Position Statement on Homophobia


As an organization striving to be affirmative of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgendered, queer, and intersexed persons, NOMAS understands homophobia to be the individual and psychological response to those who do not conform to the expectations of binary heterosexual expression. Homophobia, as an irrational fear and loathing, is to be distinguished from heterosexism, which is the presumption of heterosexuality as the normative state, and identifies L/G/B/T/Q/I persons as deviating from the norm. Heterosexism is also the systemic imposition of those assumptions on all persons, including sanctions and punishments for those who “deviate”. Thus, a heterosexist person can be homophobic or not. NOMAS believes that fear of L/G/B/T/Q/I persons by those who are heterosexual, and the fear within a heterosexual person of being mistaken for a L/G/B/T/Q/I person, is grounded in the assumptions of heterosexual supremacy. The dominant group of heterosexuals, dominant because they have social/structural power to impose their view upon others, are enacting an oppression upon L/G/B/T/Q/I persons. To say nothing of the requirements of justice, this oppression is in violation of the stated legal principles of the United States: equal treatment under the law, equal protection by the law, equal opportunity guaranteed by the law, and equal access to housing and employment promised by law. Those laws which define marriage as the union of a single male and a single female are an expression of heterosexism. The unsubstantiated allegation that gay men molest children (when in fact the offender in molestation cases overwhelmingly identifies as heterosexual) is an expression of homophobia. Ongoing attempts to repair or “convert” L/G/B/T/Q/I persons are expressions of homophobia. The refusal to allow L/G/B/T/Q/I persons to serve in the Armed Forces, the intentional misrepresentation of public school toleration/diversity training as “homosexual recruitment”, the refusal to allow stable L/G/B/T/Q/I couples to adopt children, to have access to hospitalized partners, or receive death benefits; all these are reflections of the fundamental assumption of heterosexism. These all express and extend heterosexual privilege. As well as a weapon of heterosexism, Suzanne Pharr has rightly called homophobia a weapon of sexism, as it reveals the misogyny of a male supremacist culture’s hatred of the female. Sadly, many have accepted the cultural assumption that for a man to appear effeminate is to appear gay, is to be bad and worthy of abuse. These men act out a hostile and violent hyper-masculinity due to their rigid conformity to this oppressive cultural norm, and men, both gay and straight, pay for their deviance from the artificial norm with life and limb, as do women and others violating heterosexual standards. Heterosexist men are often more willing to tolerate lesbian sexuality, especially in the form of pornography, while working to deny these women equal standing before the law. The freedom to enjoy with impunity that which is condemned in public is another expression of sexist male privilege. NOMAS understands the hostility toward L/G/B/T/Q/I persons from L/G/B/T/Q/I persons to be an expression of internalized oppression, and another occasion in which the cultural assumption of male and heterosexual supremacy turns marginalized groups against each other, mystifying the dominant group’s role in the process. NOMAS recognizes that among those who do not uphold the heterosexist “one woman and one man” standard, many report that they have made a political statement by their choice of a sexual partner, and that many others report that they have “always known” that they did not conform to the heterosexist requirement. Regardless of whether L/G/B/T/Q/I is understood as nature, nurture or decision, NOMAS stands with these persons as fully entitled to live their lives free of legal oppression, and protected from intrusive prejudice.