It has increased, not decreased, due to “Gay Rights” legislation; and with good reason.
(c) 2013, Davd
Looking at the past 50-60 years—at my lifetime since the age between 10-20, when i became aware homosexuality existed—I’d say that there is more, not less homophobia today than in the 1950s and 1960s. All that “gay rights” activism and legislation, and the “sexual liberation” that came along with it, has not reduced “homophobia”: Heterosexual and asexual men today are more afraid of today’s homosexuals than similar men were in 1950-65, and probably on to 1970 and even 1980—with good reasons.
Literally, of course, phobia means fear. To refer to expressions of distaste as representing fear, is at best, illegitimately playing psychiatry without a license—and without examining the “patient”: Flat contrary to the rules of psychiatric practice.
Using “homophobia” to mean what it really means, and to repeat for emphasis: There is more homophobia today; and more reason to fear homosexuals today than there was two generations ago. “Homosexual liberation” has increased genuine homophobia, and the increase shows that we “non-homosexuals” have good sense.
In the 1950s, 1960s—and 1940s, according to informants who were old enough then to know about the subject—homosexuals were regarded as queer. “Queer” was the commonest slang term for homosexuals, especially male homosexuals; and it was based in good semantics: Same-sex eroticism was abnormal to most heterosexual boys and men. (Boys and men with low sex-drive were not regarded as queer, rather as undersexed.)
Were “queers” feared? Not much! Harassed, sometimes. Ridiculed, oftener. The harassment and ridicule may well have been based in fear to some modest extent—but the fear was of being mislabelled as queer oneself, not of the homosexuals. The harassment and ridicule served to express heterosexual solidarity and identity—not homophobia.
Are homosexuals feared today? Yes, to a significant extent. Not as much, say, as armed crazies, tornadoes, or a diagnosis of cancer; and for many men, not even as much as tax-return audits or traffic cops with their red lights flashing—but more, overall and on average, than they were feared 50 years ago when i was entering adult manhood. There are two good reasons at least why homophobia is higher today, and both are linked to “homosexual liberation”.
Reason #1 is STD risk—the risk is higher today than it was then. AIDS is the most visible STD whose risk has “shot up many-fold”, as well as the one most linked to homosexuality in recent history; but there are several others as well. Wikipedia lists: Candidiasis, chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and C, herpes, human cytomegalovirus, human papilloma virus, Molluscum contagiosum, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. (I don’t count crab-lice and scabies as “diseases”; Wikipedia did, last time i looked.) Homosexuals, back in the 1970s and 1980s when i was occasionally assigned to teach “Social Problems” classes, were known to have more different sexual “partners” than heterosexuals—and thus, to contribute more to the spread of these diseases. Masters, Johnson, and Kolodny (1988), in particular, warned of the spread of AIDS into the general population.
When AIDS first became visible to organized medicine, it was often called “GRID—Gay Related Immune Disorder”, and it was known to be present especially among “the 4H club—Homosexuals, Heroin addicts, Hemophiliacs, and Haitians.” (It turned out, epidemiologically, that homosexuals often had the disease because of promiscuity, heroin addicts because of needle sharing, hemophiliacs because they received so many blood transfusions, and i don’t recall if Hatians were infected more by voodoo related practices, an African connection1, or what?) Physicians, in San Francisco particularly, reported that some of their homosexual AIDS patients had had as many as 1000 different “sex partners” in a single year. (Don Juan and Casanova were famous for having had intercourse with 1000 women in their lifetimes, or at least claiming so.)
Since the 1980s, i have not taught “social problems” courses, so i have not followed research and journalism on HIV-AIDS as closely as i did then. I have heard and read a few references to a tendency among “gay men” to revert to promiscuity, perhaps not as many as 1000 different “sex partners” in a single year, but more than most heterosexuals have. Promiscuity, in a quantitative sense, is the main cause of STD prevalence: The more promiscuous the population, the more prevalent STDs will be. It seems obvious enough that the most promiscuous people in the population are the “problem people” who contribute most to the spread of STDs.
That is something to fear—and there are enough “bisexual” people to carry STDs from the homosexual to the heterosexual population.
It should be mentioned while on the subject, that promiscuity among women is also to be feared—STDs do not “respect sexual orientations”. If it be prudent to fear the epidemiological effects of “gay” promiscuity, it be equally prudent to fear those of heterosexual promiscuity. In other words, promiscuity is to be feared “in anyone with whom one might ‘have sex’, directly or indirectly.”
Reason #2 is legal and bureaucratic intimidation.
Back in the 1980s, when i sometimes taught “social problems” classes, i referred to AIDS, which was then sometimes called “the gay plague”, as “not a gay plague, but a super-VD” that had spread more among homosexuals because of greater promiscuity. A student actually complained to the Dean about that remark, and i was “called on the carpet” for being anti-homosexual. (I took along to the Dean’s Office, a magazine article that reported the San Francisco promiscuity rates, and asked the Dean to get the student to produce his [or her] contrary evidence so i could revise my notes if and as needed. No contrary evidence was sent to me, so i figured the complaint was ill-founded2.)
