Latent Homophobia: How Discrimination Hides In Jokes, Clichés, And Tips

A life 2022

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Latent Homophobia: How Discrimination Hides In Jokes, Clichés, And Tips
Latent Homophobia: How Discrimination Hides In Jokes, Clichés, And Tips

Video: Latent Homophobia: How Discrimination Hides In Jokes, Clichés, And Tips

Video: Russia: State of homophobia - #Observers 2022, November

Hostility and aggression against specific groups is not only a story of open hatred that ends in a mass execution. At work, at a doctor's appointment, on an advertising billboard - her corrosive traces are found everywhere. Anyone can make a mistake: most of the sore issues have only recently begun to be discussed publicly and there is still no consensus on them in society. It is especially difficult to discuss problems that many have never touched. As a result, in order to identify discriminatory codes in speech, one has to make certain analytical efforts, which is not always easy or pleasant - and most often causes the counter-argument "cling to words."

Indeed, discrimination, like the devil, hides in the details: hackneyed phrases, expressive stereotypes and bearded jokes. Without realizing it, we deal with everyday discrimination every day, whether it is neglect of women, migrants or homosexuals. Actually, homophobia is one of the most common problems, which not everyone considers a problem. We decided to analyze the most frequent practices of everyday discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, with which it is high time to give up.


Hang labels

Any sexuality is associated with stereotypes. They work in the head at every opportunity, and within the discriminated group too. So, in the very word "homosexuality" for socio-cultural reasons, women fall into the invisibility zone. This is how the long patriarchal division in the language into illegal "homosexuality" (meaning same-sex relationships only between men) and tacitly approved lesbianism worked. Gay culture, gay prides, gay sex, in the end, mostly correlate with male images. From the notorious Brokeback Mountain to the cult TV series Queer as Folk, the word gay is primarily associated with men. The illusion of a male "face" of homosexuality is tenacious, although in reality homosexuality is one of the forms of sexual orientation, the same as heterosexuality or bisexuality - inherent in both men and women.

Actually, there is a whole package of stable associations with the concept of "gay", from which the epithet "gay" follows and the habit of labeling certain things or actions with it. One has only to ascribe to neutral events and things a special, for example, “gay” nature, and one can already look for shades of discrimination - the principle is exactly the same as with a certain “female” weakness or “Jewish” greed. This creates a recognizable group emblem, a label that ignores the diversity and differences of people.

Neither an earring in a man's ear nor a woman's short hair should become signs of homosexuality and turn into a tool for surveying people

Saying "this T-shirt is kind of gay" means keeping a characteristic image in your head: something vulgar, tight-fitting, possibly with elements of leather and lycra. To think that Eurovision is a contest “for gays and housewives” means ranking people and attributing strictly defined hobbies to them, evaluating one through the other, but invariably as unworthy and wretched. Calling HIV a gay disease is not just a big mistake in assessing the risks of any of us, but also implicitly linking the disease with some supposedly "dirty" kind of sex.

In any culture there is a rigidly fixed system of permissible actions and their assessment - and in the machismo, many actions are automatically read as "gay", requiring immediate censure, and even punishment. Holding hands is interpreted as meta-gay and, accordingly, low behavior, which can lead to an immediate discriminatory attack.This logic also works in the other direction - so any close bodily contact of "real men" arouses ironic suspicions of his latent "gayness", be it a free-style wrestling or a joint trip to the bathhouse.

All this says only one thing - a monopoly on a sign (even if at one time it really served as "identification") does not bode well, monstrously simplifying and distorting the picture of the world. Neither an earring in a man's ear, nor a woman's short hair, nor the use or non-use of cosmetics should become signs of homosexuality and turn into a tool for demarcating people.

Summarize people into a group and evaluate it

It is more difficult to dehumanize a specific person, so it often sounds like: “I have a gay friend, but …” It is easy to build any discriminatory statement according to this scheme, be it a remark about Muslims or blondes. After all, it is enough to make a reservation about the "exception" to supposedly have the right to speak out against the impersonal group as a whole. Against gay pride parades or the possibility of same-sex couples to have children, against every person professing Islam, against lesbians and feminists. And then belonging to a minority automatically means that a person is limited in his rights: to family life, freedom of movement, freedom of thought.

A certain mass of prejudices, which cover all representatives at once, becomes a common stigma for the group. Landlords sin like this, that they rent out housing only to “persons of Slavic nationality”. The bias towards certain groups of people, in turn, forms a further attitude towards their representatives. And it is not at all easy to resist this dehumanization, since we are talking about prejudices that are firmly fixed in a particular society. In fact, describing a person as a “lesbian” or “migrant” is like looking at one side of the 3D figure and drawing conclusions about the whole figure on this side, ignoring the human volume and versatility.

