Homophobia: Description, Development, and Dynamics of Gay Bashing

By Martin Kantor | Go to book overview

2
Homophobia as a Manifestation of Sexophobia

Many homophobes are basically "sexophobes," who have a negative feeling about all sex, gay or straight. Sex makes them anxious, or they find it revolting. To a degree, sexophobia is not abnormal. Many people seem to find at least some aspects of sex inherently anxiety-provoking, or even "disgusting," especially after their sexual excitement is over, taking with it the alchemy that turns physical dross into emotional gold. They explain their anxiety and disgust in a number of ways. Some see the sex act as inherently unrefined, and for them anything unrefined is crude, and anything crude is disgusting. Others are bothered because the genitals are anatomically close to the excretory organs. Still others are in conflict about sex, with their disgust, quoting Otto Fenichel ( 1945), a defense against forbidden "sexual, especially oral and anal drives" (p. 139). And finally others say that, being only human, they are horrified as a predictable and understandable response to gay or straight sex that is meant to shock. For example one straight woman, not by any means a homophobe, felt she was being reasonable when she complained that she "found it just too much to be strolling down Christopher Street in New York City's Greenwich Village, only to suddenly espy a go-go dancer performing in a store window, for all to see, wearing a small bikini, and a large erection" (personal communication).

But some individuals, straights and gays alike, are abnormally sexophobic. They find all forms of sex much more frightening/revolting than they actually are. Among these are, as Fenichel ( 1945) calls them, anal prudes whose "anal prudishness is a reactive cleanliness" (p. 177), and who are only comfortable when sexuality is refined to the point where it becomes "not dirty" (as described below). There are also hypocritical

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