Recent studies have shown that homophobic people may in fact harbor homosexual feelings and therefore respond negatively to homosexuality out of fear of their own emotions and impulses.
I believe that this research can be used to fight bullying of gay kids, teens and young men. Let’s dis-empower the homophobes by playing into their fears.
Follow me for a moment. What is homophobia? Homophobia is negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality. What are homophobes? Homophobes are people that possess these negative feelings and attitudes. If we can turn the tables around and put the homo onto the homophobes then perhaps they would be afraid of showing any signs of homophobia? If everybody knew that homophobes were actually closet homosexuals then these homophobes would be hesitant to outwardly bully people based on their sexual preference. Through a public awareness campaign in schools, advertisements and social media we have a possible solution to reduce bullying of young gay teens and men.
I honestly believe that bullying is one of the most challenging issues facing gay youth but it’s also one of the most difficult issues facing educators and parents. Bullying has been around for as long as there have been teenagers and it seems that pockets of teenagers will always pick on others no matter what steps are put in place to try prevent it. The approach I’m suggesting plays into teenagers fears, similar to anti-smoking campaigns play into adults fears i.e “If you smoke, you will get cancer” or for the homophobia example “studies show that people who bully gay kids may be gay themselves”. Now, I don’t mean to associate homosexuality with cancer but teenagers are a simple minded group, they just want to fit in and will do anything to do so. If we can exploit this need to be the same as everyone else then I believe we have the first practical solution to fighting gay bullying.
What do you think is the solution to stopping gay bullying?
(Read this Huffington Post article for more information on the studies of homophobia).
Photo credit: Jean-Francois Carly
on a personal note, the one tyrant from my particular year group turned out homosexual himself. hindsight is a wonderful thing, only now can i look back and see that his fear, low self esteem, and insecurities where the driving force behind his actions.
i was liked by my peers and school community, heck, i was even deputy head-boy. i was ‘out’ by year twelve, and most where accepting – which may seem odd, as i went to a public high school in a low socio economic area – however the days in which i was brought down by simple minded taunts of homophobia, i did have a few lows.
it humours me that the face of this particular individual can now be seen on grindr. it is here that i can only smile, reflect and grow. i must thank him to a certain degree -not that our paths will ever cross again- but because of him, i am a stronger, proud gay man.
To be honest, I’m not sure how well I see this approach working. I don’t think we need to assume that every homophobe is gay – statistically, I’m sure it just isn’t possible. Also, trying to push a message that all homophobes are secretly homosexuals does two things: one, it puts people in to a sexual box that they don’t need to be put in to, especially at a young age. Two, it enforces the message that the only way we can relate to someone else’s discrimination is if we ourselves suffer it. It’s like saying that only non-white people can understand racism, or that only women can be feminists. That’s not true. We should expect more from people, rather than assuming the only way they’ll appreciate the rights of a demographic is that if they themselves are part of it. I think using ‘being gay’ as a scare tactic is not a good idea! Teenagers can understand more than, “Hey, you might be gay and not know it, so careful!” – I think, “Hey, you’re whatever sexuality you want to be – and that’s great! Let’s make sure other people are confident and secure that they can be too” is a much more tolerant message