Disguise intolerance with jokes

Laughter relieves tension, and healthy irony brightens up the attitude towards serious situations. However, humor remains the most controversial and complex component of everyday discrimination. Not all jokes are the same bad, and to understand what's what, you need to debug the moral tuning fork. You should not equate rudeness veiled in the form of an anecdote with the bold attacks of Louis C. Kay, who never jokes just for the sake of joke or someone else's humiliation.

Nevertheless, we are not all Louis C. Kay, and everyone should be more attentive to others and develop a sense of tact - because some anecdotes about women, homosexuals and many others pierce the discriminatory bottom. Arguments like “you don’t have a sense of humor” do not work in this case. Humor is a serious tool that can both make you think about a problem and form a very unhealthy picture of the world. It is hardly possible to draw a direct parallel between a joke about violence and the act itself, however, these phenomena exist in the same field of permissibility of such things. Unfortunately, we still live in a society where it is acceptable, on the one hand, to joke about "chicks" and "stupid Uzbeks", and on the other, to move from words to actions: to maim girls and show inhumanity towards migrants.

As with any skill, you can learn to joke with dignity so that it doesn't turn out like this. Any hateful joke, especially in a not very tolerant society, pours into the stream of the rest of the discrimination. So, an evil anecdote can only add fuel to the fire, and in the end we have serious statements that it is necessary to burn the hearts of gays. In general, the word is a most powerful tool, and do not forget that it can hurt someone, even if it seems to you that there is “nothing like that” in it. Even if someone does not mind that she or he is called a "whore", "chick", "fagot" or "khachik" - in general, this is still part of the hate speech.


Highlight "special"

LGBT sexuality

If you think of the topic of homosexuality as a tag cloud, "sex" is one of the most visible. In homophobic discourses, it is called "dirty", "vicious", "meaningless". The latter is a consequence of the conservative tradition of associating sexual practices with the function of procreation. Moreover, modern sex, even homo-, even heterosexual, is infinitely far from the task of exclusively producing offspring.

The bed aspect of homosexual relationships is presented as the most immoral evil and an unacceptable departure from "normal" sexual relationships. Noting the special sexual activity of gay men, referring to the promiscuity and variety of sexual relations as perversion, stigmatizing gay practices as wrong and unnatural are symptoms of discrimination.

Determine the normality or abnormality of consensual sex activity

and within the framework permitted by law, is in itself a vicious practice

Homosexual hedonism is generally one of the main clichés played out in the media, films and speech. Much is exposed to censure: how they have sex (supposedly without any protection, choosing random partners how and where they have to) and with what dedication (here the idea of ​​promiscuity without obligations and feelings comes into play). Hate speech also comes into play: obscene vocabulary and concentration on the sexual sphere.

Determining the normality or abnormality of sex activity occurring by mutual consent and within the legal framework is a vicious practice in itself. The quantity and quality of sex in the life of any of us did not measure decency and high moral standards. The variety and variability of sexual practices suggests that the differences are at the level of preferences of each individual person and that this difference is not necessarily related to the orientation of partners.

Take a patronizing stance

Help is not equal to patronage, and sincere compassion is different from obsessive nurturing. It is useless, and even harmful, to try to do good by force. Help, coming down from above, signals that you are sure of the defectiveness of the receiving party: this person is deprived, he does not have access to the capabilities of a “normal” person. Of course, this attitude is fundamentally wrong.

Trying to arrange someone's personal life is generally not the most rewarding idea, and compulsive pimping is a direct confirmation that you consider a person unable to find a partner on their own. The phrase "I have a great friend, and he is also a single gay" headlong gives out a stereotype that people of homosexual orientation should grab at any straw, because it is much more difficult for them to find their "soul mate" than heterosexuals. And this is another face of discrimination, only positive.

An even more dangerous form of imposition of sexuality is the insistence of lesbians to try a relationship with a "real man." No sexuality, including female sexuality, cannot be forcibly "normalized". Behind such advice is a patriarchal mythical message: a man is literally capable of forcibly converting a woman to heterosexuality. History knows many horrific examples of its practical application - the practice of corrective rape becomes a real traumatic consequence. And unsolicited advice, hiding behind help, and such monstrous acts against the will of a person - all this fits into a culture of violence.

Presenting identity as a set of cliches

A striking example is the widely replicated image of a "gay girlfriend" like Stanford Blatch from Sex and the City. A homosexual man who, unlike the "real" one, will share true "girlish" joys. This cliché is primarily associated with terry stereotypes: girls love shopping, and boys drink beer in a bar.In such an uncompromising world, gay men are viewed exclusively “as girls”, depriving them of the right to be just a person, complex and multifaceted.

