Homophobia

negative attitudes towards and discrimination against homosexuality and LGBT people

Homophobia encompasses a range of hatred or fear toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE MARCH 31, 2005 edition of the New York Times, the editors ran an extraordinary photograph well above the fold and directly below the masthead. It showed a group of religious leaders meeting in Jerusalem the previous day: three Islamic muftis, a Sufi shiek, a Roman Catholic prelate, a Greek Orthodox and an Armenian patriarch, the Ashenazi chief rabbi, and the Sephardic chief rabbi. The purpose of their meeting? A long-overdue interfaith condemnation of religious violence in the Mideast? A call for the Israeli government to forswear the destruction of Palestinian homes in exchange for a pledge to discourage suicide bombers? A resolution against religious bigotry or an entreaty to end the maddening cycle of violence? Perhaps a summit to discuss the war in Iraq? Or the racially, religiously, and politically divisive effects of a huge wall that the Israeli government had been constructing to separate Jews from Palestinians?
No. The religious leaders had gathered in Jerusalem to issue a joint statement of condemnation for a planned gay-pride festival in Jerusalem. ~ Randall Herbert Balmer
I repeat my belief: Homosexuals do not suffer discrimination when they keep their perversions in the privacy of their homes. They can hold any job, transact any business, join any organization- so long as they do not flaunt their homosexuality and try to establish role models for the impressionable young people- our children. ~ Anita Bryant


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  • Hostility and discrimination against homosexual individuals are well-established facts (Berrill, 1990). On occasion, these negative attitudes lead to hostile verbal and physical acts against gay individuals with little apparent motivation except a strong dislike (Herek, 1989). In fact, more than 90% of gay men and lesbians report being targets of verbal abuse or threats, and more than one-third report being survivors of violence related to their homosexuality (Fassinger, 1991 ). Although negative attitudes and behaviors toward gay individuals have been assumed to be associated with rigid moralistic beliefs, sexual ignorance, and fear of homosexuality, the etiology of these attitudes and behaviors remains a puzzle (Marmor, 1980). Weinberg ( 1972 ) labeled these attitudes and behaviors homophobia, which he de- fined as the dread of being in close quarters with homosexual men and women as well as irrational fear, hatred, and intolerance by heterosexual individuals of homosexual men and women.
  • Although the causes of homophobia are unclear, several psychoanalytic explanations have emerged from the idea of homo- phobia as an anxiety-based phenomenon. One psychoanalytic explanation is that anxiety about the possibility of being or be- coming a homosexual may be a major factor in homophobia (West, 1977). For example, de Kuyper (1993) has asserted that homophobia is the result of the remnants of homosexuality in the heterosexual resolution of the Oedipal conflict. Whereas these notions are vague, psychoanalytic theories usually postulate that homophobia is a result of repressed homosexual urges or a form of latent homosexuality. Latent homosexuality can be defined as homosexual arousal which the individual is either unaware of or denies (West, 1977 ). Psychoanalysts use the concept of repressed or latent homosexuality to explain the emotional malaise and irrational attitudes displayed by some individuals who feel guilty about their erotic interests and struggle to deny and repress homosexual impulses. In fact, West ( 1977, p. 202) stated, "when placed in a situation that threatens to excite their own unwanted homosexual thoughts, they over- react with panic or anger." Slaby (1994) contended that anxiety about homosexuality typically does not occur in individuals who are same-sex Oriented, but it usually involves individuals who are ostensibly heterosexual and have difficulty integrating their homosexual feelings or activity. The relationship between homophobia and latent homosexuality has not been empirically investigated and is one of the purposes of the present study.
  • The results of this study indicate that individuals who score in the homophobic range and admit negative affect toward homosexuality demonstrate significant sexual arousal to male homosexual erotic stimuli. These individuals were selected on the basis of their report of having only heterosexual arousal and experiences. Furthermore, their ratings of erection and arousal to homosexual stimuli were low and not significantly different from nonhomophobic men who demonstrated no significant in- crease in penile response to homosexual stimuli. These data are consistent with response discordance where verbal judgments are not consistent with physiological reactivity, as in the case of homophobic individuals viewing homosexual stimuli. Lang (1994) has noted that the most dramatic response discordance occurs with reports of feeling and physiologic responses. An- other possible explanation is found in various psychoanalytic theories, which have generally explained homophobia as a threat to an individual's own homosexual impulses causing repression, denial, or reaction formation (or all three; West, 1977). Generally, these varied explanations conceive of homo- phobia as one type of latent homosexuality where persons either are unaware of or deny their homosexual urges. These data are consistent with these notions.
    Another explanation of these data is found in Barlow, Sakheim, and Beck's (1983) theory of the role of anxiety and attention in sexual responding. It is possible that viewing homosexual stimuli causes negative emotions such as anxiety in homo- phobic men but not in nonhomophobic men. Because anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory would predict increases in erection in homophobic men. Furthermore, it would indicate that a response to homosexual stimuli is a function of the threat condition rather than sexual arousal per se. Whereas difficulties of objectively evaluating psychoanalytic hypotheses are well-documented, these approaches would predict that sexual arousal is an intrinsic response to homosexual stimuli, whereas Barlow's (1986) theory would predict that sexual arousal to homosexual stimuli by homophobic individuals is a function of anxiety. These competing notions can and should be evaluated by future research.

