Homophobia: The State of Sexual Bigotry Today

Homophobia: The State of Sexual Bigotry Today

Homophobia: The State of Sexual Bigotry Today

Homophobia: The State of Sexual Bigotry Today

Synopsis

Ten years after he first brought us the book Homophobia, which laid bare the harsh realities and harmful effects of this sexual bigotry, psychiatrist Martin Kantor delves again into prejudice and discrimination - even flat-out acts of absolute hatred - against gays in the United States. Have things changed? One might think so. Ten years ago Matthew Shephard was strung up to die on a fence, because he was gay. But no such blatant hatred has made headlines here since the turn of the millennium. Ten years ago, Pat Robinson authored a book that assured lasting peace would only occur when a group including "drug dealers, assassins, worshippers of Satan, and homosexuals" are no longer "on top." Yet, by 2007, Robinson was pledging support for pro-gay Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. And gays only longing for a formal relationship a decade ago are now entering into civil unions, even gay marriage, in states that have legalized the ceremonies. Hate crime laws have been revised to include gays, and gays are now recognized in "domestic partner" clauses common across insurance polices. People appear open about homosexuality in the media; gays are featured on television shows and in movies alongside straights. The advances seem great.

Excerpt

In the past decade the civil rights and gay pride movements, antidiscrimination laws, and the liberalization of large segments of society have changed the character of homophobia, possibly forever. But while gays and lesbians have made great strides in calming the homophobic waters, they have not been able to fully drain the swamp. For many homophobic attitudes and practices of yesterday have persisted more or less unchanged today. As a result, although the homophobic weather may have improved, the climate has continued much the same, and in some ways has even gotten considerably worse.

Although actual violence toward gays and lesbians still exists, it is less common than it used to be. I well remember the times when, on a regular basis, gays and lesbians were hunted down and beaten up or killed. A gay man I know, after buying a house in a straight neighborhood in a blue-collar town, was attacked by a gang of thugs who beat him up and threatened to set him on fire—but stopped after merely trying to burn down his house.

Threats of violence are still common today. Just recently an intoxicated man staggered past me and, entirely unprovoked, started yelling that he hated faggots and was going to kill me. As an article in the New York Times pointed out, in 2007 in Newark, New Jersey, gays and lesbians “might as well live on another planet,” for when the tenants of a gay couple’s building discovered that their landlords were gay they “called them ‘faggots’ and threatened to blow up their house.” Hip-hop songs still have openly homophobic lyrics containing threats to kill gay men, which are excused as merely a reflection of their underlying culture—one (as if this makes it better) in which all the singer’s buddies share the same sentiments!

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