No room for irrational thinking

May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

by Mary Turner
HIV/AIDS Health Columnist

May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. A phobia is a deep-seated, irrational fear or loathing of something.

People who express homophobia, transphobia and/or biphobia really don’t understand why they feel the way they do about those whose sexual orientation is different (or not) from their own. They may express aggressive, bullying behaviors because they have learned from family or friends that this is an appropriate way to treat others who are different.

If so, they’ve been rewarded for these attitudes and behaviors and may never have thought about whether they actually agree with them. They may express these behaviors because they are afraid that they may be more like individuals in the LGBTQ community than they want to admit. Being mean and intolerant is a way to reassure themselves that they are not.

Lastly, they may express these behaviors because they are sociopathic buttheads who feel gratified when they cause harm to others.

Regardless of their motivation in being scared and hurtful, your motivation should be on developing resilience and protecting yourself physically and emotionally. It’s important to remember that much of what is driving the awful behavior of homophobes is that their thinking is irrational. In other words, it doesn’t make any sense. You can’t understand the way they think and you will hurt your brain if you try.

Ignorant people can learn to think and behave differently if they choose to and have opportunities to learn. Those who are simply mean will remain so because it protects their own psyches and egos. Try not to take it personally when people say or do stupid stuff. It really isn’t about you as a person because they don’t see you as a person. They see you as a label. Be yourself and make no apologies for who you are.

Surround yourself with supporters. These can be friends, associates, family members, allies or advocate groups. Our social networks can help us cope with many things including hostility from or rejection by those who feel threatened by us. Remember that sex is sex regardless of orientation. Straight sex can be just as “sinful” as gay sex because the only thing that changes is who’s engaged in it.

My personal theory is that if more of these hateful souls would get laid more often, they wouldn’t focus so much on what everyone else is or isn’t doing. But that’s just my opinion.

Take every opportunity to educate people. The similarities among us far outweigh the differences. Call people out when they say hurtful things, but do so in a way that doesn’t reinforce their incorrect stereotypes. Remember that you’re not the irrational one.

On the other hand, the threat of physical violence is often harder to stand up to, but it is imperative that you do.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a document entitled Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide. The first step listed in the guide is to act. This involves reporting the threat or incident and rallying your friends, allies, community leaders and others to take a stand against the person(s) and the behaviors.

Silence is interpreted as acceptance of the behavior and it will continue until it’s stopped. It takes a village to create a community that is accepting and nurturing. Find your village and be who you are.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – May 15, 2017 @ 7:10 a.m.