Homophobia, what relevance does it have in our present, progressive society?
Like homosexuality, amongst many other things, our society likes taking things at face value. Things it cannot understand, are quickly stigmatised and dismissed. However, by discussing homosexuality, and normalising its existence, we might be progressing towards a world where homophobia is considered “abnormal”.
Although the world was well acquainted with the existence of homosexuality since ancient Greek times, it has always been a topic people are afraid to have open discussions about.
The term homophobia, was coined by George Weinberg, a psychologist, in the 1960s. Weinberg’s term became an important tool for LGBTQ+ rights activists, he describes the term as a medical phobia. He said, “it was the fear of contagion, fear of reducing things one fought for (like a home and a family). It was this religious fear that led to brutality, like fear often does.”
The term can also be associated with the anxiety of heterosexuals of being identified as gay, usually in boys. This leads to random outbursts of violence to assert their masculinity. On the contrary even this notion is quickly changing, people are free to express themselves in any way they choose, an attitude that was seen as “gay” in the 50s.
So how relevant is it to speak about homophobia now? On the surface it may seem like society has progressed from such a backward train of thought, but homophobia is now deep seated into society. One may not be homophobic openly, but will be uncomfortable if homosexuality is discussed, and will even have an aversion to their open existence. It may even seem as though only people from older generations nurture such ideas, people adopt such an aversion to homosexuality in their teenage years.
Teenage boys still find it necessary to assert their masculinity, and teenage girls also conform to feminine ideals. Not because they want to, but because society will be quick to label them as abnormal if they don’t conform to societal ideals. “You’re looking so gay in that t-shirt”, with gay often being used as a derogatory slang term. That is also homophobic, not as extreme as holding up posters at an ‘anti gay’ march, but something that will always keep homophobia prevalent in our society. People also seem to say “aren’t you being over sensitive, it was just a joke.” It’s sad and pathetic to ignore the struggles of a community, and make jokes at its expense.
Talking from personal experience, I’ve heard people I know try to rationalise the existence of homophobia in the modern ‘progressive’ society by saying “Being gay is not normal, evolution doesn’t allow it, it’s so disgusting.” Not from someone of an older generation, but people born in progressive societies of today (age doesn’t justify homophobia, but it is harder for them to change if they’ve been told all their life that something is wrong, it may take longer for them to not be averted to the idea).
Besides this, homophobes have plagued the internet with their acrid statements about the way in which the world is progressing.
How can you help? How can you change? Donating, and educating yourself on the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community is an obvious start, but changing your mind set and everyday speech is another. It may seem like a small insignificant change, but it’ll eventually make other people stop normalising homophobia. Understand, that there may be someone closeted, terrified to come out because of the blatant and harsh statements made against homosexuality.
Love is Love, while the society progresses itself towards change and harmony don’t shelter yourself from a new ideology.
Happy Pride Month! <3
Written by Triya Ghosh
Graphics by Astha Deep