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  • Homophobia is gay.
    • Anonymous, quoted in: Paul Baker (2006), Public Discourses of Gay Men. p. 1
  • ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE MARCH 31, 2005 edition of the New York Times, the editors ran an extraordinary photograph well above the fold and directly below the masthead. It showed a group of religious leaders meeting in Jerusalem the previous day: three Islamic muftis, a Sufi shiek, a Roman Catholic prelate, a Greek Orthodox and an Armenian patriarch, the Ashenazi chief rabbi, and the Sephardic chief rabbi. The purpose of their meeting? A long-overdue interfaith condemnation of religious violence in the Mideast? A call for the Israeli government to forswear the destruction of Palestinian homes in exchange for a pledge to discourage suicide bombers? A resolution against religious bigotry or an entreaty to end the maddening cycle of violence? Perhaps a summit to discuss the war in Iraq? Or the racially, religiously, and politically divisive effects of a huge wall that the Israeli government had been constructing to separate Jews from Palestinians?
    No. The religious leaders had gathered in Jerusalem to issue a joint statement of condemnation for a planned gay-pride festival in Jerusalem.
  • I repeat my belief: Homosexuals do not suffer discrimination when they keep their perversions in the privacy of their homes. They can hold any job, transact any business, join any organization- so long as they do not flaunt their homosexuality and try to establish role models for the impressionable young people- our children. I will continue to fight the attempts of Metro, and the attempts of a few Congressmen who on February 2 presented a similar type of bill in the Congress of the United States to legitimize homosexuality. Homosexuals cannot reproduce- so they must recruit. And to freshen their ranks, they must recruit the youth of America. I shall continue to fight against that recruitment. Those who do not share my conviction may continue to blacklist my talent- but with God's help, they can never blacken my name.
    • Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (1977), p. 62

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  • None of my friends are homophobic. I’ve never had a negative response from Will & Grace... and I’ve never hesitated about anything artistic. This is 2008, you know? Things are different now... or, at least they should be. We’re all God’s children. Enough already with homophobic people... they just don’t get it.
  • Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
  • The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
  • Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
  • The lack of multiple references doesn't disturb the person who has a sense of theological realism. Such a person is aware that the Bible could hardly be more explicit in its condemnation of homosexual behavior (e.g. Romans 1:26-32), but those who want to justify homosexual behavior simply dismiss the biblical texts as not relevant to today or interpret St. Paul to mean "promiscuous" sodomy although St. Paul makes no such distinctions. Even if the Bible were filled with explicit condemnations of abortion, sterilization, and contraception, the same approach would be used on such texts by those who wished to justify such behavior as compatible with biblical Christianity.
    Thus it is the belief of the Roman Catholic faith and of many other Christians that Jesus did not leave us with only a book subject to everyone's personal and sometimes contradictory interpretations but also established His Church as an authoritative teacher guided by the Holy Spirit. The constant teaching by the Church on a matter of faith and morals is called Tradition.

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  • There can be little doubt that, as far as they thought of the matter at all, Marx and Engels were personally homophobic, as shown by an acerbic 1869 exchange of letters on Jean-Baptiste von Schweitzer, a German socialist rival. Schweitzer had been arrested in a park on a morals charge and not only did Marx and Engels refuse to join a committee defending him, they resorted to the cheapest form of bathroom humor in their private comments about the affair.
  • As early as the 1920s leaders of Western Communist parties began to float the idea that the public discussion of homosexuality, and the seeming increase in homosexual activity, resulted from the decadence of capitalism in its death throes. Homosexuality was to disappear in the healthy new society of the future.

