Saturday, September 26, 2009

Open Forum: Does Heterophobia Exist?

We are all familiar with the term and concept of homophobia which is the irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals. But is there a fear and hatred of heterosexuals displayed by some in the gay community?

When gay people choose to isolate themselves and only associate with others like themselves, do some develop a sense of anger and frustration at the heterosexual majority?

There have even been isolated incidents of straight couples being verbally attacked by gay people screaming "breeder" at them and demanding they leave the gay village.

What about when a bisexual chooses a mate of the opposite sex, they are considered a traitor to the gay community even though they still remain in their bisexual identity.

There are also those who feel that certain efforts for marriage equality to be extended to same-sex couples, that deny granting benefits to unmarried heterosexuals is tantamount to being heterophobic.

So does heterophobia exist, is it growing, or is it a stretch?

24 comments:

Maria said...

I think it does exist in some form, although I don't know how much. Is it a fringe thing I wonder? Biphobia definitely exists as well (that's what the second paragraph is as well).

Anonymous said...

I'm sure, since statistically there are wingnuts everywhere, that there are some in the gay community as well. However, I wouldn't give it much more cred than that. The majority of gay/lesbian/bi community are accepting, tolerant, and overall good people. Let's all hope for marriage and adoption equality soon!

zoewhitten said...

Yes, heterophobia is real. I know because I suffer from it. Straight people scare the shit out of me. Maybe it was all those beatings I took from homphobic straight guys.

Homophobia is based out of ignorace of a people, though, and heterophobia is the result of a lifetime of abuse and being looked down upon. So one is not the same as the other, even if both conditions are real.

I am getting over my fear slowly. I married a straight man and engage in random "therapy sessions" to help get me over my fear of his straightness.

Diane J Standiford said...

I have known many gay people who are heterophobic. Their loss. I understand why, but...their loss. And absolute hatred of bisexuals is out there. (I have been happily, monogamously, illegally married to one for 30 years.) I don't know that it is growing...seems it shouldn't since we are on TV more and out of closet more and still many love us. All a circle I guess.

Anonymous said...

I think it does, but it's the ones who are isolated in the gay community and don't have any straight friends.

thegayte-keeper said...

I think it does exist and as homophobia continues to grow, so does heterophobia...

Anthony in Nashville said...

The idea of heterophobia is ridiculous!

Sometimes people spend too much time looking for "victims."

Dean Van de Motter said...

I think it's important to make the distinction between homophobia and heterosexism. Homophobia is a literal fear of same sex attraction. Heterosexism is a bias against homosexuality--a bias that appears to be based on hatred. I live in the gayest neighborhood in New York, Chelsea, and I have never witnessed any anti-heterosexual violence or speech here. But is there homophobia? Is there heterophobia? I honestly don't know. Fear is a much more difficult thing to gauge.

Maria said...

tell that to the bisexuals who are ostracized when they have an opposite sex partner Anthony. Oh let me guess-we don't count anyway right?

Anonymous said...

I don't think it exists I KNOW IT DOES.
I knew of this gay guy in my lgbt club
that would bitch and moan about bisexuals
and crap. he never called himself biphobic,
but says he's 100 percent proud to be
HETEROPHOBIC. it was really digusting because
there were sum straight men and women lgbt supporters in the club, and he still be be
saying his opinion. he also be harssasing the
bi ppl in the club!!! geez...one would think ppl would be a little more mature in college.

CrackerLilo said...

I think it can exist, theoretically, but not nearly as often as some whiny straight people like to insist. It is not, for instance, "heterophobia" to not even consider finding a person of the opposite gender attractive or to insist on one's rights!

For Zoe and others who've been burned by heterosexual people, I submit another term: "defensive prejudice." I think I invented it a few years back, but a term like that seems so necessary. Basically, it is prejudice toward a group that contains people who have hurt you.

