Homophobia And Its History
Education News | Jun-08-2021
The word, Homophobia is a combination of two words, Homo – a shortened version of the word homosexuals and phobia, meaning fear. Hence, homophobia can be defined as a fear of homosexuals. It can range from a mild dislike to absolute loathing of them.
Homophobia is a culturally perpetuated fear or preconceived notions against homosexuals, which can come out as legal restriction or in extreme cases as bullying.
According to historians, homosexuality was widely accepted in the pre-modern world, it was during the middle ages did the intolerance towards homosexuals grew, especially in the Christian and Islamic communities. Sigmund Freud, a prominent psychologist, theorized in 1905 that homophobia is a result of a child’s upbringing. He stated that the absence of a strong father figure in a child’s development can leave them craving for male affection and thus turning them gay. He even provided parents with child-rearing tips, to avoid turning their sons gay.
With this theory, a lot of homosocial organizations like sporting clubs and the Boy Scouts were developed, to provide boys with strong, heterosexual, male figures in their lives while their fathers were spending long hours at work due to industrialization. They thought teaching boys traditionally masculine things and girls traditionally feminine ways will prevent them from becoming homosexuals. Those who did not display traditionally defined gender-specific attributes like emotionless disposition for men and emotional expressionism for women were often coded as being homosexuals.
The negative stigmas towards being homosexual are so strong that people are forced to misrepresent themselves (referred to as being in the “closet”) to feel accepted by society. This gave rise to Homohysteria. Homohysteria is a culture where individuals are concerned with proving their heterosexuality because of the stigmas surrounding homosexuality. While cultural homophobia is when citizens don’t believe homosexuality exists and thus there is no need to prove their heterosexuality.
In the 1980s, the rise of AIDS gave rise to homophobia and homohysteria and also brought the spotlight onto the homosexual community. This in turn also gave rise to the advocacy groups fighting for gay rights. At the start of the 21st Century, AIDS became recognized as a concern for heterosexuals as much as homosexuals. This in addition to the greater visibility of gays and lesbians, decreasing homophobia, more are more people felt comfortable “coming of the closet”. Sexual minorities started being given the same rights as heterosexuals, including some jurisdictions like marriage or state-recognized civil partnerships.
In the early 21st century, youth has begun to rapidly disassociate themselves from homophobia and became comfortable with expressing a range of gendered behaviors regardless of their sexuality.
By: Deeksha Goyal
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