How Can a Heterophobic Call Me Homophobic and Heterosexist?
An essay submitted by Helen Louise Herndon
I still smart from labels facilely thrust upon me in an e-mail message: "I
do, however, believe you are homophobic and heterosexist. I also believe…that
indeed virtually every human being alive today is". I responded I will not
accept the labels "homophobic" or "heterosexist" anymore than she would accept a
label of "heterophobic." I thought I was engaged in an intelligent and spiritual
discussion of homosexuality based on biblical interpretations with a
self-proclaimed Lesbian claiming the Bible supports homosexuality. However, the
tone changed with use of labels and name calling. I spent days researching
Scripture and medical reports in my responses to her comments. She never truly
addressed my responses, but dodged them by raising other issues.
One benefit of this exchange is recognizing discussion is hardly on a
level plane legally or religiously, as gay activists succeed in casting
suspicions on any disagreeing with their agenda. Cleverly framed labels,
"homophobic" and "heterosexist," succeed in silencing opposition.
Christian commentator, Gregory Koukl, states:
"The word homophobia has
come to describe any kind of opposition to homosexuality of any sort, but it's
interesting that part of their goal was to shift the emphasis from what many
perceived to be a homosexual problem, away from the homosexual activity itself
and towards the attitude people have about homosexuality. In other words, if we
can label people who disapprove of homosexuality as 'homophobic,' it sounds
Relative to "heterosexism," he perceptibly notes:
"The use of the word
heterosexism provides another leap from an attitudinal bias to an internal
problem just like the word homophobia did. So now it is refining the point to
oppression if you disagree with homosexuality. You are prejudiced, you are
homophobic, you are heterosexist and you are oppressing people… So now if you
make a judgment against a homosexual and his lifestyle and you seek…to
discourage this on a social basis, you are not only homophobic, you are guilty
of heterosexism, which is a type of prejudice, which is a type of oppression,
which is a form of victimization, which is a form of abuse."
He read this
strategy in a flip chart used at a gay convention.
Voila! I wonder if any challenge I rationally and methodically
presented was seriously considered. Could she have waited for the opportune
moment to thrust upon me the "homophobic" and "heterosexist" labels? Such labels
compare to the mythical and hyperbolic "white America's racial guilt," as if all
white Americans are a collective group of people guilty of racism. Many are
becoming progressively disgusted with unfounded labels. Such manipulations
squelch intelligent, viable discussion. What can we do?
I may have unintentionally begun to do something. By introducing "heterophobic,"
I raised the possibility she and others may suffer from an internal bias against
the majority in the world. Since I am neither married nor involved in a
heterosexual relationship, how can anyone know if I am "homophobic" or
"heterosexist?" More and more I like "heterophobic." It holds the promise of
leveling the discussion plane where everyone is free to contribute an opinion,
understanding, or values without false accusations. Intolerance in a free
marketplace of opinions such as gay activists are introducing threatens the best
interests of all.
I won't permit a "heterophobic" to falsely label me without an equal
response. Does a "heterophobic" have the right to call me "homophobic" and
"heterosexist"? No! It's time for semantic ploys to cease. I never use
pejorative terms toward homosexuals. Please, don't label me either.
One of the problems in the field of religion -- and related controversies
such as abortion access and equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations
-- is that a single word is often given multiple meanings. "Witch"
is one such word. We list 19 different, and sometimes contradictory, definitions
of this word in our glossary of religious terms.
In the field of homosexuality, the situation is particularly chaotic:
|Religious conservatives often define homosexuality by one's behavior;
others often define homosexuality by one's sexual orientation. |
|The term "homophobia" refers to a number of
different beliefs and activities. It is sometimes use to refer to:|
|Fear of homosexuals. Judging by its etymology, this may have been
Its original meaning when the word was coined in the 19th century. |
|People who hate homosexuals and/or homosexuality.|
|Persons who want to retain some unique privileges for heterosexuals,
like marriage, spousal visitation privileges in hospitals, insurance
benefits, inheritance rights, ordination, etc.|
|A person who is frightened to
speak out against homosexuality. |
|A belief that homosexual behavior is intrinsically immoral and
should be criminalized.|
|A belief that homosexual orientation is intrinsically disordered.|
In our essay on homophobia, we conclude that the word has rapidly degenerated
into "snarl word" status and is best abandoned.
Originally posted: 2005-NOV-21
Latest update: 2005-NOV-21
Author: Helen Louise Herndon