In the case of bi people taking up with opposite-sex partners, I think that's its own special thing. It's taken as abandonment and betrayal. You were part of the struggle, and now you're taking the easy way out, even if you still identify bisexually and frequently say things like "She's so hot." (I was there.) I think it's a lot more about internalized homophobia--"S/he has a choice, so of course she'll ultimately choose that other way of life."

I don't cry for the unmarried straight people (and bi people in mixed-sex relationships) who can't get domestic partner benefits. They can--wait for it--*get married* already. DP benefits are basically a compromise, and not a very good one, either. If that makes me heterophobic, hell with it, I'll *be* heterophobic and will continue to be so even while I'm undressing male athletes with my eyes tomorrow afternoon.

Maria said...

I don't cry for the unmarried straight people "(and bi people in mixed-sex relationships) who can't get domestic partner benefits. They can--wait for it--*get married* already. DP benefits are basically a compromise, and not a very good one, either. If that makes me heterophobic, hell with it, I'll *be* heterophobic and will continue to be so even while I'm undressing male athletes with my eyes tomorrow afternoon." No, but that does make you sound ignorant. Just b/c people fall in love and get married doesn't mean they don't still care about the 'struggle". There are plenty of married straight allies and married bi people who help out a lot. Do you expect everyone to stop getting married just to make you happy? As long as they fight for your rights, that should be enough, and the least you can do is acknowledge that.

M said...

I think it's important to distinguish between heterophobia and like the above poster said, "defensive prejudice". I don't think there's a lot of the first one, but there seems to be quite a bit of the second one, and that feeds into biphobia as well. Being bi and having dealt with both homo and bi phobia I will sometimes have defensive prejudice towards both sides, although more towards the straights b/c they can actually get violent. What's important is to not let it take you over-don't assume all straight people are that way. If someone is saying they are an ally, get to know them and give them a chance. You'll find a lot of allies can be pretty cool :) Same with bis. Don't always assume we're going to take the "easy way out", as many of us don't. Though that's a misnomer, b/c hearing crap from both sides is not "easy". And just b/c you fall in love with an opposite sex partner, doesn't meant it's "easy". Love is love, gay people are always saying that. The "easy" way would be to just lie and say we are straight or gay, but we prefer to be honest. Don't hate us for being honest.

Queers United said...

A lot of the anger directed at bisexuals who have an opposite sex partner really should be considered biphobic, but because people think that a bisexual who has an opposite sex partner magically becomes straight they view them as heterosexual hypocrites.

What about jealousy of heterosexuals, can that constitute heterophobia? For example, when I see straight couples holding hands or kissing, I am upset, I feel like its so unfair that they have this privilege and nobody cares that they are doing it. Sometimes I secretly wish they would know what it feels like if someone gave them a dirty look, or said that disgusting stop that.

Cerberus said...

Yeah, there seems to be more defense prejudice than heterophobia, because there just aren't that many gay-dominated locations where heterophobia can exist in power differential and society at large is so overwhelmingly pro-heterosexual that it's hard for such prejudice to carry any form of social weight.

But defensive prejudice is fairly common and on mild forms, something I practiced even before I knew I was trans. It's just too much of a headache to go to somewhere you don't fit in where there's a possibility of being treated horribly and in terms of expanding one's social circle, there can be warning signs that make you reflexively worry even if it's nothing. My partner has this a lot more and has been worrying about "anti-christian bias", but it's totally responsive to the "Christian" community that exists in dominance.

I didn't have a word for it, but defensive prejudice is a good one that doesn't let one off the hook that it is a form of mild prejudice, but one more justified than the mild prejudice messages we all get in the opposite directions.

Because there really is a power differential that is important in talking about prejudice and -isms. Something that is just less present and insulting in a false equivalent sense of the word in "reverse' statements. Sort of an unwarranted vs earned prejudice as it were.

CrackerLilo said...

@ Cerberus: I think you have it exactly right about the power differentials. It's stupid to pretend that a member of a minority group can't be prejudiced, against a member of a majority or another minority. It's also stupid to pretend that a minority's prejudice against a majority comes from the same place as the reverse and should be treated the same way. I think most people who cry "heterophobia" are being disingenuous at best.

