Homophobia based on seeming gay makes the world a more dangerous place for every person, however one identifies. Read More
It's something that's very real, and some people just don't understand it. I still remember that the father of a friend of mine made a comment about gay men that really made me not respect him as much. He said that "Yes, [he's] against homosexuality, but doesn't have a problem with gays unless they act like women," and he proceeded to say something to the effect that those type of gay men summon enough frustration in him that he feels like he wants to punch them.
I've always known that I've had it easier than many gay men because of "masculine" privilege. The only reason why I put masculine in quotes is because I'm honestly more of neutral presence in terms of my stereotypically masculinity and femininity as established by US society. To be atypical in heterosexual gender expression is such a threat and discomfort to many people, even other gay people. I have heard other gay men rag on effeminate gay guys, even though some of them could be considered effeminate enough for violent anti-gay individuals to beat them up. I am fully aware that the reason almost all of my friends have no major issue with me being gay is that I don't act effeminately, as was demonstrated by one high school friend a few years ago. He called this other gay guy in our grade a faggot in my presence. He immediately turned to me and told me that he didn't mean any harm to me because I don't "act like a fag" (read: it's not okay for me to call you a fag because you are not a guy who acts like a girl). I was pretty floored that I got that explanation as to why he used a word he knew I was not comfortable hearing around. It wasn't even the "fag is now mostly used to call someone stupid" defense; it was a whitewashing of my sexual orientation in order to use a word I find highly offensive in my presence, a word I would expect a friend of mine to avoid using or at least monitor their use of it around me (I make the distinction because I did have a friend who dropped the word around me in it's more colloquial form once but apologized for letting it slip).
It's just absurd how many of these people who feel compelled to attack us physically and legally would honestly want us to sit down, be quiet, and go back home as they dictate how we should act.
We'll told, Mark. Your words do a great service to our community and to all.
Great read, puts my thoughts into words exactly.
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Mark O’Connell, L.C.S.W., is a psychotherapist and author of Modern Brides and Modern Grooms. He has also witten for the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
When and how should we open up to loved ones?