Allies & Advocates

Levels of Homophobia

Negative Levels of Attitude

REPULSION : Homosexuality is seen as a "crime against nature." Homosexuals are sick, crazy, immoral, sinful, wicked, etc., and anything is justified to change them (e.g. prison, hospitalization, behavior therapy including shock treatments).

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).

TOLERANCE : Homosexuality is just a phase of adolescent development that many people go through and most people "grow out of." Thus, lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are less mature than straights and should be treated with the protectiveness and indulgence one used with a child. Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals should not be given the positions of authority because they are still working through adolescent behaviors.

ACCEPTANCE : Still implies that this is something to accept, characterized by such statements as, "You're not gay to me, you're a person." Denies social and legal realities. Ignores the pain of invisibility and the stress of closet behavior.

Positive Levels of Attitude

SUPPORT : Work to safeguard the rights of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. Such people may be uncomfortable themselves, but they are aware of the social climate and the irrational unfairness.

ADMIRATION : Acknowledges that being lesbian/gay/bisexual in our society takes strength. Such people are willing to truly look at themselves and work on their own homophobic attitudes.

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

NURTURANCE : Assume that lesbians, bisexuals, and gays are indispensable in our society. They view all homosexuals with genuine affection and delight and are willing to be open advocates.

Source: Obear, K. (1985) Opening Doors to Understanding and Acceptance: Facilitators

Page last modified December 22, 2010