Homophobia: Our Number One Enemy
The Pulse shooter was no doubt the worst contemporary example of what homophobia can do when taken to the extreme. (Remember Hitler?) The evidence is pretty solid that Omar Mateen was conflicted in his own sexuality, probably because of his conservative ethnic background and his intolerant wacko father. He married twice and beat both his wives, was a visitor to gay hookup sites and was even known by Pulse employees and patrons.
The long assumed hypothesis that men who are homophobic are actually lashing at the gay tendencies in themselves they cannot accept was recently borne out by a study conducted by the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Two groups of men, one who were identified as homophobic, the other well-adjusted heterosexuals, were shown a series of sexually arousing photos, some depicting str8 behavior, others gay. The men from the homophobic group tended to spend more time on the gay oriented pics versus the heterosexual group who spent equal time on both.
Dealing with an individual homophobic is one thing But how do you deal with homophobia on an “en mass” basis?
It was the mid-seventies and George, my ex, and l had gotten our first apartment together on Staten Island, New York City’s forgotten borough. Now Staten Island was at that time and probably still is the most Italian American county in the U S. Hey, l’ve got nothing against Italians – Italian men are at the top of my hit parade followed by Middle Eastern guys (my ex is Syrian American) – but you can’t deny the fact that when any conservative ethnic group is concentrated in one geographic locale to the point everyone is practically kissing cousins, distorted attitudes against people who are considered “outsiders” will breed. Being Catholics doesn’t help either.
One night G and l decided to check out a restaurant in our neighborhood. It was obvious from the moment we walked in we were the only male couple in the place. The hostess gave us a twisted smile as she led us to our table way in the back by the kitchen even though there were a few open in more desirable spots. We waited for our server to greet us and give us our menus, but after twenty minutes of sitting there like two boobs while the strange glances grew louder, l quietly told G, “Get up. We’re leaving.” Even though he had a crazier temper than me, he gave me a quixotic look but followed sheepishly behind me as l rose and walked ever so slowly to the entrance. I wanted to make damn well sure as many of the patrons in that damn place saw us. Then turning around and facing the sea of hetero faces l shouted at the top of my lungs, “Our money is as good as anybody else’s” and walked out.
History has since proven how much society at large wants our gay bucks. Though just a few years ago down here in Lauderdale, George and l had a similar experience at a “Thank God It’s Friday. (No, G had left his pumps home and it was a no mascara day for me.) This time we left quietly, but the next day l wrote a complaint letter to the Customer Relations Department, corporate, accusing TGWF of discrimination against gays in what is supposed to be one of the gay friendliest towns in America. Included with corporate’s letter of apology were two fifty dollar gift coupons to give them a second chance. I guess my complaint trickled down to that restaurant because the next time we went there to eat we were treated like royalty. Maybe there was a code on the coupons, “Treat them well. We don’t want to turn off our gay clientele.” And if there was? We got two free dinners didn’t we?
Fast forward to our current Presidential campaign, one of the craziest in our history. Pence, Trump’s running mate, is perhaps the most homophobic politician in recent memory. As governor of Indiana he proposed HIV funding be diverted to underwrite conversion therapy camps. His reasoning: eliminate homosexuals and you eliminate AIDS. I guess no one told him in places like Africa, it is largely a heterosexual disease.
So if God help us, the Republicans win the White House, given the research done in Geneva, we may have the first closeted vice president in our history. Only he won’t be one to win any awards from ACT UP.