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Thursday, 24 June 2010

The need to call out homophobia

One of the many many things about homophobia that make me rage is how readily tolerated it is – and how ready people are to excuse it, defend it and deny it.

It saddens me that I need to repeat this – but, if you think gay people are worth less than straight people, if you think we deserve less than straight people, if you think we don’t have the same value as humans, if you think we aren’t due the same rights, if you think it’s ok to discriminate against us for being gay, if you think hate speech against gays is ok, if you think pushing wide sweeping stereotypes about gays is ok and most certainly if you think there should be any kind of penalty or punishment for being gay then you are a homophobe.

Homophobia. Not just privilege, not just bias, not just ignorance, not just foolishness. It’s homophobia. It’s bigotry. And it’s not even slightly ok. Stop mincing words. Stop dancing for fear you may offend the bigots. Stop twisting in a desperate attempt to RESPECT those who have zero respect for us. Stop minimising hatred because it makes us look angry or extreme – extreme? Is it ‘EXTREME’ to expect to be treated like a person?

If you make excuses for any of this, if you enable any of this, if you try to justify it or distract from it then you are enabling, encouraging, justifying and distracting from homophobia.

This is homophobia. You cannot say “I’m not a homophobe, but gays don’t deserve X, Y, Z right” you can’t say “I’m not a homophobe, but {derogatory gay stereotype}” you cannot say “I’m not a homophobe but {sweeping statement about gay people}”. Saying “I’m not a homophobe” does not make it so.

Do you know what excuses, justifies or mitigates homophobia?

Nothing. Homophobia is treating people as less than a person. As wrong. As broken. As less. It is not justifiable. It is never acceptable. And that includes when you say “I don’t justify homophobia – BUT..” because we’ve seen that so many times, haven’t we? “I’m not a homophobe, BUT…” “what they did was wrong, BUT…” We all know what that means and how much credence we give it. No amount of saying “I don’t justify homophobia…” means a THING if you follow it with “but” and do just that.

Do you know what ‘reason’ or ‘explanation’ for homophobia makes it ok?

None. Not one. Ever.

Not religion, not culture, not the fact people have been the victim of oppression themselves, not the “realities” of politics, not ‘democracy’, not morality, not history – NOTHING makes homophobia ok or anything less than an utterly bad thing. It’s never a ‘difficult’ subject or ‘debateable’ or freaking ‘controversial’ because the hate comes from the pulpit or from a sincere moral code or a particular cultural context. Homophobia is wrong and inexcusable – ALWAYS.

And do you know when gays are to blame for homophobia?

Never. No matter what the gay leadership has done, no matter whether you disagree with priorities, no matter if you think campaigns were bungled, no matter how many personal bad experiences you’ve had, no matter whether you think Pride Parades are icky or you’ve never met a gay person. No matter if the gays haven’t ‘reached out’ to you enough, no matter if the gay folks didn’t talk to you enough – because gods forbid we not spend enough time trying to convince you we’re people due respect! No matter if you hate the stereotypes, no matter if you only dislike “those” gays (whatever ‘those’ means), gay people are never ever to blame for our oppression.

And these lessons need to be learned no matter how basic they should be. Because we haven’t absorbed them and even people who consider themselves progressive and allies are making them. It has got to a point where some forms of homophobia and vessels of homophobia simply CANNOT be discussed because there is such a storm of defending, distracting and desperate desperate attempts at denial that the homophobia can never ever be touched. And this is by people who consider themselves allies.

Even GBLT people are all too willing to accept that it’s our fault, that we should play nice and all too damn willing to accept tokens and gestures and smile because we’ve been conditioned to expect and deserve so little – accept blame that we’re only too willing and ready to take on our shoulders. How many times do we fawn over a statement, a gesture, the crumbs from the table? How many times do we make nice with people who think we’re only unworthy of “some” rights? How many times are we restrained because the bigotry came with a smile? How many times do we try to hold back our anger and our criticism, even to silence other GBLTs? – oh no, we can’t call them homophobes, it may annoy them! It may insult them! It’s so harsh! We’re damaging our cause by being angry at bigotry.

When we are treated as less because we are gay, it is homophobia, it is bigotry and it is wrong. Call it what it is. Homophobia is not our fault. It is not due to anything wrong with us, anything we’ve done, anything we‘ve said. Homophobia is only EVER the fault of the homophobe and nothing we do can change that.. Homophobia is never right, never acceptable and never defensible.

And not only does the world need to learn that – but we need to learn that, because too many of us are eager to make the rods for our own backs.