First off, before I start I would like to point you all to a fantastic entry
by Gato on the problem with the redefining of homophobia.
Let’s face it, homophobia can be really damaging for LGBT youths and even for people who identify as straight. Intolerance hurts everyone. Even if you think you are right in terms of using religion. To tell someone that you don’t accept a part of them means so much more to that person, it means you don’t accept them.
There has been a lot of homophobic bullying in the world and it leads to a lot of tragedy. Intolerance accounts for the reason so many LGBT youths are homeless and it is a leading cause as to why LGBT youths have one of the highest rates of suicide. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center synthesized these studies and estimated that between 30 and 40% of LGBT youth, depending on age and sex groups, have attempted suicide. That is an alarmingly high amount of youths considering that the rate in the general population is around 1-2%.
Even such phrases as, “That’s so gay!” are proven to be harmful towards LGBT youths. Just recently there was a study on the effects of the phrase conducted by the University of Michigan. Those who heard it more frequently were more likely to report feelings of isolation, as well as negative health symptoms, such as headaches, poor appetite, or eating problems.
Study author Michael Woodford, assistant professor of social work at U-M, describes the results:
“Given the nature of gay-lesbian-bisexual stigma, sexual minority students could already perceive themselves to be excluded on campus and hearing “that’s so gay” may elevate such perceptions. “That’s so gay” conveys that there is something wrong with being gay. And, hearing such messages about one’s self can cause stress, which can manifest in headaches and other health concerns.”
Clearly even simple phrases can be so hurtful. I ask you, please think before you speak. Or type as is the case on BZPower.Homophobia Hurts All of Us
(The following list has been adapted from Warren J. Blumenfeld, ed. Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price.)
Within the numerous forms of oppression, members of the target group (minority groups) are oppressed, while on some level members of the dominant group are hurt. Although the effects of the oppression differ qualitatively for specific target and dominant groups, in the end everyone loses.
1. Homophobia locks all people into rigid gender roles that inhibit creativity and self-expression.
2. Homophobia compromises the integrity of heterosexual people by pressuring them to treat others badly, actions that go against our basic humanity.
3. Homophobia limits our ability to form close relationships with members of one’s own sex.
4. Homophobia generally limits communications with a significant portion of the population and, more specifically, limits family relationships.
5. Homophobia prevents some lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from developing an honest self-identity, and adds to the pressure to marry and/or have children, which places undue stress on themselves and their families.
6. Homophobia results in the elimination of any discussion of the lives and sexuality of LGBT people in the curriculum, keeping important information from all students.
7. Homophobia can be used to stigmatize, silence, and, on occasion, target people who are perceived or defined by others as lesbian or gay, but who are, in actuality, heterosexual.
8. Homophobia prevents heterosexuals from accepting the benefits and gifts offered by LGBT people: theoretical insights, social and spiritual visions, contributions in the arts and culture, to religion, to family life, indeed, to all parts of society.
9. Homophobia (along with racism, sexism, classism, etc.) inhibits a unified and effective governmental and societal response to HIV transmission and AIDS.
10. Homophobia takes energy away from more positive activities.
11. Homophobia inhibits appreciation of other types of diversity, making it unsafe for everyone because each person has unique traits not considered mainstream or dominant. Therefore, we are all hurt when any one of us is disrespected.
(End list, back to Kohaku’s ranting.)
Why did I choose to add this list? Honestly, in its current form, I can’t really see a way to improve upon this list. It shows the ways that homophobia hurts everyone. It hurts me, it hurts you, it hurts your best friend. It just plain hurts.
Now, I’m going to tell a bit of a story that I haven’t told anyone. Ever. I’ll keep it short and to the point.
When I was in middle and high school, I was bullied. I was bullied all the time, I was called derogatory names and in some cases physically assaulted. At the time I honestly didn’t know why I had been singled out. I didn’t even know what being gay was. I lost a lot of innocence back then and it continued for years. I hated school and I honestly hated life. I thought about suicide plenty of times. And came close to attempting it.
However as time went on I gained two important friends on BZPower, Alku and Kinali. How important were these friends? Honestly, they helped me keep things together more than they know. Even after I became staff here they helped me keep it together. If it weren’t for them and their support I might not be here. Those two friends gave me some much needed support and through every experience with them we have grown as people and as friends.
Homophobia in any sense hurts us all. So please think before you speak.
Think about it.
“How will this hurt people around me?”
“How will this hurt myself?”
“How would I feel if I was in their shoes?”
Please, think about how the words you say can hurt others. Think about your beliefs and how they can be hurtful. Think about it.