Moving away from this hopelessly outdated canon, one can easily understand: friendship, craving for specific activities, the desire to go shopping together is a matter of individual preference. If you go beyond the "typically feminine" and "typically masculine" ways to have a good time, there is no difference between a friend and a friend - it's just a person with whom you feel good. It is a mistake to try on the role of an ideal potential "girlfriend" for every gay acquaintance, and expect the behavior of a "shirt-guy" from every lesbian. This kind of friendship can be - and that's fine, but sexual orientation does not imply a ready-made personality template, as well as the obligation to conform to this template.


Ignore a person's self-identification

Language is a serious battlefield. Any zone of silence, lack of suitable words, hate speech and enmity create reality. A careful attitude to language is part of a set of measures for cultivating humanity in oneself. Here is a simple exercise from pop psychology: several times in a row to answer the question "who am I?" We fight (and win) all the time for the right to call ourselves who we are. Sexual orientation, gender identity is an important part of empowerment and self-identification. It is especially important here to identify a person as he himself considers it necessary. Consider the person's preferences - address him as he asks: for example, in the case of transgender, it is always better to clarify which gender to use.

You should be careful to use words, the meaning of which you have not fully clarified for yourself. Knowing the basic terms will help you avoid all kinds of awkwardness. It is useful to understand the prefixes (cis and trans, homo and hetero), to understand the difference between cross-dressers and intersex people, not to try to systematize in accordance with the heteronormative canon. Many are mistaken: calling a transgender woman "ex-man", equating a travesty genre with homosexuality, defending the theory of a binary gender system, ignoring intersex.

Believe in the existence of "gay radar"

In Russian there is a saying “A fisherman sees a fisherman from afar”. She is sometimes described as the ability to intuitively recognize people of homosexual orientation. Simply put, this is a kind of built-in "radar" that signals the approach of "friends". And although "heydar" pretends to be an intuitive feeling, in fact he often turns out to be a bundle of clichéd ideas about gays and lesbians. It's like trying to guess the level of education by how a person eats - the risk of hitting the sky is too high. There are no unequivocal scientific data on this score: any experiments reveal the mythological character of "Heydar". In addition, the idea that you can "feel" someone's sexual orientation goes against the idea of ​​fluid, variable sexuality. Well, it is difficult to imagine the work of a "gaydar" in the case of bisexuality, pansexuality or asexuality.

Referring to "unnaturalness"

Conversations about the opposite and natural in a person more often than others become the cause of Internet battles. Due to the fact that the connotations of "natural" are positive, there is a growing misconception that everything natural, natural is automatically good. With not / unnatural it is exactly the opposite: all the most monstrous, perverted and harmful goes to him. However, the concept of "natural" is often used as a synonym for "widespread in society" - at least, this is the essence of accusing homosexual people of unnaturalness. And this is just a consequence of a heteronormative order of things, a certain system of views, and not some higher natural order.

Nature can be a dangerous yardstick when it comes to the structure of human societies.Indeed, not so long ago (and in some especially difficult cases even now), some people referred to the natural tendency of women to cook, "the hearth". Such naturalization plays into the hands of prohibitive rhetoric: everything that “did not exist before” must be eradicated now (abortion, gays, migration). However, it is impossible to return everything to mythical natural sources, if only because they never existed. It is worth digging a little further than everyday prejudices, and it turns out that everything in nature is much more diverse and exciting than we are used to thinking, and homosexuality in a number of societies is completely institutionalized.

A biologist, cultural anthropologist, and psychologist will have different variations on the definition and use of the concept of "natural" and "unnatural". At the same time, a rare utterance of an ordinary person presupposes a detailed and thoughtful study of terminology, comparison of versions, etc., rather, such terms become a rhetorical figure - a powerful and persuasive weapon against “others”, “others”.


Any legal convention begins with the fact that all people should be equal in their rights. For a long time, the understanding of which of the people has these rights has been revised. The abolition of slavery, the right to vote for women, the freedom to receive state support regardless of sexual orientation is a consequence of the struggle to win back the status of a human citizen, with all the rights assigned to him. Household discrimination in a civilized society now is an echo of the fact that humanity is still heterogeneous in its rights.

Thoughtless identification with a certain group overshadows people with their real experience and life history, distorts and refracts the view of them. We interpret the world in different ways, but this should not interfere with the existence of equal opportunities and equal rights. So why not reduce bias and prejudice in everyday life? It is impossible to see a typical gay, blonde or Muslim - they simply do not exist as “typical” people in general. And if you suddenly succeed, it's time to check whether this is not a symptom of everyday discrimination.

Photos: dule964 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) -

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