The Closeted Homophobe

Ah, the closeted homophobe. You won’t see them protesting, waving a sky-high “god hates faggots” banner, whilst shouting abuse at the nearest queer. Oh no. This is far more subtle. They might even say they support gay rights. However, what lies underneath is enough to show that, whilst LGBT+ people might not quite be satan himself in disguise, they sure as hell ain’t the paragons of virtue they make out they are. See if you’re guilty of being one.

They can’t be straight
We all know that one person, usually a male, who nobody can quite believe is straight. He might dress too boldly, have interests like dance or cheerleading, have a high pitched voice and always seems to be the boy friend; but never the boyfriend. And, even as the posterboy of camp, he insists to everyone that he is straight. But, still, the rumours continue; is he gay? Believe it or not, I have an excellent way to drive through all the speculation and get to the root of this sexual mystery. Brace yourselves. Is he sexually attracted to men? No? Then it appears – let me check my research – that he is not gay. Perpetually insisting that someone is gay is problematic for many reasons. Primarily, it assumes that a person’s sexuality can be predicted by their interests; which is detrimental for gays and straights alike. However, on a basic level of decency, it’s plain disrespectful to constantly backchat about people’s identification. Even if, later on, they do come out as gay, it’s not your job to be the gay detective and force them out the closet before they are ready. Furthermore, it makes it scarier for bisexuals to come out. After all, if even straight people aren’t believed not to be gay, what’s to suggest that bisexuals will be believed? Which leads me neatly onto my next point…

Bisexuals aren’t really a thing
It seems that most people can wrap their heads around the idea of people liking one sex or the other. But what about those who fall on the spectrum? Bisexuals can often be criticised for either being “attention seeking” straights or “haven’t-come-out-yet” gays. It’s hard to blame individuals here, when society at large seems to ignore the spectrum of sexuality; between 2013 and 2014, only ten British television characters were bisexual. Yes, everyone questions their sexuality at some point, but it’s not fair to assume that those who are out as liking more than one gender are simply confused.

I can’t be best friends with a gay person
I mean I like the gays and all but surely, I can’t get truly close with a queer person! What if they get the wrong idea? The horror! Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not so irresistible that every single gay person will be pining after your affection. Gay people can comprehend when someone is straight, and can shockingly make friendships with members of the same sex. Crazy, right? Considering how unheard of it is for straight men and women to be friends. Let’s say, worst case scenario, your gay friend ultimately confesses their attraction to you. You deal with it the same way you would a straight person. Being straight isn’t a points system, whereby the affection of a gay person suddenly makes you a little less straight. Gay people’s potential interest shouldn’t be such a huge deterrent.

Gay sex isn’t real sex
To most people, sex is penis in the vagina. Simple. Except not only is this defi nition inadequate when describing heterosexual sexual acts (what about rape? What if it’s only partially inserted?), it’s worse when it comes to attempting to describe homosexual acts. The worst is the notion that lesbians can’t have “real” sex, as there’s no real penis-penetration involved; hitting double points for being both homophobic and sexist. Sexual intimacy is no less real just because it’s between two people of the gender. Ideally, sexual education would include a broader, less hetero-normative viewpoint of sex, but until then, it’s insulting to dismiss one form of sex as more “real” than the other.

That’s so gay
No one here is actually kicking up a fuss at the thought of directly being compared to your socks, or maths coursework, or whatever. As with many of these smaller rights issues, it’s all about context. By using gay as a one-size-fits-all synonym for “rubbish”, it subtly reinforces the idea of gays being lesser than straights. You might not mean it as that, but in a world where people can literally be killed because of their sexuality, you can’t blame people for not wanting the social reminder that gays are thought of as bad.

There’s no straight pride
“But there’s no straight pride!” is a complaint I sometimes hear, from individuals baffl ed at the need for the LGBT+ community to “flaunt” their sexuality in our supposedly liberal UK society. Indeed, it’s harder to find examples of the UK being publicly homophobic. Woohoo. However, one in six LGBT+ people have experienced a hate crime over the past three years. You’re significantly more likely to have poor mental health and treatment if you’re LGBT+. These might not be the big news stories, but can be keenly felt in the community. Until I can stop reeling off statistics of why LGBT+ people are still disadvantaged (yes, “even” in the UK), the celebration of other sexualities needs to continue.

I’d never set foot in a gay club
Now, straight men not wanting to go to gay clubs might not seem like it’s a problem; after all the clue’s in the name – gay club. It only becomes troubling when members of the LGBT+ community reach out to their straight friends for their company and are met with flat out refusal. They might not know enough queer people to go clubbing with, or just want their company. After all, nobody wants to go to a club alone. The most common excuse I’ve heard usually comes from straight men, citing the terror of being flirted with by a gay man. It’s almost as if gay clubs are full to the brim with ravenous, wide eyed gay men who pounce on the new, straight meat. Common sense would dictate that, in a room filled with other queer people, if you were to tell people that you were straight they might fi nd a better way to spend their time than to try and convince you otherwise. I’m not denying that groping is a problem, in gay and straight clubs alike. However, it’s a part of clubbing that women have to deal with constantly, no matter what the proclaimed sexuality of the club (speaking as someone who’s been groped by straight men in gay clubs as well as straight clubs). It’s horrible, and should be challenged across the board. However, if your company means a lot to your friend, it’s worth the risk. Hey, you might even get to see what clubbing is like for women.

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