Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Where Do You Fall on the "Homophobia" Scale?

Diversity, tolerance, acceptance -- what do they mean? Our friend Susan writes, "In case you thought tolerance and acceptance were OK, read on.... This proves that more is wanted than 'tolerance and acceptance.' " GLBTQI's want to be recognized as "indispensable in our society, and viewed by straights "with genuine affection and delight."

Western Illinois University's Committee on Sexual Orientation uses the absurd definitions below by a psychologist named Riddle. Will 90% of Americans -- those who ascribe to "heternormative" standards and beliefs -- soon be labelled deficient, deviant, or sick by the American Psychological Association? (Note they say there is a "clinical defnition" of "homophobia"!)

Maybe you're already seeing this sort of nonsense in your company. Where do you fall on the homophobia scale? How "homophobic is your attitude? (How is this measured?) Even if you've "achieved" the acceptance level, that's not good enough -- it's still "homophobic"! And if you object to playing this twisted game, will you be fired?

In a clinical sense, homophobia is defined as an intense, irrational fear of same sex relations that becomes overwhelming to the person. In common usage, homophobia is the fear of intimate relationships with persons of the same sex. Below are listed four negative homophobic levels and four positive levels of attitudes towards lesbian and gay relationships/people. They were developed by Dr. Dorothy Riddle, a psychologist from Tucson, Arizona.

1. Repulsion: Homosexuality is seen as a "crime against nature". Gay/lesbians are sick, crazy, immoral, sinful, wicked, etc. Anything is justified to change them: prison, hospitalization, negative behavior therapy, electroshock therapy, etc.

2. Pity: Heterosexual chauvinism. Heterosexuality is more mature and certainly to be preferred. Any possibility of "becoming straight" should be reinforced, and those who seem to be born "that way" should be pitied, "the poor dears".

3. Tolerance: Homosexuality is just a phase of adolescent development that many people go through and most people "grow out of". Thus, lesbians/gays are less mature than "straights" and should be treated with the protectiveness and indulgence one uses with a child. Lesbians/gays should not be given positions of authority because they are still working through their adolescent behavior.

4. Acceptance: Still implies there is something to accept. Characterized by such statements as "You're not a lesbian to me, you're a person!" or "What you do in bed is your own business," or "That's fine with me as long as you don't flaunt it!"


1. Support: The basic ACLU position. Work to safeguard the rights of lesbians and gays. People at this level may be uncomfortable themselves, but they are aware of the homophobic climate and the irrational unfairness.

2. Admiration: Acknowledges that being lesbian/gay in our society takes strength. People at this level are willing to truly examine their homophobic attitudes, values, and behaviors.

3. Appreciation: Value the diversity of people and see lesbian/gays as a valid part of that diversity. These people are willing to combat homophobia in themselves and others.

4. Nurturance: Assumes that gay/lesbian people are indispensable in our society. They view lesbians/gays with genuine affection and delight, and are willing to be allies and advocates.