‘Heterophobia’: When Does Freedom Of Speech Become Hate Mongering?

17/05/2013 at 1:04 pm (Current Affairs, Gay) (, , , )

Following a brief, but in-depth, conversation with @joetele I was inspired to write this post. In fact, this is mostly my e-mailed response to him, but edited and embellished upon.

The discussion was about a homophobic twitter account. In fact, I had two such accounts in mind, one being something called ‘Straight Pride UK’. I’m still not sure if Straight Pride is a parody account or not. I was mulling over the arguments of free speech, and we were discussing when that becomes hatespeech, and the motives behind it.

Of course I believe in free speech. If someone has something to say about how they feel – whether in jest or just being true to their outlook – they should be able to voice it. Because of the same freedoms I can call it out as bollocks if I wish.

In this case, however, it raises the question of hate speech or free speech. This account in particular is so completely aggressive and anti-equal rights and anti-equal marriage, it might actually become incitement to more physical and aggressive attacks. But that would be for a court to decide, and I’m getting ahead of myself.
That said, what I find most frustrating about any person that devotes so much time and vehemence to one particular target does imply a desirability to that target.

Here’s an example.
I hate gameshows. My reaction to one is often as follows:

“Urgh, I don’t like this.”
*switches off TV or turns over*
Problem solved.

If, however, I said I didn’t like it and wanted it banned, while desperately watching every edition to find a reason to ban it, this is attraction and obsession.

While this is perhaps a glib comparison, it helps to highlight that I genuinely feel that most (if not all) men and women who take the time to rally against a perceived notion that homosexuality have a fascination with it. I think aggressive homophobia, which I tend to think of more as ‘persuasionist’, is built upon an inner self-loathing from building upon the notion that a person cannot be themselves. This in turn manifests itself outward, despising those living the lives that a homophobic person feels they cannot possible have.

For homophobic people, I wonder if there is the idea that all gay people do is party all the time and criticise straight people’s dress sense. It’s almost as if we are having too much fun and now we want our cake and eat it. Bigotry is often the result of a feeling that society is failing some quarters and it becomes necessary to find an identifiable enemy. It’s no accident that the growing popularity for UKIP and the BNP has risen in the wake of an economic crisis, mirroring exactly what happened in pre-war Germany.

I’m not sure how it should be handled. Vehement homophobia is nauseating. Should we ignore it? It would mean less exposure to the individual in a small way, but it’d be like allowing damaging roots to grow under your house. Or do we rail against it at every opportunity, running the risk of building on the controversy and adding to its publicity?

I’m not sure I have the smarts to solve that one.
However, I can see the difference between free speech and hatemongering. Look at the Westboro Baptist Church, if you can hold your food down. They have made it their business to blame equality for gay people for every terrible thing that has happened to America. That’s not free speech, that’s demonising a whole sector of people in a perplexing and ludicrous way. Unfortunatley, this ludicrousness tramples upon things like the very basic values – picketing funerals for example – that they claim to uphold.

Hate speech leads to violence. We know it does. It creates bloodlust based on misinformation, ignorance and fear that rolls around in the minds of those who feel so isolated and dejected there’s nowhere for these ideas to go. It’s a thunderstorm trapped in a valley.

How I see freedom of speech is to accept that there other perspectives. I may not agree with them. I may think they’re just plain wrong. I have the choice to engage to discuss and argue. I may choose to not even spend the time of day responding. I don’t necessarily think the other party is ‘out to get me’.

We all have our biases. There is a massive difference in trying to do things to improve the world around us and holding up a nebulous, all encompassing villain. In this case ‘the gays‘. It’s laughable to think that there should be a need for ‘Straight Pride’. My argument is that just don’t hear of gangs of gay men or women beating up straight people. Sadly the reverse is all too prevalent.

I can’t say there’s no such thing has heterophobia. Have seen or heard of an incidence when there’s been a violence with such a condition as the cause? I genuinely cannot say I have.

With all this supposition and waffle on my part I can say this, if there is a Gay Agenda, it’s simply to be seen as equal members of the society we contribute to. We are your educators, your healers, your armed servicemen and women, your firefighters, your police. Like you, we are the cogs that make the country’s machine work. We contribute. We pay in. We are not an inferior community.

Gay people are not tearing about society. It is homophobia and transphobia, racism and xenophobia, misogyny and violence against the disabled that are our new Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

We must watch out for them.


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MP David Davies Is No Homophobe

10/12/2012 at 4:50 pm (Current Affairs, Gay, News) (, , , , , , )

MP David Davies knows what most people want and most people don’t want gay children. Nor do people want to see gay people having the same kinds of marriages as straight people. Well, there you have it. So there’s no real need to change it at all. It’s not as if David Davies is a bigot either.

He had a boxing match with a gay man once, so he’s all for equality.

I genuinely don’t think Davies is homophobic. His responses come gleaning information from a particular, ingrained belief. He knows his party. What I take exception to is the resignation of not allowing for change because bigots won’t like it.

People want to have children, and they want their children to be happy. Unfortunately, there are also many people that have an impression of what a gay lifestyle entails, and it’s often perceived as lonely. Perhaps it’s seen as exclusively abusive, ducking and weaving regular occurrences of violence day in, day out.

Parents want happy children, who grow into happy adults. The trouble with comments such as Davies’ is that it cements these well-worn beliefs. It’s not a fact set in stone, and the majority of violence against LGBT people is born of misinformation such as this.

The thing is, David Davies does have a point. Especially when he says that the Conservatives will lose the old Party Faithful if David Cameron presses for equal marriage. The purpose of the party does seem to be pull us backwards, constantly.

The core of the Tory party believes that gay people make their silver-haired mothers weep. What sort of monsters are we? It’s not actually the MP in question that annoys me, but what he highlights about the UK, specifically the Tories, Middle England, and its clamp-jaw hysteria. It’s not homophobia, it’s bull-headed, social retardation.

It’s time to grow up.

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The Importance of Coming Out and the Fears Behind It

04/01/2012 at 7:39 am (coming out, Gay) (, , , )

Last night, I received an e-mail from someone who wanted some advice regarding coming out, and some of the fears that it entailed. I replied, and realised that even though it wasn’t a particularly lengthy response, it was an honest one. It’s also important to point out that unfortunately, it’s not much easier for a man or woman to come out now than it was for me over 10 years ago.

I also came to the conclusion that some of it might help others, particularly teens:

“In regards to coming out, this is incredibly scary. I was terrified, and also thought I’d lose everyone that ever meant anything to me. I started with one close friend. Just one. Just someone I could trust. Parents can be very difficult, but also very surprising. Saying that, it’s not always easy, and everyone has different circumstances.

My mother was initially disappointed, but accepts me and my life, and welcomes my partner too. My family and friends love me whether I’m gay or straight. By coming out, even when it’s a scary, personal upheaval, the results are worth it. I found it made me feel more complete and balanced. I’m by no means Mr Wonderful, but it cleared up a lot of confusion and affected how I interacted with people for the better.

If you need further advice, have a look at the links below.



Also, it is worth talking to one of the helplines here: gaylifeuk

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