If you ask the average person what “homophobia” means, they will likely tell you it is the fear of homosexuals. This is not really accurate, although there are those who can be defined as such. One can also define homophobia as the insecurity about being heterosexual, but that’s an issue for another article. Those who are genuinely afraid of homosexuals derive their fear from the same source as those who hate homosexuals; religion.
The fact is that homophobia is not descriptive of the behavior that many religious people exude toward the LGBT community. Most of them are not afraid of homosexuals (on the surface, anyway), they just hate. The Greek word for hate is “-miso” (mis-, -misia) and it literally means “hate, hater, hatred; disgust for; revulsion of.” Thus, a more correct description is
No, it doesn’t flow as well as “homophobia,” but we should practice saying it because the discrimination it inspires touches the lives of all Americans, and we all pay the price for it. Homosexualmisia on its own is bad enough because it reveals an ignorance of the highest order. When combined with biblical commands, it can kill. Consider,
“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” – Leviticus 20:13
Murder and other violent crimes against homosexuals number in the dozens here in the US every year, and those are the cases where it is obvious. I posit that there are many more in which homosexualmisia is unknown or not recorded in case files. As most of you already know, the numbers run into the hundreds and sometimes thousands in some Islamic countries. Occasionally we read about a particularly egregious crime, such as murder, that is caught on a cellphone camera or happens within the proximity of a supporting journalist. However, the beatings, mutilations and murder of homosexuals in some of these countries are religiously mandated and often are not considered newsworthy.
Then there are the comments and slurs we all hear throughout our day by friends, co-workers, fellow students and sometimes our own family. When you put this all together, it is not difficult to understand that, in spite of the inroads that the LGBT community has made, there is still much work to do. The road ahead is likely to be met with the considerable push-back that is currently from the religious right, and will likely be increased as the LGBT community pushes forward. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand this. Just read some of the conservative blogs or click into the Southern Poverty Law Center, Right Wing Watch, etc.
There are countless suicides every year within the gay community, particularly our gay youth. Sometimes we read about them in a newspaper, blog or on television news. Mostly not. Mental health professionals know that these suicides are resultant of the treatment toward homosexuals and the resultant life of daily rejection due to their value as an individual being trampled upon. Suicide is several times higher among gay men as compared to straight men, and very term “straight” as an application for heterosexuals denotes that homosexuality is somehow “bent” or “crooked.” This is indicative of how a religiously influenced society perceives homosexuality.
The price paid by the LGBT youth is horrific, both by children of accepting and loving families and those who were born to fundamentally religious parents. Children of the uber-religious are often worse off. Their rearing in an atmosphere of hatred and bigotry severely complicates their lives. Statistically, a percentage of these children are homosexually oriented, and they have an even harder road ahead of them because unlike those children who are raised in an accepting loving family, these children will likely be disowned, rejected and deserted by their families.
It won’t take long, either. Homosexualmisia usually presents to a child who is immersed in a religiously fundamental environment well before they become aware of their own sexuality. The LGBT child of religious parents/family who realize their sexuality is not entirely or exclusively heterosexual are in for a hit of biblical proportions. Denial, self-loathing and other psychologically damaging personality disorders are inevitable, as the internal conflict can become unbearable. Either way, whether they choose at a young age to deny their sexuality or embrace it, there is no getting around the fact that the prejudices they’ve been exposed to are now directed to themselves.
While the children who are raised in a pro-LGBT environment do not have to deal with the situations at home that the children of the religious do, their road is not a smooth one, either. The entire “It Get’s Better” campaign and similar efforts to dissuade our LGBT youth from taking drastic measures to combat incessant bullying because of their sexuality is proof positive of this. Persecution toward LGBT youth is still rampant in all levels of educational institutions, and there is still too little effort made by authority figures to stop the torment. The result of this cycle of hatred is a suicide rate about seven times higher than that of heterosexual youth. Sometimes, bigots actually try to prevent intervention by teachers in the schools. Often, their ignorance causes them to believe that somehow homosexuality is an infectious disease that their own children might “catch.”
Homosexualmisia distorts sex, sexuality, perception of strangers, interaction with co-workers and reaction to public health issues. As I have stated many times, the cost to society is enormous, and the personal costs to the LGBT community are astronomic. Gestures, jokes and innuendos have very unsettling effects that often lead to serious loss of self-esteem, which sometimes have catastrophic results.
The LGBT community deserve unreserved participation in all aspects of American life and discrimination of any kind absolutely need to be relegated to the same status as racial discrimination – and not just on paper. Religious doctrines that spew hatred and intolerance toward the LGBT community should be treated just as those doctrines that advocate all other forms of bigotry, hatred and discrimination. Religious leaders who openly support the denigration and eradication of homosexuals should be regularly and publicly condemned.
I am all in favor of free speech, but rhetoric that advocates the murder or physical assault of anyone should always be met with extreme protest and those who engage in it need to be consistently and vehemently exposed. This includes boycott actions when a corporation or the head of a corporation makes hateful comments, such as the whole Chick-Fil-A debacle. Chick-Fil-A and other consumer-driven businesses that have a long history of supporting anti-gay causes do not deserve our patronage, no matter how delicious, convenient or seemingly necessary their products are.
Disclaimer: Please do not bother posting your long lists of the hundreds of companies that are intertwined so tightly that boycotting all of the offending entities would have us once again living in caves, without electricity and indoor plumbing. I can only fight what I see, and the issue of boycotting can be as controversial as spanking your kids (you should never hit your kids) or vaccination (you should always vaccinate your kids).
History reveals that religion is the catalyst, either directly or indirectly, for all of the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, discrimination and crimes against the LGBT community. Homophobia and homosexualmisia would be non-existent without religious doctrine. Period. End of story. Bigotry has no place in modern society.
The attitudes and actions by the religious toward the LGBT community are another reason why we’d be better off a completely secular society.