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  • I actually got a Ugandan Minister to say, on camera— he's the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, it's the only such ministry in the world— and I said to him, "Look, even if these three utterly false supports on which you base your homophobia are true, which they aren't, there's so much more to worry about in your country than the odd gay person going to bed with the other gay person. For example, you have almost an epidemic of child rape in this country, which is just frightening."
    And he said, "Ah, but it is the right kind of child rape."
    I said, "That was on camera. Do you know that was on camera?"
    He said, "Yes."
    I said, "Can you just explain what you meant?"
    "Well, it is men raping girls. Which is natural."
    • Stephen Fry The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, 2013-05-22 ; Recounting an exchange with Ugandan Minister Simon Lokodo.

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  • In the eyes of Castro and his revolutionary comrade Che Guevara — who frequently referred to gay men as maricones, “faggots” — homosexuality was inherently counterrevolutionary, a bourgeois decadence.
    • James Kirchick, Fidel Castro's Horrific Record on Gay Rights, The Daily Beast, (27 November 2016).
  • Openly homosexual people were prevented from joining the Communist Party and fired from their jobs. One of the country’s most distinguished writers, Reinaldo Arenas, recounted the prison experience he and countless other gay men endured in his memoir Before Night Falls. “It was a sweltering place without a bathroom,” he wrote. “Gays were not treated like human beings, they were treated like beasts. They were the last ones to come out for meals, so we saw them walk by, and the most insignificant incident was an excuse to beat them mercilessly.”
    • James Kirchick, Fidel Castro's Horrific Record on Gay Rights, The Daily Beast, (27 November 2016).

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  • In school, perhaps more than at home (which is why parents are sometimes appalled when they catch their kids unawares among their friends), both masculinity and femininity are narrow balancing beams, easy to tumble off. Girls must appear amenable to sex but not too amenable. If a girl is standoffish or proud, she is a "bitch." But if she talks too dirty or behaves too lasciviously, she's a "slut" or a "ho." A boy who does the latter is admired as a "player." If he does the latter toward girls, that is. Because if a boy is shy or insufficiently enthusiastic about, say, discussing the size of a classmate's breasts, he can find himself ostracized as a "faggot." Masculinity is policed chiefly by boys against other boys, and homophobia is its billy club.
  • "Anything that is feminine, boys learn to reject- sensitivity, empathy, vulnerability," said Deborah Rakowsky, a guidance counselor in a suburban middle school. But this is not just a phenomenon of lockstep suburban conformity. Carol Kapuscik, the mother of a seventeen-year-old male skateboarding fanatic named Max, described how her son participated in casual gay-bashing, even though he had grown up in the sexually iconoclastic Lower East Side of New York, with many gay and lesbian family friends and neighbors (the waitresses at the corner restaurant are drag queens). "Everything they denigrate is 'faggot,'" said Carol. "That's a 'faggot' movie, 'faggot' pants, a 'faggot' video game. I've even heard them refer to certain foods as 'faggot.'" She did not think her son uses the term against other boys but said, "Even though they throw the word around like it was nothing, when a kid is called a faggot, it really has the power to sting." No wonder few gay or lesbian kids have the wherewithal to be "out" in junior high school or high school. As a straight boy who graduated from high school in rural Vermont told me, "Everybody called everybody 'faggot' or 'queer.' But there were no gay people at school." I imagine his second observation was wrong.
  • One of Feinstein's main exercises in the classroom is the open expression of caring for friends- what she calls "put-ups," the antonym of "put-downs." Homophobia stands foursquare in the way of boys' showing their affection to each other. But she persists, and the put-ups get closer to their intended mark. "At first, the boys will think and think and say something like, 'You play sports good.'" Eventually though, they begin to use the exercise not only to assess another person positively but also to acknowledge a relationship. "More and more, they'll say things like 'You've helped me with math. You've been a good friend.'" Feinstein thinks the homophobic restraints on masculine affection might also thwart boys' playfulness and tenderness in heterosexual sex- and that learning to express closeness openly could do the opposite.

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  • Our love of lockstep is our greatest curse, the source of all that bedevils us. It is the source of homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, terrorism, bigotry of every variety and hue, because it tells us there is one right way to do things, to look, to behave, to feel, when the only right way is to feel your heart hammering inside you and to listen to what its timpani is saying.

