Silly Word Series: #4 Homophobia

I’ve been debating with myself a while whether or not to do this post. However, with the recent events in Arizona and with the Mozilla CEO “resigning,” I’ve decided that it’s time. I believe the veto of the religious freedom bill by Jan Brewer and the forced resignation of Brendan Eich provides the backdrop needed for this post’s subject. Without further ado…

What it supposedly means:
The hatred of gays just because they’re gay.

Why it’s silly:
With this word, the problem is, in part, how it is used. You see, the only time I’ve ever seen or heard this word used, it is as an insult to people who may or may not disagree with something a gay person has said or done. This word is used to demean anyone who has anything to say that might be contrary to what society says about homosexuals. This word is never used in the way that people might expect: denoting a fear of gays.

Let’s take a look at the second half of the word. Phobia, or an irrational fear of something. Some of you may be thinking, “Yeah, irrational. Of course homophobia is not rational.” However, I’m afraid more than a few may have missed the fear part. Usually, when a word ends in “phobia” that means that the word is a fear of something. For instance, we’ve all heard of arachnophobia, or the fear of arachnids, like spiders. There’s also the irrational fear of long words (which, ironically enough, is an incredibly long word), and that also ends in phobia. The problem with the term homophobia can be explained with a question. I want you to think really hard about this. Have you ever known of a person who has been called homophobic that is actually irrationally afraid of homosexuals?

Because I haven’t. In fact, even if you know such a person, they are probably less than .00001 percent of the population. In fact, I’ve been accused of being homophobic because I oppose gay marriage*. I do not in the least fear homosexuals, rationally or irrational. I don’t know anyone who does. If anything, I’m jealous of them. They are literally the most protected class in the United States.

Consider the case that prompted the religious freedom bill in Arizona. A Christian photographer declined to photograph a gay wedding, and then the courts forced him to go against his own beliefs to cater to the gays’. This is the kind of thing that could happen in almost no other circumstance in this country. If you are a Christian, you cannot force a Jewish bookstore to sell you the New Testament. If you are Jewish, you cannot force an atheist deli to sell you kosher meat. If you are atheist, you cannot (probably) force a Christian sign company to print “God is dead” signs. And yet, somehow, if you are gay, you can force a Christian to bake you a wedding cake, or photograph your wedding, or print you gay pride t-shirts. If I’m being honest, I would tell you that I would love that kind of special protection. However, I’m a lover of the Constitution, and I firmly believe that we all have a right to associate with whoever we feel like.

To recap, “homophobia” is a silly word, because it is used as an insult against people who do not actually irrationally or rationally fear gay people.
         So what do you think? Is homophobia the wrong word here?

*Understand, I don’t oppose equal rights as human beings for gay people. I only oppose gay marriage, and then only for religious reasons. I don’t think the government should be in the marriage business at all. Marriage is a holy ceremony, not a government authorized contract. If you’re interested in learning more about my views, click here. I, along with most Christians, also do not hate gay people. “Hate the sin; love the sinner,” as the saying goes. #TheMoreYouKnow.

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