Homophobia and how to avoid it

There are a small proportion of students at Oxford who don’t like gay people, and an even smaller proportion who will admit it. Their views are straight-forward wrong, and they often end up being social outcasts because of them.

But the vast majority of cis straight people also contribute to homophobia, only they do so unintentionally and without malice. This is hidden homophobia: things that hurt LGBTQ people but are not deliberately meant to hurt them. Have you done any of these six things? If so, maybe it’s time for a change.

‘Ironic’ homophobia

We’re all privileged because we’re all at Oxford. But some of us have also experienced discrimination whether it be because of our race, ‘class’, sexuality, or gender identity. But some people think we live in a post-discrimination era, just because they’ve never experienced prejudice themselves. As a result, people feel entitled to make comments such as “that’s so gay” because they don’t really mean it. Nowadays there’s no actual homophobia, so gay people should just take it in their stride, right? Largely we have to – otherwise we’d spend our whole lives arguing, but you can’t assume that someone’s never experienced real homophobia unless you ask, and you don’t want to end up ‘ironically’ repeating what has been said by others who really meant it.

Fetishizing queer people

Porn showing ‘she-males’ objectifies trans people, and lesbian porn teaches boys that women who love women are doing so for the male gaze. Believe me, we really aren’t, and we really don’t appreciate being inappropriately touched or even just flirted with when we’re dancing with our partner in a club. Don’t watch lesbian and ‘she-male’ porn, and don’t objectify someone because they’re queer. Just treat them like a person.

I’ve personally experienced being introduced as “a lesbian” and I hated it

The “gay best friend”

Some people proudly refer to their ‘lezza’ or ‘gay’ friend because they think it shows how modern and exotic their friendship group is. I’ve personally experienced being introduced as “a lesbian” and I hated it. Think about whether you’re mentioning a friend’s sexuality because it fits in with the conversation, or because you want to show off how progressive and cool you are, and it goes without saying that no one wants to be called your “gay best friend”. Please, just stop it.

Standing by

Taking a live and let live policy can make your life more peaceful, and when you’re around older relatives who make the odd homophobic comment, that kind of policy is more understandable. However, it becomes toxic when you’re willing to watch a friend be discriminated against and do absolutely nothing because you don’t want to seem like a ‘social justice warrior’. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but they don’t have the right to use that opinion to bully and discriminate against others, so stand up for your queer friends whenever you can – that’s the only way to be a LGBTQ ally.

Too Much Information

For most people, talk about “how far you’ve gone” ended in secondary school but for gay people the questioning goes on and on. Everyone seems to want to know, ‘who’s the top?’ ‘what do lesbians do?’, and ‘have you ever used a strap on?’. You should never ask people, queer or not, unsolicited intrusive questions. It’s got to stop – other people’s sex life is none of your business.

The elephant in the room

Sometimes, people are uncomfortable about homosexuality but really want to show they’re not, so they bring up how much they like Ellen and how RuPaul’s drag race is their favourite show, just to make sure you know they are absolutely fine with you being queer. It’s great to try and make queer people feel accepted, but the best way to do that is to treat them like anyone else.