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  • Our considerations here may shed further light on the question of whether one can validly speak about a same-sex 'marriage'.
    Our endeavor is to offer an anthropological analysis of the conjugal act by means of which spouses uniquely express their mutual self-giving. We are dealing with one of the most profound realities of human life. Our arguments have been human, not theological, because we consider that clear human thinking, if it probes sincerely and deeply enough, can of itself (without any recourse to theology) show how contraceptive sexual intercourse is not marital intercourse at all, has no power to signify spousal union, but rather contradicts it.
    Contraceptive intercourse in heterosexual marriage 'denies the truth' of conjugal love through a radical falsification of the very act which should give the fullest bodily expression to that love. The reasoning we have followed underlines the human hollowness of the idea of a "homosexual marriage". Homosexual acts can appease physical desire; but they can never - even remotely - signify the self-giving of two persons. Nor can they effect their union; the two are simply not made "one flesh". Homosexual acts are an exercise in emptiness, satisfying individual passion but leaving the persons as separate as before; nothing in the act unites them.
    Only a dualistic culture that chooses to see no natural and intrinsic connection between body and soul could wish to dub a homosexual relationship as a marriage.
  • St. Paul, describing the moral condition of the Gentiles, names homosexual relations among the most «vile affections» and «fornications» defiling the human body: «Their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise the men, leaving the natural use of women, burned in their lust one towards another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet» (Rom. 1:26-27). «Be not deceived: neither effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind… shall inherit the kingdom of God», wrote the apostle to the people of corrupted Corinth (1 Cor. 6:9-10). The patristic tradition equally clearly and definitely denounces any manifestation of homosexuality. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, the works of Sts Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa and Blessed Augustine and the canon of St. John the Faster — all express the unchangeable teaching of the Church that homosexual relations are sinful and should be condemned. People involved in them have not right to be members of the clergy (Gregory the Great, Canon 7; Gregory of Nyssa, Canon 4; John the Faster, Canon 30). Addressing those who stained themselves with the sin of sodomy, the St. Maxim the Greek made this appeal: «See at yourselves, damned ones, what a foul pleasure you indulge in! Try to give up as soon as possible this most nasty and stinking pleasure of yours, to hate it and to fulminate eternally those who argue that it is innocent as enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and corrupters of His teaching. Cleanse yourselves of this blight by repentance, ardent tears, alms-giving as much as you can and pure prayer… Hate this unrighteousness with all your heart, so that you may not be sons of damnation and eternal death».
  • The debate on the status of the so-called sexual minorities in contemporary society tends to recognise homosexuality not as a sexual perversion but only one of the «sexual orientations» which have the equal right to public manifestation and respect. It is also argued that the homosexual drive is caused by the individual inborn predisposition. The Orthodox Church proceeds from the invariable conviction that the divinely established marital union of man and woman cannot be compared to the perverted manifestations of sexuality. She believes homosexuality to be a sinful distortion of human nature, which is overcome by spiritual effort leading to the healing and personal growth of the individual. Homosexual desires, just as other passions torturing fallen man, are healed by the Sacraments, prayer, fasting, repentance, reading of Holy Scriptures and patristic writings, as well as Christian fellowship with believers who are ready to give spiritual support.
    While treating people with homosexual inclinations with pastoral responsibility, the Church is resolutely against the attempts to present this sinful tendency as a «norm» and even something to be proud of and emulate. This is why the Church denounces any propaganda of homosexuality. Without denying anybody the fundamental rights to life, respect for personal dignity and participation in public affairs, the Church, however, believes that those who propagate the homosexual way of life should not be admitted to educational and other work with children and youth, nor to occupy superior posts in the army and reformatories.

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This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that "animosity" toward homosexuality, ante, at 634, is evil. I vigorously dissent.

    • Antonin Scalia, author of the dissenting opinion in Romer v. Evans (decided 20 May, 1996), 517 U.S. 620, 636, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas

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  • Homophobic violence...and homophobia in general might also be ways of adjudicating the anxiety aroused in heterosexual men by their own penetrability. If a potential for passive anal pleasure is denied, its denial can be acted out as violence against or contempt for, those who are interpreted as wishing to either experience such pleasure themselves, or to 'impose' it on another. In this sense the repression or elision of anal eroticism in heterosexual men can be seen to work not only along the lines of the masculine/feminine divide, but also along the homosexual/heterosexual divide.
    • Catherine Waldby (1995). "Destruction: Boundary Erotics and the Refiguration of the Heterosexual Male Body", Sexy Bodies, p. 272-73. Eds. Grosz and Probyn.

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