When Missouri voters recently approved a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, the lefty activists called those Missouri voters "homophobes." When U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum compared homosexuality to incest, polygamy and bestiality, he too was called a "homophobe." When conservatives opposed gays in the military, they were called homophobes.
Indeed, we've come to the point where the word homophobe is used to describe anyone who disagrees with the homosexual community, and as much as I support the rights of gays to, you know, be all gay and shit, I have a real loathing for this sort-of name-calling tactic. Especially when the word in question is "homophobe."
First of all, calling someone a homophobe because they don't agree with, say, gays in the military is no different than calling someone "unpatriotic" because they don't agree with the war, or calling someone "racist" because they want tighter borders, or labeling me a spawn of Satan because I don't happen to believe the Mount Soledad Cross belongs on public property.
"Homophobe" is another one of those words or phrases used to marginalize or squelch the voice of someone we disagree with, and I just can't believe gay folk-a group that knows all about the horrors and the dangers and the heartbreaks of an exclusive society-need to be reminded about how wrong and ugly it is to try to squelch the voice of anyone.
Secondly, not everyone who opposes gay marriage is afraid of gays. There may be some people who are, but there are all these other people out there who just think it's wrong, and other people who think it's ugly, and other people who really don't mind it at all but just believe that a different word should be used to define a queer union, and all kinds of other people with all kinds of other emotions regarding homosexuality that don't have anything to do with fear.
But lastly, and most significantly, the reason I loathe the word "homophobe" is because I just so happen to be one. Yes it's true, I, Edwin John Decker Junior-son of Edwin John Decker Senior, son of the son of Earl Decker, who sailed from Scotland in a tattered raft and battled bigotry with bare knuckles when he arrived-am a stark-raving homophobe.
Literally speaking that is. . .
The word homophobe was coined in 1971 by psychologist George Weinberg in his book Society and the Healthy Homosexual. He coined the term at a time when the country hated homosexuals in astounding numbers, some two years before the American Psychiatric Association dropped homosexuality as a mental disorder, and, with regard to psychology and civil rights, you could certainly say George Weinberg was ahead of his time. But as an etymologist? Well, don't quit your day job, George.
Typically, when a word is coined, a pre-existing root word is married with a pre-existing suffix, or prefix, or both, to form a new meaning. Such as the word erotophobia (fear of physical love), which combined the Greek root for eroticism (eros) with the Greek suffix for fear (phobos) and voila! You have a new word: erotophobia.
The problem with the "homophobe" coinage is that "homo" is not the root of "homosexual." Homo is the prefix. It means "same," as in, "homograph" (words that have the same spelling), or "homophone" (words that sound the same). So if homo means "same" and phobos means "fear," then homophobe means fear of the same.
Well, whaddya know? I am a homophobe. I do fear sameness. I do fear everyone looking and acting like everyone else. I do fear Clear Channel monopolizing all media. I do fear the homogenization of society-fear that someday all the houses on the block will be homochromatic (same color), that all the plants in all the greenhouses will be homogamous (same flowers), and that all the religions on Earth will be Homoousian (a Christian who supports the Trinitarian definition of Jesus Christ as being consubstantial with God the Father). Oh yeah, I phobos homos all right, just not the homos you're thinking of. I bet you didn't even realize, all those years, when you called someone a homo, what you really called them was "a samer."
Homophobe: "Hey, samer! You're so same.
Queer Guy: "So?"
Homophobe: "Samey samey same same! Look, everybody, it's a samer."
Queer Guy: "Same as who?"
Homophobe: "Uh, well, um, same as everyone else I guess."
As I said, George Weinberger may have excelled in the fields of psychology and civil rights, but he was a disastrous word-maker. The man no language skills does he got. And the damage he did to the English dictionary is yet untold. For instance, what will his sloppy word-coinage do to the meanings of other words with the homo prefix?
Will the word homograph become a synonym for gay porn? Will homophone become a hotline for queer escorts? Does homeostasis now mean "the ability to stay gay, despite peer pressure, familial guilt or shock therapy?"
Oh, the list goes on.
Homologue is now "the incessant, unreciprocated chatter of your stylist as he cuts your hair." Homochromatic becomes the queer version of the old Andrew Dice Clay line, "She could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch." Homogamous is now the utterly futile attempt for gay men to stay faithful. And a Homoousian is a Christian who supports the Trinitarian definition of Jesus Christ as being consubstantial with God the Father-and is also a flaming bottom boy.
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