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What is Homophobia

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					What is Homophobia?
Homophobia is pervasive, hurtful and oppressive. Like other kinds of oppression, it is a part of our cultural and social system. Homophobia can be thought of in terms of different types, or manifestations: Personal Homophobia “a form of prejudice. It is the personal belief that LGBQQ people are sinful, immoral, sick, and inferior to heterosexuals or incomplete people. Prejudice toward any group is a learned behavior; people are taught to be prejudiced.” • Can sometimes be experienced as fear of being perceived as a member of the LGBQQ community. Personal homophobia is the manifestation of how some people try to “prove” their heterosexuality. • Some people believe that there is a positive correlation between sexual orientation and sex roles. Lesbians are masculine and gay men are feminine. Many people spend a lot of energy and time trying to fit into prevailing cultural roles of what it means to be male or female as a way of avoiding being perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or questioning. Interpersonal Homophobia “the fear, dislike or hatred of people believed to be LGBQQ. This hatred or dislike may be expressed by name calling, ostracism, verbal and physical harassment and individual acts of discrimination.” • LGBQQ folks are regularly attacked for no other reason than their assailant’s homophobia. However, interpersonal homophobia can be acted out in more common, nonviolent ways. Institutional Homophobia “the many ways in which government, businesses, churches and other institutions and organizations discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation. These groups may act discriminatorily in how they set policies, allocate resources and maintain unwritten codes for behavior.” • Example: religious organizations that exclude open LBGQQ members; schools that refuse to recognize LGBQQ student groups. Cultural Homophobia “social standards and norms that dictate that a heterosexual is better or more moral than being LGBQQ; and that everyone is heterosexual or should be. Often, heterosexuals don’t realize these standards exist, while LGBQQ people are acutely aware of them. This form of homophobia often results in LGBQQ people feeling like outsiders.” • Examples seen daily in TV shows, advertisements • The assumption is made that all “normal” children will eventually be attracted to and marry a person of the opposite sex.
Vanderbilt University GLBT Resource Office VU Station B 351599 2301 Vanderbilt Place Nashville, TN 37235-1599 615-322-3330 glbtoffice@vanderbilt.edu www.vanderbilt.edu/glbt Located at 401 24th Avenue South Vanderbilt University Psychological and Counseling Center VU Station B 357707 2301 Vanderbilt Place Nashville, TN 37235-7707 615-322-2571 www.vanderbilt.edu/pcc Located at Suite 1120 Baker Building, 110 21st Avenue South

Heterosexism “the institutional set of beliefs and attitudes that suggest or state that heterosexuals are normal and natural and that homosexuals are, by contrast, deviant and unnatural. It is assumed that everyone is heterosexual and that only heterosexuality is right, good or legitimate. Because of these assumptions, a system of advantages—heterosexual privilege—is bestowed on heterosexuals in our culture, and the needs, concerns and life experiences of LGBQQ people are excluded.” • Heterosexism is manifested or expressed on a variety of levels—interpersonally, culturally, and institutionally. • The emphasis in this right is on the assumptions regarding what is considered “normal” and “right” (not on what is feared) • Examples of heterosexual privilege: o kissing or showing affection in public o being able to talk openly about relationships o the right to not question your normalcy o the right to live comfortably in a residence hall without enduring the fear and rejection from roommates and other peers o the right to marry or adopt o not having to hide friends, activities or organizational involvement’s o having one’s partner appear in family photographs Internalized Homophobia “when LGBQQ people incorporate society’s prejudices against homosexuality into their own feelings of self-worth, resulting in feelings of self-hatred, low self-esteem and hatred of other LGBQQ people.” Overcoming Homophobia Since most of us have grown up in a homophobic environment, we all have had to go through a process of overcoming the beliefs and attitudes we’ve internalized or learned. Dr. Dorothy Riddle described 8 “Levels of Attitude” which describe a progression a person moves through as they work through and overcome prejudiced beliefs. We can’t expect a person to move from an early level to an enlightened level very quickly. But we CAN help people move to the next step by helping them examine where beliefs come from and challenging these beliefs with accurate information, alternative experiences, etc.

Adapted from Northwestern University’s Safe Space Training Program Manual.
Vanderbilt University GLBT Resource Office VU Station B 351599 2301 Vanderbilt Place Nashville, TN 37235-1599 615-322-3330 glbtoffice@vanderbilt.edu www.vanderbilt.edu/glbt Located at 401 24th Avenue South Vanderbilt University Psychological and Counseling Center VU Station B 357707 2301 Vanderbilt Place Nashville, TN 37235-7707 615-322-2571 www.vanderbilt.edu/pcc Located at Suite 1120 Baker Building, 110 21st Avenue South


				
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Description: What is Homophobia