@ Maria: I was tired when I wrote, but you misinterpreted my post by miles. For one thing, I'm a bi woman too (and I thought made it pretty clear, and I read and enjoy your website). For another, I was responding to the idea of people in mixed-sex relationships wanting civic and corporate domestic partner benefits. I find it irksome because they can marry and DP benefits are intended for people who can't. Far from saying "straights should go without," it's more, "if straights want marital benefits, they should go ahead and get married 'cause they can."

White Dwarf Star said...

I've never encountered heterophobia, but I have encountered gay men who seem to have a real hatred for straight women -- "fag hags" and "fruit flies" specifically -- and I find it utterly bizarre.

Brian said...

There is, point blank, no such thing as heterophobia.

Isolated insults might be thrown--very occasionally--at a straight person. But there is no systematic form of oppression that sets up homosexual as the norm and punishes anyone who steps outside of it.

This is like when people claim that "reverse racism" exists. That phrase was created in dangerous disregard for how oppression works.

Often when straight people feel targeted by anti-heterosexual prejudice, they forget how privileged they are in the broader culture, and how much of a strain it puts on queer people to interact with them. Oftentimes, this privilege leaks out and queer people might call out homophobia or transphobia--and the cisgender/hetero person might read that as "hostility."

Anonymous said...

I've only encountered heterophobia online, and hoped it was just one particularly bitter troll. That it happens out there in meatspace saddens me.

Being a member of one or several minorities is no excuse for bigotry, and bigotry directed at a group of people who are in the majority is still evil.

Being wary of certain kinds of people because of bad experiences with them is not heterophobia. Harassing people because of their tendency to fall for people with a different set of plumbing is. And it does happen.

Chanel said...

It's very common where I am.
My fiance and I are both pan, but because he's fallen in love with a girl, he's been ousted from the gay community. Half of his old friends wont even speak to him any more, and the others have made remarks usually with the word "digusting" in them.
Meanwhile, I've been told that I don't really like girls and I'm just doing it because it's popular... Even though I'm absolutely certain of who I am.

I loathe hypocrisy. I really do.

Anonymous said...

Heterophobia does exsist anyone who says different is just plain unedgucated it steemed from homophobia we have the homophobic heterosexuals to thank for that ! I am sereous I love bisexual people you didn't get to select your sexual orientation. Hear this I am gay the other day a great friend of mine was paying for gas at a gas station I came in the gas station and this heterosexual male started verbaly attacking me calling me homophobic slers prior I hadn't done a thing to him I cursed him out and so did my friend not one strait person stood up for me and there were plenty I rest my case heterophobi is a result of years of homophobia and I should have kicked his a** !

Anonymous said...

It does exist homophobia exist heterophobia exist because of it that is just the way it is sorry Im gay I love straight people but I don't fancy them guess that makes me homophobic they have always been mean to me as well!

Anonymous said...

No! Heterophobia does NOT exist, as well as "reverse racism" or "misandry." This excellent quote by Malcolm X will shed some light to the problem:

"If I have a cup of coffee that is too strong for me because it is too black, I weaken it by pouring cream into it. I integrate it with cream. If I keep pouring enough cream in the coffee, pretty soon the entire flavor of the coffee is changed; the very nature of the coffee is changed. If enough cream is poured in, eventually you don't even know that I had coffee in this cup. This is what happened with the March on Washington. The whites didn't integrate it; they infiltrated it. Whites joined it; they engulfed it; they became so much a part of it, it lost its original flavor. It ceased to be a black march; it ceased to be militant; it ceased to be angry; it ceased to be impatient. In fact, it ceased to be a march."

Anonymous said...

I know Heterophobia exists because both my late husband and I have been victims of verbal abuse from groups of gay women because we were and are Heterosexual. Even though we had never verbally abused any of them.

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