My main point in reporting the incident here, is to show that the official response was not to demand the student present her or his evidence before “calling me on the carpet”. Had the complaint been about say, a statement that blondes are more promiscuous than brunettes, professional athletes more promiscuous than engineers, or waitresses more promiscuous than cosmetologists, i believe the Dean would have asked the student to support her or his point—to give some credible evidence that i was in error—before confronting me; and that had such evidence been furnished, the confrontation would have been more a matter of gentle correction, or even a request to see what other evidence i had to present.
At that time, it seems, speaking ill of homosexuals was “Politically Incorrect”, and for that reason, i was required to justify what i said, rather than the student. The Dean was not so mean-spirited as to demand a high level of proof; my magazine article “made a prima facie case for” my assertion, and that was enough for the Dean to ask the complainer to do as well or better, which [s]he didn’t do. So the cost to me was a couple hours of the working day, and some [but not very much] needless stress.
It’s an important point, and a general one, that if one makes a “Politically Incorrect” assertion, as when an astronomer named Galileo insisted the earth goes around the sun rather than the sun going around the earth, one is subjected to a burden of justification that would not be imposed on an otherwise similar assertion where “Political Correctness” was not involved. The same principle applies if one makes a “Politically Incorrect” demand or request—for instance, if a father seeks custody of his children when his wife discards him, or a Christian university which condemns homosexual intercourse by doctrine, applies to found a law school (CBC Radio news, March 27 or 28).
In some cases, as the Galileo example illustrates, the burden may be impossibly heavy, or there may simply be a command that the assertion be recanted. Milovan Djilas, who had been second after Josep Broz Tito in the government of Yugoslavia, was actually imprisoned for strongly criticizing the bureaucracy—political correctness was that much more powerful than individual rank. Djilas himself writes of Hegel “As a professor by royal appointment, he could not have dared … to make recommendations for the improvement of society on the basis of his philosophy.” (Djilas, 1957: 3)
“Political Correctness” is subject to change, as the above examples implicitly illustrate: Today, Galileo’s heliocentric astronomy is taught in Canadian schools. Fifty years ago, homosexual intercourse was a crime in many jurisdictions where today there are laws forbidding discrimination against homosexuals. 100 years ago, father custody was normal and—relative to a much lower rate of divorce—quite common.
So am i homophobic? Should you be? Those are questions that should be answered not with “yes” or “no” but with a question-back, or with specification.
Am i afraid to have same-sex intercourse? It’s not the best question, because i don’t have any desire in that direction—you probably wouldn’t ask me if i’m afraid to eat locusts, (another activity a small fraction of other men indulge in, that just doesn’t appeal to me.) If asked about eating locusts, i’d probably respond by saying “distaste is a better word than fear”, and perhaps inquiring about what harm eating them could bring to me. If asked about same-sex intercourse, i’d know what harm: STD risk.
(The same kind of risk applies to intercourse with promiscuous women; i suppose from old evidence that same-sex intercourse is the more dangerous, but promiscuous women are dangerous enough. The difference between the two “kinds of partners” is that to me, some promiscuous women are attractive, while i’m not attracted to men. In practical fact, the whole issue is moot: I’m abstinent and have been for years.)
Do i want homosexual men around? On balance, i’d rather not have homosexual strangers around, but it’s mostly a matter of that “Political Correctness” garbage—the idea that if a homosexual takes umbrage at something i say or do, i might get saddled with a Burden of Justification. I have worked with homosexual men at times and got on quite well enough, because they didn’t push Political Correctness and they didn’t try to get erotic with me.
I’m not afraid of blondes or waitresses—but if it were Politically Incorrect to offend one, i might be.
It’s rational to be afraid—or at the least, wary—of Burdens of Justification.
It’s less rational, and usually not socially healthy, to give individuals the privilege to impose such Burdens; and one reason is that so many people are willing to exploit privilege.
Perhaps it’s time to make Feministophobia a buzzword.
Djilas, Milovan 1957, The New Class. NY: Praeger.
Masters, William H., Johnson, Virginia E., and Kolodny, Robert C. 1988. Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of AIDS. NY: Grove Press.
1. HIV was generally regarded [by 1990] to be a mutant “green monkey disease” virus which “crossed over to humans” in Africa and spread around the world from where monkeys were butchered for food.
2. Imaginably, increased heterosexual promiscuity since that time, might have reduced the difference between “gay” and “straight” promiscuity levels to insignificance. My impression is that “gays” are still more promiscuous on-average, but not as impressively much more-so as they were in 1975-85. Readers with good evidence on the current situation are invited to provide it—with good references, please.