Friday, 24 September 2010

Independent: Homophobia?

19.9.10; P. Vincenti; Mosta

Some years ago, a good friend of mine told me "all men are homosexual or at least bi-sexual; they don't know it or they won't admit it". He was homosexual and being heterosexual myself I challenged his declaration. I told him that I did not agree with him or his lifestyle but that this did not affect our friendship in the least. We exchanged views and neither of us felt attacked by the other for having expressed different opinions. I like to think that we are still friends today, even though I have not seen him for a while.

The increasing use of the word 'homophobia' is a perversion of the word 'phobia'. I may not like open spaces and prefer watching TV to going on a picnic. This may diagnose me as being agoraphobic. Agoraphobics experience increased anxiety and even elevated levels of fear when being in open spaces. They prefer being in the perceived safety of staying indoors and one expects them to have strong opinions about it.

The difference is that one may indeed disagree with homosexuality yet not experience any form of anxiety or fear when speaking to homosexuals. The deconstruction of words and their meaning in this case is in my view reckless. Misusing words in this manner creates unnecessary anguish for all, homosexual and heterosexual alike.

I wonder whether this is indeed the right approach, one that encourages reciprocal and long-term respect between people of different sexual orientations. Will it create an even deeper rift and perpetrate the very bias it sets out to prevent? If this were the case, all society would lose out because we are not defined solely by our sexual orientation.

1 comment:

  1. This is so representative of the conventional wisdom on homosexuality in Malta and it drives me crazy every time I read it. "I don't agree with your LIFESTYLE, but this did not affect our friendship in the least" WHAT? Human sexuality is an immutable characteristic, not a lifestyle. This is the same as saying, "I don't agree with you being black, but let's still be friends, ta?" I don't care if you "agree" with it or not, I'm gay and no amount of "disagreement" can change that. This attitude, disguised as a progressive and friendly Olive Branch to LGBT people, is really just the first cousin to the Sandra Camilleri, "there are gays and there are GAYS," approach. Both tell us, "It's ok to be gay, as long as you don't tell me about it or act upon your GOD-GIVEN sexual impulses."

    Also, P. Vincenti uses a tired old trick from the far-right by trying to paint heterosexuals (who represent at least 90% of all Maltese) as the marginalized segment of the population. This is utterly ridiculous.

    People like this need to be called out on their B.S. early and often, until it becomes a taboo to express such thoughts in public. Yes P. Vincenti, if you believe that being gay is a choice that gays should just "get over," you are a homophobe.