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.