header image


This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

Interested in What I Create?


Thursday, June 09, 2016

entry arrow4:14 AM | The Meaning of Homophobia

I have a really good friend, a good and very talented man, and somebody I've worked with before so many times -- but his homophobia unsettles me. I've tried my bit of "setting a good example," subscribing to the notion that most homophobes are the way they are because they don't really have good friends who happen to be gay. I've tried enlightening discourse, going through intricacies of queer theory and narrating what I could the normalcy of gay lives. But there's really no stopping his entrenched view that my being gay is a rot of a life that begs scandal. That's his favourite word: "scandal." As in: "I pray that you won't be dragged into a scandal, Ian." Like my life is a pressure-cooker just waiting for a scandal to happen, just because I'm gay. I don't know what to do. Again, he's so good in so many other respect, but his homophobia is galling.

In my attempt to understand him, I see perhaps his religiosity as the final reason for his homophobia. He is intensely a fundamentalist Christian and although he doesn't quote verses from Leviticus to me, I feel those unspoken verses stab at me every time he opens his mouth and invariably calls me scandalous.

Homomphobia is the strangest thing. Long before I understood the full breadth of its psychology, I have always taken it as a kind of mask. I realised one day that most homophobes are really closeted gay men and women who see openly gay men and women as mirrors of their possible selves -- and because of the culture of compulsory heterosexuality (often violent) that they are embraced in, they lash out at these mirrors. The denial gets articulated as abuse -- sometimes verbal ("Faggot!" "Bayot!"), sometimes physical. It becomes their short cut to assurances that they are not, in fact, gay. It is internalised hatred.

In his article titled "Are Homophobes Really Gay?" for Psychology Today, Dr. Michael C. LaSala writes:

In a 1993 study, levels of homophobia were assessed among 64 men along with their sexual arousal (measured by increases in penile circumference) in response to erotic videos of heterosexual, same-sex female, and same-sex male encounters. Those who scored high on homophobia were more likely to also manifest sexual arousal in response to the videos of male homosexual encounters. In a more recent study it was found that men raised in authoritative households were more likely to repress same-sex attractions and to exhibit more hostility to gay people.

Emile Griffith, a recently deceased welterweight and middleweight champion, pummeled an opponent to death after he had called him an anti-gay slur, Griffith continuing to punch him in the head well after he had clearly won the fight. Though he denied he was gay or bisexual at that time, later in his life Griffith admitted to having had affairs with several men including a male partner who cared for him up until his death.

Add this anecdote to several others including that of right wing politician Larry Craig, who pled guilty to lewd behavior toward other men in an airport bathroom but who also championed anti-gay legislation during his political career, and Ted Haggard, leader of the famously anti-gay National Association of the Evangelicals, who resigned after it was discovered he was engaging male prostitutes.

Same-sex attractions have proven intractable throughout history and are notoriously difficult to extinguish, either by people who harbor them or societies that seek to repress them. As stated previously, there are over a half a dozen countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia where homosexual contact is punishable by death and many whose governments penalize such behavior with harsh prison sentences. However, Iran has a flourishing underground gay society and Pakistanis have been found to be the most frequent Googlers of gay porn. An acquaintance of mine who is a flight attendant and a gay male will attest that when he visits these homophobic countries, he is frequently approached by men for sex in hotels, gym saunas, parks and certain streets. So despite the obstacles of profoundly punitive laws and homophobic cultures, same-sex sexual behavior cannot be completely constrained—and this has been known for a long time.

Is my friend then gay? Could be. Who knows. My gaydar tells me his son definitely is, hahaha.

What galls me about homophobia, however, is when it gets manifested as bullying. Drown, a film by Dean Francis, is the perfect film that articulates homophobic bullying: it contends that it comes from an explosive cocktail of jealousy and dangerous desire. The film, according to its website, follows Len, "a Surf Lifesaving champion in the cloistered surf club, just like his father. But when the younger, fitter Phil arrives at the club, Len’s legendary status starts to crumble. Then Len sees Phil in the company of another man. Phil is gay. Over the summer, Len forms unexpected, confusing feelings for Phil. When Phil de-thrones Len at the annual surf competition, Len and his buddy Meat take Phil out on an intoxicated bender through the seedy city. Jealousy, homophobic fear and unrequited lust culminate in a tragic late night trip back to beach where Len seeks total oblivion."

Here is the full film:

It's tragic.

[Related: Ranker has a list of "16 Anti-Gay Activists Who Were Caught Being Gay." A funny, sad list. I tell you, the worst gay men are closeted gay men. They're very dangerous.]


Labels: , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich