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How Can a Heterophobic Call Me Homophobic and Heterosexist?

An essay submitted by Helen Louise Herndon

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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 terrible."

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.

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Webmaster's comments:

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:

bullet Religious conservatives often define homosexuality by one's behavior; others often define homosexuality by one's sexual orientation.
bullet The term "homophobia" refers to a number of different beliefs and activities. It is sometimes use to refer to:
bullet Fear of homosexuals. Judging by its etymology, this may have been Its original meaning when the word was coined in the 19th century.
bullet People who hate homosexuals and/or homosexuality.
bullet Persons who want to retain some unique privileges for heterosexuals, like marriage, spousal visitation privileges in hospitals, insurance benefits, inheritance rights, ordination, etc.
bullet A person who is frightened to speak out against homosexuality.
bullet A belief that homosexual behavior is intrinsically immoral and should be criminalized.
bullet 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.

B.A. Robinson

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Originally posted: 2005-NOV-21
Latest update: 2005-NOV-21
Author: Helen Louise Herndon

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