The other night as I was in line at the register in the dining hall, I overheard a conversation between two people behind me. I wasn’t paying much attention to them or any of the other hundred people talking within 50 feet of me until something caught my attention. I heard one of the girls behind me refer to herself as “homophobic” in a half-joking manner. I immediately thought, “What the hell?” and whipped my head around, probably a little too fast, to see who was speaking.
Is that word socially acceptable? To me it just seemed like such an odd thing to casually say. I mean, in the girl’s defense she was probably kidding. Hopefully. But nonetheless this incident really got me thinking about that word, and I realized just how truly ridiculous it is. Webster’s dictionary defines “homophobia” as an “irrational fear of, aversion to or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.” But come on, is anybody actually afraid of gay people, or is it just that they don’t like them and don’t want to sound like a jerk?
It seems like most of our lives we are taught to respect each other’s differences of opinion. That sounds nice and probably perfectly relevant in most cases. But realistically speaking, aren’t there some opinions that just don’t deserve respect? Can you imagine if I was talking among a group of people and just happened to say, “Yeah I’m racist but it’s not a big deal” and laugh about it? Would I expect people to say, “You know, I disagree but it’s okay, I don’t judge you for having a different opinion than mine?”
Yeah, right. I would be out of my mind to expect such a response. So then, why do people feel it’s okay to be openly “homophobic?”
The amount of openly anti-gay sentiment still tossed around today is insane.
It was less than 60 years ago that African American children couldn’t go to the same school as whites. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone even making an argument for segregation today because it’s just seen as completely absurd and racist. But the same thing is happening now in many states with gay couples trying to sanctify their relationships just like straight couples already can.
What’s the difference? There is none. There is a striking similarity between saying that black schools were the same quality as white ones and saying civil unions are the same as marriage because really, if they were the same, why bother to separate them at all?
It’s a pathetic argument made by the same breed of people in two different generations. As kids of the ’90s, we read from textbooks that paint segregationists as the bad guys. I’d be willing to bet that anything written in the history books of the future will portray those who picket gay marriages in the same light. George Clooney once said, “At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”
So is a so-called “fear” of gay people any different than just being a bigot? If I said I was “Negrophobic” or “Judeophobic” or “Hispanophobic,” would anyone take me seriously? Of course not. Are these even real words, or just false Wiki entries?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never heard anyone say any of those terms. In fact, my spell check even underlined them. The point I’m trying to make here is that bigotry is bigotry no matter toward whom it’s directed, and the only factor that determines whether someone’s hatred is acceptable or absolutely absurd is the year he or she lives in.