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Is Homophobia Rooted In Fear Of Losing The Perception Of Being Straight?

A piece from Blunderbuss editor Zach Howe was published on Slate earlier this week and its making its way through the interwebs.

The piece, provocatively titled, "Why Straight Men Are Right To Be Afraid Of Homosexuality" tackles what Howe argues is actually behind homophobia.

Here's a short excerpt from Slate:

Clearly, men in America have grown up learning to be scared of gayness. But not only for the reasons we typically think—not only, in the end, because of religion, insecurity about their own sexuality, or a visceral aversion to other men’s penises. The truth is, they’re afraid because heterosexuality is so fragile.

Heterosexuality’s power lies in perception, not physical truth—as long as people think you’re exclusively attracted to the right gender, you’re golden. But perception is a precarious thing; a “zero-tolerance” policy has taught men that the way people think of them can change permanently with one slip, one little kiss or too-intimate friendship. And once lost, it can be nearly impossible to reclaim.

Check out the full article--it's well worth a read and let us know what you think, Instincters!

​Is homophobia rooted in the fear of being perceived as less than straight? 

 

Comments

It may be true that homophobia is fearing the loss of being perceived as straight. But the argument does not explain what is wrong with being perceived as gay/bi or not strictly heterosexual. Is the concern no longer being appealing to women, limiting one's potential to find a suitable mate? Or is it just homophobia; a disdain and intolerance toward homosexuality?

I get understanding where something comes from.  I agree that society treats sexuality wrong, and that homophobia in large part comes from how society treats sexuality.  People decide how much of societies rules they accept.  They choose how much of the socially expected behavior they are going to expect from them selves.  As a butch lesbian I have to navigate this.  My very existence is taboo in many areas, and speaking of my personal life is often grounds for violence that in parts of the world is deemed justifiable.  In my state beating me or raping me for being gay is not a hate crime.  So I have to decide how much I will share, when, and how.  I have chosen to live as if everyone already knew.  I treat homophobes like a scared dog who's likely to attack when in person.  Online I confront them armed with the guard of anonymity, and when in close contact with them I keep my eyes on them at all times and keep a safe distense away to be able to avoid attack.  Because if homophobia is a disease it is rabies.  Unpredictable, mind altering, and likely life threatening to anyone who comes into contact with one infected with it. 

I don't pity them, because they chose to accept the status quo.  I know too many men confident in their sexuality that are not homophobic to believe it was something they couldn't help.  They chose not to question, they chose not to learn.  They chose to comply without doubt. 

Both the authors and the respondents fail to realize how much their "perceptions" are severely influenced and overwhelmingly dictated by their own US western, Judeo-Christian, Protestant-Puritanical, capitalistic beliefs and upbringing. Sexuality and personality are mostly innate: how we express them is governed by social and religious mores. Perhaps for the author, his fear of "perception" may hinder his own development as a man, but, he fails to realize just how much culture influences definitions and those perceptions--just look at how Russian male gymnasts kiss after competing, yet look at the current violent attacks on gays there now. Few think kissing is the issue there--instead, it's the attraction beyond that and the lack of attraction to the opposite gender that causes the confusion and aversion and, ultimately, the violence. Homophobia may be the fear of perception for the author, but for most men worldwide, homophobia is about the fragility of their roles as men as dictated by their culture.

How does capitalism cause homophobia?

How does capitalism cause homophobia?

Perhaps you should answer this considering no such allusion was made in my statement.

"Capitalistic beliefs" right in your comment. Or were you just on a rant using big words you do not know the definition of?

You are mistaken, sir. Please read the complete sentence to understand better the inferences therein contained.  Perhaps you made a simple comprehension mistake...not unlike the mistake made in your ending your response in a preposition. 

Look at Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers and his roommate.  Very close friends, but the rumors about Aaron abound.

Well, just look at our pop culture.  If they have two characters who are male who have a deep friendship, people immediately start to make the assumption that they are gay. 

In the Lord of the Rings Sam and Frodo are two friends who are on a dangerous mission, and who show their friendship outright because this adventure has bonded them on a deep level.  But everyone assumes that because they hug each other, and care for each other, that automatically implies them to in a gay relationship.

In Sherlock Holmes, Watson and Holmes are close friends, who enjoy working together in a weird co-dependent sort of way, admittedly.  But people keep saying they're gay because of that fact, instead of just friends who are exceptionally close.

Batman and Robin are a big example.  They're technically a father/son relationship because Bruce adopts these kids and raises them.  But because it's two males involved, there has been implications for years that these characters are gay.

Straight men are often being shown that two men can not be too close to one another, and still be considered straight.  Any time two men are shown to be closer than "hey bro, you see the game?" people start assuming stuff about them.  They freak out about this because they don't want to be judged.  It may not be a hatred towards gays, but rather a lack of self-esteem about themselves.  And this is rather sad, because it keeps many men from ever being able to have really meaningful friendships with other men.
 

I agree that its perceived as less straight because automatically if you have a really close friendship it means you are gay...

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