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Soft as a Hammer, Hard as a Feather: Homophobia In Its Many Forms and How We Can Fight It

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“I’m not homophobic, because I’m not SCARED of gay people.


This statement is usually said by…a homophobe.


There’s a lot of confusion among the straights about the actual meaning of the word “homophobic.” They see the term “phobic” and assume that the root of the action in that word is (to have) FEAR.


Homophobia can be loud and obnoxious like the Westboro Baptist church picketing the funeral of a queer person or it can be as soft and subtle as your mother trying to set her daughter up for the 9th time with a man from her church whose fade isn’t nearly as fresh as her daughter’s.


In honor of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (May 17) let’s dig a little deeper into what the word actually means:

“having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against homosexual (or queer) people).” You can also…be afraid of what they represent or stand for. Fear can manifest as dislike or prejudice. Fear can manifest as hate. You know what I’m not afraid of? Babies. I’m not afraid of babies, so I don’t hit them, or yell at them when I see them randomly on the street or try to push forth legislation that restricts the introduction of more babies into our society.


People who are against homosexuals fight against the things that represent a change or challenge to the status quo or heterosexual hegemony. They see us a threat to their power and dominance in a straight privileged world.


To be clear, when I say threat I mean it in every sense of the word. I have been gay bashed twice in my life. I know I was attacked for being gay because when I was being pummeled by adult men they hurled gay slurs at me with the same intensity as they hurled their fists. Each time I was bashed I appeared masculine of center which is clearly a threat to the status quo of the patriarchy.


If women are dressing like men, THEN WHAT OH WHAT WILL THE MEN DRESS LIKE?!


I’m assuming also, if women dress like men then HOW will the men know JUST who to…sexually harass? I’ll get back to you on the specific logic if I can actually pin it down.


Additionally, violence and fear can very much manifest as restrictive legislation, the denial of civil rights, and the obstruction of sustainable employment. These are all ways in which our oppressors (and make no mistake the heterosexual majority is still very much in the conscious and unconscious business of oppressing us) seek to keep us stuck as second-class citizens.


We are currently faced with new regressive laws that allow doctors to deny us treatment based on how we present, or our sexuality. We can be fired based on these same attributes, and we can be denied a myriad of housing and welfare benefits based on the same homophobic logic.


Whether you realize it or not there are gay people all around you and they are watching how you act and react to their fight for basic human rights.


Homophobia can be loud and obnoxious like the Westboro Baptist church picketing the funeral of a queer person or it can be as soft and subtle as your mother trying to set her daughter up for the 9th time with a man from her church whose fade isn’t nearly as fresh as her daughter’s.


Homophobia looks like, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” when the “sin” makes up the core of who the “sinner” is. I fall in love with women. I am very much in love with a woman, and that love sustains and enriches my life. I want to have babies with her and build a big gay life with her that is full of tolerance and revolution.


That’s not something you can just chose to ignore and love me in spite of. If you don’t love the revolutionary parts of my love, then you certainly can’t love me.


I get that it’s hard, in the face of socialization and the promise of an eternity of fire and doom, to unlearn toxic rhetoric to see the truth. Just as you could not choose to be straight, queer people can’t choose to be anything else than we are. These are the messages we must be vigilant in delivering to our friends and loved ones. Without it they will continue to make life hard for us and the generations that follow us.


What is even more devastating is that we in the LGBTQ community are not exempt from the subtle, and not so subtle, remnants of homophobia. It’s not as if we sprung from some gay cabbage patch fully formed tossing glitter in the air wearing rainbow diapers and quoting Oscar Wilde. WE have issues with masculinity, femininity, public displays of affection, the idea of mainstream assimilation, marriage, children, and whether or not we are actually in fact doomed to a life of damnation because your mega pastor with a jet told us we were going to hell. We must stand up to all forms of homophobia and in doing so stand up for ourselves and show the world that we know we matter and we aren’t afraid to show it.

Chris Coakley

Chris Coakley is a walking talking super nova. She’s a poet, a womanist, an activist, and quite possibly the biggest lesbian you’ll ever meet in your entire life. She’s allergic to toxic masculinity and cats. She’s an anxious dreamer in love with big sweet words and the power they wield. An attorney and writer from Chicago, Illinois she is passionate about advocating for the less fortunate and is committed to improving her community one case at a time. Chris believes that the best way to change the world is to change the people around you, so she educates her community on the dangers of unchecked patriarchy and offers sustainable feminist solutions for how we can create a more equal society. In her free time, she helps organizations that address the needs of the LGBTQ and underprivileged communities with legal issues. Chris can be found on Twitter @ChrisHCoakley and Instagram @alphaqueer.

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