ho·mo·pho·bi·a [hoh-muh-foh-bee-uh] noun
Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexualsBased on the above definition, someone that is homophobic fears homosexuals. But if you ask the average straight person if they’re “afraid” of gays and lesbians, more than likely, they’ll say no. Disgust, hatred and religious sympathy are the adverbs most would use to describe their feelings towards this group of people. Fear wouldn’t necessarily be a part of their emotional analysis. Well, not on a surface level at least. So, by definition, can someone like that really be considered homophobic?
While some yet-to-be-created term may be a better label to throw on those who oppose homosexuality, I just realized that a lot of men, myself included, can actually be labeled homophobic by its true definition. Let’s be clear, that’s not to say that I hate gays and lesbians or anyone in the LGBT community, but I can acknowledge my own past fears, as well as those of other straight men.
Hear me out…
For the most part, when a gay man is in the presence of straight men it can be the most uncomfortable situation for the latter group. Straight men are so afraid of being perceived as gay that they act extra macho and get kind of nervous. Sounds like someone is a bit scared to me.
Speaking for myself, I know for a fact when I see a clearly visible gay man that I don’t want to make any kind of eye contact whatsoever. My face screws up and my eyes trail down to the floor or off to the side. Anywhere but the direction of that individual. Uh uh, buddy, you’re not making googly eyes with me. I know I’m not alone, straight guys tense up all the time in the presence of a gay may. Why? It just makes us very uncomfortable for various reasons.
Case in point, a few years back I was in New Orleans on an assignment to interview Lil Wayne and wound up having dinner with a co-worker, photographer and his crew—one of which was gay. We all went out for drinks at some bar after the shoot and at the end of the night my co-worker and I said our farewells while the photographer and his crew stayed around.
Apparently the gay guy in the group was outside having a smoke and before I could finish extending my hand to say goodbye he hugged me. WTF? Maybe he was drunk, but regardless it was the most awkward thing ever. He totally threw me for a loop, and I was baffled. But I took it for what it was and kept it moving like any other straight man would’ve done. It’s not like he kissed me or grabbed my ass or anything.
But the question is why? Was this not a man just like me? (Well, not exactly just like me, but a human being regardless). If you’re not gay and have no desires to be gay, why should the presence of a gay man make you uncomfortable? Isn’t it almost the same thing as being in the presence of a girl you’re not attracted to? You’re not interested so any advances on her part are pointless as they’ll get shot down and you’ll keep it moving? Why doesn’t the same thing apply for a gay man? And who’s to say that every gay person wants you anyway? Maybe you’re not their type. (We can hope for as much, right? LOL)
Still, many straight men exhibit fear around gay men. I bet if a gay person were to walk up to a straight man and randomly pick lint of his collar that the straight guy would jump back like he saw a ghost. That, and probably be ready to fight. But would he have the same reaction if it were an attractive woman doing the exact same thing?
Maybe that wasn’t the best example, because who really just picks lint off of someone they don’t even know, but hopefully you get my point. Maybe more of us are homophobic (in its true definition) than we thought we were. It’s all about perception. It’s like there are straight men who feel that just by being in the presence of a gay man that the gay will somehow rub off on them and make them look weak, soft or like a punk. But just because a person likes someone of the same sex it makes you nervous? Now who’s the punk?
Just something to think about…
Do you think all straight men are slightly homophobic? Am I the only man that feels uncomfortable around gay men? Do you think most people who are opposed to gay people are more scared or hateful of homosexuals? Do you think people that are so adamantly against homosexuality are actually bi-curious? Do you believe that gay people should have the right to get married legally? Why or why not? Are you secure enough in your own sexuality to have a friend that was gay? Would you ever be concerned of people thinking that you were gay as a result? Are you okay with people being gay as long as they don’t come on to you? Does that make you homophobic?
Speak your piece…