Homophobia-Phobia: Fear of Homophobes
Despite my claim that many people labeled as homophobic are actually heterosexist,
the number of homophobes in North America is growing. (I can’t describe the situation in other parts of the
world, but I suspect the situation elsewhere is similar.)
I probably over-generalize by lumping North Americans together. The growing hostility toward gays in
Canada is just a distant echo of the thunderclaps emanating from the United States. Canada is built on a
pluralistic model, designed to protect individuals from the tyranny of the majority or of various minorities.
Of course, some Canadians have never fully accepted that basic value. Mexico has related but somewhat
different issues with which to concern itself.
The vendors of hatred, mostly demagogic preachers and politicians, are making a lot of sales among their naive
followers. Most of the buyers of their products are among the least educated and most impoverished
members of society. Of course, those are just the sort of people who are most susceptible to all forms of
scapegoating. It has been the case historically; it is the case today. Only the handy targets have
Despite the volume of their shrill voices, the newly enraged homophobes are a minority. Of course, being a
minority does not make them powerless. Indeed, their social and political power is far greater than their
numbers would suggest.
The power of these people is magnified by the presence among a number of politicians of another phobia: A
fear of homophobes. But, perhaps this is not a phobia at all. Perhaps the politicians’ fears are
entirely rational given the tenacity with which they cling to their posts.
Many people in the United States exercise their votes based upon a single issue. For some, it has been the
right to bear arms. For some it has been abortion. For these newly indoctrinated homophobes, they claim
that it will be extending what they perceive as special rights to gays and lesbians. (They haven’t even begun
to worry about transgenders yet.)
I would love to see some political race in which a pro-abortion, anti-gay rights candidates is pitted against
someone who is against abortion choice but in favor of full equality regardless of sexual orientation. Of
course such a political case study will never occur.
What threatens the gay equality movement in the United States is not the number or the volume of the opponents;
it is the fear among those in power who actually believe in the constitution of not being kept in power
because of their fear of those who have no understanding of what core American founding principles are.
Any intelligent and rational interpreter of the U.S. constitution would recognize that political bodies may not
legislate discrimination against a minority that is abiding by the laws of the land. I recognize that my use
of the terms “intelligent and rational” automatically eliminates at least two justices of our highest court,
Justices Thomas and Roberts. I intend no irony in that exclusion.
So the first stumbling block for extension of full rights of citizenship to gays and lesbians is the trepidation
of politicians who might otherwise be expected to wholeheartedly endorse our position. That is out of our
control only if we allow it to be.
This brings us to the second stumbling block. The LGBT community is rarely united to the point of becoming
one issue voters. On the one hand that speaks well of us, for the world is a complex place in which a number
of variables must be weighed before casting a vote for one candidate over another. However, being thoughtful
makes us less powerful. If we committed to working with our time and money to cast out those who “get it
wrong” on any one vote that impacts a minority defined by sexual orientation, and if we announced our intention
loudly enough, and if we spent enough money in making our announcement…perhaps we might be seen as a powerful
enough force to be feared. Fear, it seems, is a powerful political motivator.
Until we force our political leaders to ignore their homophobia-phobia by feeling an inequality-phobia more
intensely, we shall need to sit around and wait for two or three more generations to pass before we have the same
rights afforded to people who happen to be straight.
I’m not going to live that long, and you probably won’t either.
Our Articles Dealing With Homophobia:
Homophobia Is Really Heterosexism
Fear of Homophobes
A Couple Of Highly Regarded, Relevant Books: