Homophobia and how it has managed to prevail for centuries

Homophobia comes in many forms. “Bro, why are you acting gay?” “Bro, wearing that makes you look gay.” “I’m all for gay rights as long as gay people don’t come on to me.”
We all have heard these sentences at some point in our life. The sad part is that they are often used casually. What’s sadder is that this often goes unspoken against. And not speaking up against this makes you at fault too.

What is homophobia?

It refers to negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality. Or the LGBT community. Homophobia is prejudice, hostility, or hatred. It finds its roots in irrational fear or misinformed beliefs.

Homophobia is observable in hostile behavior. It includes discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation. There are two main, recognized types of homophobia. First, institutionalized, e.g. religious homophobia and state-sponsored homophobia. Second, internalized. It is prevalent in family, peer group or workplace.

Origin of the term ‘Homophobia’

George Weinberg, a psychologist, coined the term ‘homophobia’. It originates from the word, homosexual. ‘Homosexual’ a mix of various notations; phobia from the Greek Phobos meaning “fear”. The word homophobia first appeared in print in an article written in May 1969. The word referred to heterosexual men’s fear that others might think they are gay. The Times (of London) used the word ‘homophobia’ for the first time in 1981.

Causes for its origin and continuity

There are various probable causes of homophobia. For some, the cause may be their cultural or institutional background. On the other hand, some may remain unaware of what caused it in the first place. Some may not even realize that they are homophobic.

Religion

It’s long been the case that religion can be a cause of homophobia. Certain religions teach that homosexual attraction is immoral. Those who ascribe these religions grow up with this understanding. This type of early learning can be difficult to shift or change.

Repressed Desires resulting in Homophobia

Research suggests that homophobic people may have repressed homosexual desires.

Cultural Factors

A 2019 study determined that homophobia varied by the following factors. These include age, ethnicity, geographic area, sex, level of education, religion. Ultimately, this indicates that there are many potential causes of homophobia. And one must consider them while designing awareness campaigns.

Institutional Factors

Many say that competition for power exists. At the same time, they regard homophobia as one form of oppression. In other words, the dominant group does not wish to give up their privilege. As a result, they create social norms that state what is acceptable and what is not.

The impact on the LGBTQ+ community

  • Internalized shame and repression of their sexual orientation.
  • Denying their sexual orientation.
  • Being the victims of oppression, discrimination, and abuse.
  • Depression and an increased risk of suicide (especially in younger people).
  • Increased stress and lack of social support.
  • Rejection from family, friends, or co-workers.
  • Difficulty obtaining proper health coverage and quality services.
  • Inability to marry, depending on the law.
  • Negative impact on income and employment.
  • Lack of laws for the protection of their rights.

You could be a victim of homophobia. Or you could be concerned about how it affects others. Either way, there are actions that you can take to improve the situation. Change can happen though it may take longer than one would like. After all, every step toward acceptance means one step away from inequality.
You need to commit to being a part of the solution. Then you will see how even the smallest act makes a difference.

Everyone has different morals while growing up. One needs to question the status quo. That reflects a high level of understanding. Furthermore, everyone deserves to live their lives free of fear. Homophobia stands in the way for many to do something as simple as that. The first step toward change is to realize and acknowledge this.

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