Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Do We Need to Rethink the 'Homophobic' Label?

Very interesting piece. Should we show some empathy and a little bit of understanding towards the people we'd label "homophobic?" Are these misguided folks "homo naive" or plain and simple "homo haters?"

via HuffPo, by Loren A. Olsen

While I was working on my book, "Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight," I received a very angry email about my being gay from a man named "George." I challenged the things he said about me, responding, "You don't know me."

George wrote back, "Oh, but I do know you. You have identified yourself as a homosexual, an immoralist. Nothing binds your conscience. Morality is just a matter of taste."

The best way to confront such prejudice is usually to become a real person to the other person and develop a relationship with them. I made some attempts to find some area of common ground. George could never respond to anything I wrote back to him other than to condemn me.

Some would say George is homophobic. I am not a fan of the word "homophobia." Gay men and women struggled for years and years to free ourselves from being diagnosed as pathological deviants. I see little value in attempting to pathologize those who oppose us by labeling them all homophobic.

Prejudice is based on the "Law of Small Numbers": What is true for one must be true for all. Like George, the rules of "in-groups" and "out-groups" dictate that those on one side attempt to define those on the other by applying stereotypical descriptions while never seeking information that dis-confirms their beliefs.

Do we as gay men and women move discourse forward by labeling those who oppose us "homophobes"?

Read the rest.

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