Homophobia: what does it really mean?

by Zac Alstin, MercatorNet

In discussing same-sex issues, let’s scrap the labels and return to facts.

According to the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC), as of 2009, men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for approximately 2 percent of the US population, but 56 percent of people living with HIV. This same demographic suffered 61 percent of all new HIV infections that year.

The CDC uses the concept of MSM because actions speak louder than words: actual behaviour is a better predictor of disease risk than self-identification. But even though actions speak louder than words, words are much easier to interpret. In fact, words are too easy to interpret, and in our contemporary verbal glut we are at risk of losing touch with the meaning embodied in real actions and real objects.

Here’s the problem: the CDC uses the term “MSM”, and we discover to our surprise that we don’t really know how to interpret such a concept. If only they’d said “gay men”, we could all slide neatly into our prejudices. MSM is a fact; “homosexuality” is an idea, an interpretation, an ideology, a historical movement, and a rallying point in the culture war. Does MSM equal homosexuality? Some would answer “yes”, others “no”, and thus we are back in the realm of interpretation.

If we are going to be intellectually honest, we should try to capture the truth beneath mere interpretation and prejudice. But escaping from an established framework is hard work. Some people frame the debate over same-sex marriage as an attack on traditional values by a gay lobby intent on normalising and gaining public affirmation for their lifestyle choices. Other people frame the debate as a homophobic bulldozer of religious conviction crushing the basic human rights of a long-victimised minority.

How can we reach the truth?

Read here

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