Dear straight friend reading this, if you consider yourself an ally, take a quick moment to yourself, and think: When was the last time you interpreted someone’s homophobic outburst as “a closet case” with a smug smile on your face? The last time you assumed a toxically masculine straight man using the f-slur was just “secretly gay” and “in denial,” completely content with yourself not only for being observant enough to scope it out, but also for having the pleasure of entirely excluding yourself from any kind of prejudice?
Well, boy, do I have some news for you: some people are just straight and hateful.
I’m in no way denying the existence of closeted gay or bi men who take out their personal issues on a community they don’t want to embrace– and I very purposely say “men” because this, more often than not, is a male issue and not quite something that encompasses the entire LGBT+ community– as it is a sad reality, I’m just pointing out that we may want to pay attention to another very common occurrence: straight people completely shifting blame of homophobia away from themselves.
Here’s the thing: homophobia is very, very common among heterosexuals. Pretending it isn’t is flat-out hypocritical and delusional. Looking at it statistically, even going by potentially outdated numbers claiming that 1 in 10 people are gay or bisexual, compared to the considerable amount of prejudiced people, it simply doesn’t add up. Unless of course you were to pretend homophobia isn’t that widespread, but what straight person would possibly do that?
The main issue behind the logic of claiming homophobes are secretly gay is that it completely erases the reality of said homophobia’s source. Pinning it on the LGBT+ willingly turns a blind eye to its starting point and forms a false image of what is essentially a vicious circle: closeted gay people ostracize LGBT+ members who are “out,” leading them into the closet, only for them to become bullies to their own people in turn.
Homophobes being closeted homosexuals isn’t the truth, and ignoring it simply because it’s more convenient for you as a straight person to entirely quash the prospect of being bigoted or ignorant by turning a blind eye to the facts is harmful and potentially malicious, even if that is not your intent. Not only are you condemning a community for their own suffering, you’re defying common sense: even if it was exclusively closeted individuals who had homophobic beliefs, where do those beliefs stem from? How can the concept of a “closet” for us to hide in exist, if not created by those who find us to be too divergent from the norm? It would be like blaming the existence of misogyny on women exclusively, as opposed to recognizing its roots in male-dominated society and seeing that incidents of internalized misogyny are only consequent of that.
Just like with the notorious “not all men” rhetoric, this is another instance of recognizing how a narrative doesn’t directly affect you, distancing yourself from it, and fighting against it. The fact that a good portion of straight people are bigoted against the LGBT+ community doesn’t mean that accepting it as a reality labels you a homophobe, and you should have the ability to view the matter objectively so as to oppose the actual root of the evil.
Claiming that the gay community–“gay” in this context being used as an umbrella term– is at fault for their own suffering is essentially a form of victim-shaming, apart from blatant distortion of the truth. Injustices against LGBT+ folk must be ended, and that can only be achieved through straight people taking responsibility for their actions and beliefs.