THEY’RE NOT HOMOPHOBES, THEY’RE JUST ASSHOLES
FYI: This is one writer’s opinion. Heaps Gay is a space that allows for diversity of thought–something we believe passionately in.
The Google definition of homophobia is ‘any action, attitude, or behaviour that discriminates against or unfairly limits same-sex attracted people because of their sexuality.’ I don’t agree with this. Fuck Google. Homophobia is a phobia, and it should stick to that definition.
I was always confused with the overarching definition of homophobia. I remember posting a status on Facebook saying homework is gay (or something like that), and someone called me homophobic because of it. I told them I wasn’t homophobic; I just didn’t like homework. I knew then, and I still know now, that I’m not a homophobe for doing it. Making a faux-pas doesn’t equate to hating the gays.
Take, for example, Katy Perry’s completely terrible and pretty gross song ‘Ur So Gay’, which is a tirade of pretty offensive comments about gay dudes. But she isn’t repulsed by gay people. She was just a young pop chick trying to write an edgy song with edgy lyrics – it isn’t even about a gay guy. It was just an ignorant dick move by a stupid pseudo-diva.
I acknowledge that the word is hurtful – I was a victim of the ‘g word’, too. I cried when I got called gay. I cried in art class as well for being called a pot plant (I was a sensitive kid), and again for being called a nerd. They weren’t afraid or threatened by me; they just picked on me like they picked on the kid with glasses and braces. I was a skinny, kinda creepy, weedy, unfashionable child that carried plaster casts of my teeth in my pencil case and wrote my notes with a quill. I’d bully me. In hindsight I got off pretty lightly; the guy with glasses and braces got his hair set alight on the bus home. And he’s straight!
The fact that I ended up actually being gay was a non-issue to them. When I came out they just said ‘woah, really? Okay cool’ and went back to the kid with braces and glasses until he upped his game and got some trendier frames. I completely acknowledge that they were cunts. They were kids on a power trip, but there was no ulterior motive. I was just another kid, not some victim of a cruel, anti-homo, straight regime.
People with arachnophobia don’t tease spiders – they cry when they see one and hit it with a newspaper ‘til it bleeds goo and stops moving. And that’s how a lot of gay people get treated by genuine homophobes. It’s undoubtedly a little more complicated than this, but I have a word limit here. Basically, homophobia isn’t a pathological phobia – there’s nothing medically wrong with them. It isn’t some kooky unexplainable quirk from childhood. It’s more serious than that. Homophobia is like being raised in an arachnophobic world, where you are told that spiders are wrong, disease-ridden abominations that need to be fixed or destroyed or you will TURN INTO A SPIDER and PROBABLY GET AIDS. It is less to do with fear and anxiety, and more with an inherited social disgust and repulsion.
I remember this clip I saw showing a gay dude in Africa getting stoned, then burnt alive. The people in his village threw wood onto his burning, living body to keep him down and to fuel the fire. I watched him die. It wasn’t just because he was different, but also because he was wrong or perceived evil. They did it because they were afraid of him and believed he cursed their village while occasionally shape-shifting into a goat.
Personally, I haven’t experienced death by immolation, and I have never been accused of being a goat, but this isn’t to say I haven’t had a homophobic experience. I’ve had a few horrifying ‘I’m gonna die’ moments around older straight dudes who felt genuinely threatened by me. They saw me as a legitimate threat. They were willing to launch a pre-emptive strike. I don’t get these experiences very often, but when they happen I can tell. It’s easy to feel the difference between some mediocre high-school name calling and that intense, animalistic, violence. You can hear the disgust, the hatred. It’s a phobia – It’s homophobia. I was on the train last week and two young chicks were horrified to be around me, looking over at me like I was wearing nothing but an edible swastika on each nip and some third Reich lingerie. Something they said stuck with me:
“He can’t understand us. He’s a fucking alien. He’s not even part of this fucking species.”
This is definitive of homophobia.
It was the first time in a while that I’ve experienced homophobia. It gives you this feeling, urging you to slip your house keys between your fingers as some sort of a makeshift weapon; the moment when you wonder what picture they’ll use on the news to report your death. Homophobia is what makes you think of your eulogies, your epitaph. It’s when you look into someone’s eyes and see that they do not understand you, and hate you for it. You’re not just a joke to them; you’re an object that needs to be fixed, removed or destroyed. It’s an incomparable sensation. I see it when I look at the Westboro Baptist Church, or videos of Russian gay-hunters, or videos of the unluckier kids in their own respective high schools who were seriously hurt or killed because they were a sin.
And it’s those experiences that make me so angry when people accuse me of being homophobic. I do not harbour any self-hate for who I am, or hate for the people around me. I was not raised in an environment of fear and hate. I feel that sometimes I have lost the right to criticise, or even mock, gay dudes that are complete dicks. Sure, sometimes I’m immature and rude like those jocks in high school. But, like them, I am not afraid or against gay dudes. Sometimes I’m just a turd, too.
Maybe there should be some kind of tier system to explain it; ranging from ‘awkward yet loving relative’, to ‘Mr. G’, to ‘mumbling right wing neighbour’, then finally to good ol’ ‘homophobia’. Because sometimes it’s just not homophobia. I wish there was some other word for what people do. Something fancy and limp-dick-esque like ‘homo-insensitivity’, or something more vernacular, a-la sexist, like ‘homoism’. Because through describing relatively tame reactions as homophobia I feel like we’ve homogenised the term through over-use. I acknowledge that sometimes I, and others, can take it too far and take a step into the realm of dickhead. But I think that calling it homophobia just cheapens the word, and cheapens the genuine homophobic experiences people have.
All I’m trying to say is that calling your homework gay isn’t homophobic, but being killed for being gay is.