Britannica defines homophobia as the culturally produced fear of or prejudice against homosexuals that could manifest itself in legal restrictions or in extreme cases bullying or violence against homosexuals.
This is an issue all over the world with many people failing to accept others simply because their identities and orientation are against what they were taught to believe in. A survey found that 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ individuals face homophobia on a daily basis.
Homosexuality is frowned upon in society socially, economically and politically. A few ways in which society contributes to this stigma can range from gay mean not allowed to donate blood in countries like China, Croatia and Greece to In many countries, gay men are not allowed to donate blood to transgenders not being allowed to serve openly in the military. With the rising number of hate crimes against queer people such as getting jumped, mugging and even murder, it is getting increasingly difficult to identify with these identities.
Most queer individuals are more comfortable sharing their true identities and orientation online or anonymously rather than to people they may know in real life as they fear they will not be accepted by their loved ones. It is also seen that people prefer coming out to fellow LGBT individuals than heterosexual cisgendered ones as queer people belong to the same in-group of the lgbtq+.
The idea of the LGBTQ is to be a safe space for queer individuals in a straight world. However, discrimination or bullying does take place even within the community where some identities are more respected than others. This exclusion in the LGBTQ in-group is noticeable with those, who identify as bisexual an transgender individuals.
During the 1990s, lesbian and gay activist organizations such as International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) added transgender people to their cause because at that time transgender people faced many of the same prejudices. However, many of the transgender individuals who worked at such organizations were tokenized.
The unequal treatment of transgender individuals may be because not all transgender individuals are gay. Some gay transgender people were treated poorly by cisgender gay individuals because they were thought to have made the choice to be gay. Therefore, the gay community's display of transphobia and heterosexism creates inequality.
In some places, though people have started to accept other individuals of the LGBT community, Transgender individuals are still marginalized and encounter stigma and discrimination due to their sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions. This is especially so in certain Asian countries such as India, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Most bisexuals struggle to be accepted by both heterosexual and queer- fail to accept it as a real identity. People believe that it is either a “bridge” to coming out as gay or lesbian, or that the person is heterosexual but is just “confused” during their adolescence. They are told many times to “just stop being greedy and just pick one side”.
Queer youth may already face a lot of bullying from their homophobic peers, and being alienated by the LGBT community just makes their lives so much harder. Apart from this, many Queer people are also thrown out of their house or receive cruel treatment from their own family, if their family does not accept them.
Queerness is often fetishized as well. Many times, men fetishize queer women and this has led to a lot of queer baiting in popular TV shows and movies. For example, in the popular show Riverdale, the characters, Betty and Veronica kissed at the end of a dance routine just to add some “spice” to their cheer try-outs whereas it is never said that either character is queer and the show mostly portrays them as heterosexual. Similarly, in SKAM, a very drunk Eva kisses Vilde.
There is also the issue of people wanting a “gay best friend” as if the only interesting thing about this person was their “gayness”. Though it may seem harmless at first, that too is a way of fetishizing Queer people.
To conclude, I would like to say that it is important to accept every individual for who they are regardless of their identities and/or orientation. Their body parts and who they like does not change them as an individual. Homophobia, Transphobia and Bullying is just not okay, whether it is outside of the LGBTQIA+ Community or within.
Matt Bernstien (@mattxiv) https://www.instagram.com/mattxiv/?hl=en
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shwetha is a high school student passionate about advocacy, music and fashion. She loves expressing her feelings in the form of written words and aims to use her voice to help everyone who is going through something tough.