead them to acceptance.

If a queer person decides to keep a homophobe in their lives they may offer boundaries. These start with the homophobe not projecting their false ideas of what it means to be queer on their friend or family member. Be ready to apologize often. You are capable of loving your LGBT neighbor well.

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