Did You Know?
Do you know that every four years since 1982 gays and lesbians from around the world get together for the Gay Games? These games are the legacy of Tom Waddell, a decathlon competitor for the U.S. in the 1968 Olympics. The Games were conceived as a way for gays and lesbians to show the world that their skills and competitive spirit were equal to the rest of humanity.
Homophobia is a term used to describe negative attitudes, feelings and beliefs towards lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender individuals and those perceived to be of these sexual orientations or gender identities. Homophobic thoughts and reactions take many forms and can be subtle or blatant. They can involve harassment, prejudicial treatment of, or intolerance toward LGBT persons. Homophobia includes a range of feelings and behaviours from discomfort and fear to disgust, hatred and violence.
According to research, homophobia is often an extension of rigid gender-role stereotyping - fear that the “nuclear” family will be undercut, and that the very fabric of our society will be destroyed by any deviation from the “traditional” social order. Individuals who tend to be homophobic often also hold fixed ideas about how society should be structured and believe that in order to uphold the social order in our Western culture, we must maintain strict role differentiation between males and females, and perpetuate an unequal division of power and status that confers privilege to males. Gender diversity or “difference” with respect to sexual orientation is seen as a threat to traditional power structures.
Homophobic Behaviours Include:
- “Gay-bashing” or physical violence, including sexual violence
- Making derogatory comments, innuendos, insults, slurs, jokes or threats about sexual orientation or sexual practice
- Silencing talk of sexual or gender diversity
- Feeling repulsed by displays of affection between same-sex couples, but accepting affectionate displays between heterosexual couples
- Forcing people to “come out” or “stay in the closet” (disclose or hide their sexual orientation)
- Linking homosexuality with pedophilia
- Accusing LGBT persons of “recruiting” others to join their sexual orientation
- Defacing notices, posters or property with homophobic graffiti
- Rejecting friends or family members because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
- Treating the sexual orientations or gender identities of LGBT persons as less valid than those of heterosexuals
- Behaving as though all LGBT people have AIDS or are responsible for the spread of it
- Thinking of persons who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual only in terms of their sexuality, rather than as whole, complex persons
- Being afraid of social or physical interaction with persons who are LGBT
- Avoiding social situations or activities where you fear being perceived as LGBT
- Feeling that people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual should not discuss or display their sexual orientation openly while people who are heterosexual may do so freely