Last March, I pointed out why I don’t use the word, “homophobia,” a term which many gay people and even those in the media use to describe anti-gay attitudes:
Simply put, I don’t like the word. I understand that it means an aversion to homosexuality and gay people, but as a lover of words, I also know that it is derived from Greek words meaning same (â€homoâ€) and phobia (â€fearâ€) so it really means fear of sameness whereas I believe that most people described as â€œhomophobicâ€ are really afraid â€” or incapable â€” of understanding, appreciating and/or accepting difference.
Reading Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It , I learned that he also has difficulty with the word:
“Homophobia” was always absurd: people who are antipathetic to gays are not afraid of them in any real sense. The invention of a phony-baloney “phobia” was a way of casting opposition to the gay political agenda as a kind of mental illness: don’t worry, you’re not really against same-sex marriage; with a bit of treatment and some medication, you’ll soon be feeling okay.
While I do believe there are people who harbor a fear of gay people, I think Steyn is onto something. I’ve been amazed to discover the number of people who cast those who favor the traditional definition of marriage as “homophobic” or “anti-gay.”
It seems that all too many use the term “homophobia” to dismiss the opponents of same-sex marriage. If they were serious about gay marriage, instead of bandying about this term, they would make an effort to understand their adversaries’ arguments and then take the time to rebut them.