“I’m not homophobic, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to show two married guys on prime time TV. My kids are too young to see that.” How many of you have heard this statement? I certainly have, it’s surprisingly common. Perhaps the worst thing about it is that the people who say this often think they are being progressive. “I’m not homophobic,” in other words “I accept everyone,” but “my kids are too young to see that,” in other words, “I lied about not being homophobic.” These same people often say “I don’t want my kids watching straight couples making out either,” and they lie about that, too. You see, when it comes to same-sex couples, they don’t want to see them portrayed as married, holding hands, or having a family picnic. When it comes to opposite-sex couples, they are fine with all of that. With opposite-sex couples, the line is drawn at making out, and quite often there’s no line at all. The idea that you can get around being a homophobe with the qualifying statement, “I’m not homophobic, but” is just plain insulting.
“My kids are too young to see that.” To see what? Two men holding hands? Two men portrayed as a married couple? Why is it okay for your children to see a man and a woman kissing, but not okay to see two men holding hands? Your children are not too young to see two people in love, but perhaps you are. Perhaps you are too immature to handle what you don’t understand. And by the way, your inability to handle that IS homophobic.
“I’m not homophobic, but” can end in a myriad of ways, every one of them homophobic. If you have to say it, you shouldn’t say anything at all; for if you have to say it, you are clearly speaking with ignorance (remember ‘ignorance’ means a lack of knowledge, it’s not an insult). Understanding what homosexuality IS means understanding that it’s as natural as heterosexuality. It means understanding that the idea that it’s a “sin” or a “choice” is absurdly untrue. Understanding what homosexuality IS erases “I’m not homophobic, but” from your vocabulary. Instead of being uncomfortable with your kids seeing a same-sex couple, you’re all of a sudden happy they are seeing love. Love can develop between people of any sex or gender, and when we understand that, we no longer recognize the validity of “I’m not homophobic, but.”
If you use this phrase, I urge you to dig deep and evaluate your views. It may be that you don’t think you’re homophobic, and it’s important for you to think hard about whether or not that’s true. If you decide that you are not, then “I’m not homophobic, but” should never again cross your lips. If you realize that you are, then you have some work to do. Outspoken Ally firmly believes that acceptance, resulting from a sincere exploration of reality, is a moral obligation. The interdependence of our social, political, and business structures relies on co-operation. This is not just a moral obligation that makes us feel warm and fuzzy, it really boils down to the matter of our reliance on one another for survival. We do best when unified. “I’m not homophobic, but” is divisive.