What Are the Results of Homophobia?
Homophobia hurts all of us. It can prevent lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from feeling safe and from living full lives. It leads to discrimination and sometimes violence. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people — and those who appear to be homosexual — may face verbal abuse or physical violence because of their sexual orientation. This abuse is sometimes called gay-bashing.
More subtle forms of discrimination also come from homophobia. For example, people who are, or who are perceived to be, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, may not be hired for certain jobs, be allowed to rent certain apartments, or may be treated poorly by health care providers.
The stress of homophobia can be very harmful. It can cause
Internalized homophobia can lead to suicide. Up to 30 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents attempt suicide.
Homophobia can also hurt straight people. It can keep straight men from forming close friendships with other men, for example.
No matter what your sexual orientation, there are several simple things you can do to fight homophobia:
- Challenge stereotypes about lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
- Use inclusive language — language that acknowledges that not everyone is heterosexual. For example, if you meet a woman who wears a wedding ring, don’t automatically refer to her husband.
- Treat everyone — regardless of sexual orientation — with respect and dignity.
Here are some tips that might help you challenge homophobia in your everyday life:
- First, make sure you are safe. Don’t challenge someone if you fear for your safety.
- Remember it’s not personal. Homophobia is a fear that makes no sense. It might feel like a personal attack, but it’s not.
- Pick a good time. Some homophobic situations come up very publicly. Others happen just between a couple of friends. Sometimes you might decide to speak up right away. Other times you may say something later on. And sometimes you might choose to just walk away.
- Ask questions and stay calm. Sometimes people don’t know what words are insensitive or offensive. Try to remain calm and tell them.
- Friends are important. Don’t go it alone. Ask for help when you need it. Develop a support system.
- Practice different ways you could approach situations. Talk it out with a friend.