Why are some people homophobic?
There are relatively many reasons for some people being homophobic. Some are more common than others:
- Fear from unknown or different
Seeing a same-sex couple holding hands in the street is different. For some, this creates suspicion and hostility. It’s the same with racism. It’s about ignorance, a person’s capacity for negativity and hate, and their belief that they are better. I’ve met men who have said that they’ve imagined kissing another man how it made them feel ill. It’s ridiculous for a person to deliberately imagine doing something that isn’t part of their nature and then use that as a justification for homophobia. For some, homosexuality is a big mystery, something wholly different, abnormal and weird, and they may feel threatened by it. They use stereotypes, guesswork and homophobic humor to deal with the unknown. What a lot of people don’t know is that a same-sex couple has more similarities to an opposite-sex couple than they do differences. Gay people experience the same romantic feelings, sexual desires and emotional pain as straight people, and their relationships are as likely to succeed or fail (though homophobia in the community can affect the longevity and potential of a gay relationship, as can personal feelings of unease around ones sexuality – both issues that straight couples don’t have to contend with). Being gay is different from being straight but that’s only a negative if someone decides it is. That includes you.
2. Traditions and expectations –
The traditional idea of a happy and normal life is usually defined by heterosexual marriage and the production of children. A lot of people feel that heterosexual relationships are healthier, more successful and morally superior. We celebrate straight relationships in every area of life and are constantly reminded that we should to be in one by TV, billboards, magazines and most songs on the radio. We spend thousands on weddings and throw parties for pregnancies. And we whisper very quietly about divorce rates!
A lot of problem page emails I receive are from young people whose parents are completely devastated that their offspring won’t be getting married to an opposite-sex partner and having children. They simply can’t understand that someone can be happy in a different kind of family to the one they’ve always imagined. But family is defined by the people within it and their love for each other. Being gay does not exclude you from having your own family some day.
A lot of unhappiness is caused in gay peoples’ lives via the struggle between following their true desires and living up to the expectations of family and society at large. So powerful is the hold of traditional values over our lives that some gay people marry opposite-sex partners and have children because they feel that there is no other option if they are to be accepted in their community. This behavior isn’t limited to conservative religious parts of the world; rigid and traditional ideas about family and a person’s role within it are not necessarily linked to religion.
Being gay isn’t a problem, and shouldn’t be seen as such. Nobody is born with a bad attitude about it. It’s not a mental condition, illness or disability. It’s often the people around us and society at large that can make life difficult for us as gay people, but you can be happy and successful. Life can be tough sometimes no matter what your sexual orientation, especially while developing into an adult and getting to grips with relationships and sex for the first time.
The hardest thing in life is to be yourself but it’s also the most rewarding. The closer you come to accepting your sexuality and liking who you are, the happier you’ll become. Some gay people try desperately to hide their sexuality from others, thinking that by pretending to be heterosexual they will gain the acceptance of their peers. Some gay people go as far as getting married to an opposite-sex person and having children in an attempt to conform or to escape from their true feelings. It’s draining and damaging to mental health to live a lie. It leaves a person unfulfilled and unhappy. Imagine a straight person feeling that they have to pretend to be gay, to have a same-sex partner and behave in a way that doesn’t feel right to them or bring them happiness. It’s unthinkable but is equivalent to the way a lot of gay people live their lives.
Life is often only as hard as we choose to make it. The most important person who needs to accept your sexuality is you. Self-acceptance and making the most of what life has given you is the best way to be happy.
Try not to isolate yourself and see obstacles that don’t exist. I’ve met many gay people who are very angry and permanently ready for an equal-rights rally, even if they’ve never experienced homophobia. Don’t be prickly. Give people a chance to be okay about your sexuality before you get the banner out. Don’t imagine problems before they exist.
What is your experience with homophobic people? Feel free to leave comment or contact us with your story or experience on
Article by Kevin Helix