A phobia is a fear. Agoraphobia is a fear of being exposed in an open space. Claustrophobia is a fear of being confined in a small space. Ailurophobia is a fear of cats. Taken literally, homophobia should mean "fear of mankind (or maybe men)." However, in our culture, the "homo" part of the word is shorthand for "homosexual."

I suspect that a lot of the so-called "homophobia" isn't based on fear at all, but is based on an irrational cultural revulsion at the the thought of homosexual sex, or else is based in hateful Christian scripture (though I note that there is distaste for homosexuals in even some Buddhist societies).

Perhaps it feels somewhat empowering as a gay to think that your very existence strikes fear in the hearts of heterosexuals, but I really believe that's the wrong analysis.

Tags: gays, hatred, homophobia, phobia

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The word homophobe originally was coined as a reference to the fear of others realizing you are gay or incorrectly mistaking you for being gay. It essentially means homo(sexual)phobia, or fear of homosexuals.

If we really want to get down into the weeds, it's only technically correct to refer to a gay man as homosexual. Homo, in Latin, means man.

It would only be technically correct to refer to a lesbian as a feminasexual. Femina is the Latin word for woman.

I suppose the technically correct terminology for a bisexual could be feminahomosexual, or homofeminasexual. (Perhaps the more preferred orientation, if there is one, could be placed first?)

In the end, the etymology is interesting, but I'm not sure how important it really is, unless the word is misleading, confusing or intended as a discriminatory pejorative.

Homo, in Latin, means man.

Yeah, but including the sense of "man" which includes the female (humans, humankind).

In that case, contrary to Gallup's Mirror, lesbians are correctly referred to as homosexuals.

In that case, contrary to Gallup's Mirror, lesbians are correctly referred to as homosexuals.

Yes, Unseen. Thanks for echoing the correction Kris made after you originally overlooked it yourself. Since we're compounding the point, let's note again that yours is incorrect:

"I suspect that a lot of the so-called "homophobia" isn't based on fear at all, but is based on an irrational cultural revulsion at the the thought of homosexual sex or else is based in hateful Christian scripture (though I note that there is distaste for homosexuals in even some Buddhist societies). Perhaps it feels somewhat empowering as a gay to think that your very existence strikes fear in the hearts of heterosexuals, but I really believe that's the wrong analysis."

The word homophobia, as I said, is based on fear (not on sexual disgust) and that's not on heterosexual fear of homosexuals, but on heterosexual fear of looking homosexual.

Originally, two gay men used it in reference to the fear heterosexual men had of being mistaken for gay if they engaged in "unmanly" behavior. Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke, gay activists in the 1960s, were the first to use the word homophobia in an English-language publication, writing for an audience of mostly heterosexual men:

"[Nichols and Clarke] wrote a weekly column on gay topics in Screw magazine, a raunchy tabloid otherwise oriented to heterosexual men. In their May 23, 1969, column —to which Screw’s publisher, Al Goldstein, attached the headline “He-Man Horse Shit”—Nichols and Clarke used homophobia to refer to heterosexuals’ fears that others might think they are homosexual. Such fear, they wrote, limited men’s experiences by declaring off limits such “sissified” things as poetry, art, movement, and touching." (Source p.7)

The word homophobia has taken on additional meaning in the last 44 years, but the prominent role you suggest sexual revulsion plays in its etymology just isn't there.

'Homosexual' is a malformed hybrid of Greek and Latin. 'Homo' means 'same' here, not 'man'.

You're right. The root word homo is Greek not Latin. I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing that out, Kris.

I’ve never heard of anybody being professionally diagnosed with homophobia.  I look at it more as a colloquialism to explain the irrational and hostile behaviors towards LGBT members of the community.

The term is also used to poison the well in political arguments in the same manner that 'misogyny' gets used in arguments against radical feminism.

I would think that "misogyny" (hatred of women) would be used BY radical feminists more than against them. Feminists are often accused of misandry, a distaste for or hatred for men.

Clarification---

that 'misogyny' gets used in arguments against radical feminism...

...by radical feminists.

Well, if you are asserting that radical feminists are often attacked by misogynists, that's trivially true.

I don't see anywhere that I've asserted that.  I stated as an aside that "homophobia" and "misogyny" are thrown out in a similar manner.  They are used to poison the well against people making political arguments against the LGBT and radfem communities.

The point being that "homophobia" (like "misogyny") doesn't get utilized in a clinical or professional setting for the most part.  It is a term that gets used as a colloquialism, or as an ad hom or poison the well attack in political/social arguments.

Think of these situations and tell me if any are cases of homophobia (in the context of afraid of contact with homosexuals and or disgusted by gay acts or both or neither):

"Oh god...I hope that gay guy isn't selected to work in my team".

"I don't want my children spending any time in the house of a homosexual".

"Hey guys...I have a new joke. Why did the fag cum all over his own face? Because his boyfriend likes his dessert warm and fresh" hahahahahaha. Good one. Hahahaha.

A group of "straight" guys in Russia who go onto dating sites to lure gay guys to their appartment where they videotape themselves with their shirts off beating up the victim ruthlessly and then uploading it onto youtube.

They aren't instances of true phobias in the psychological sense. 

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