If you are not familiar with the lingo of the LGBT community, you might not know the definition of the word homophobia. However, it is important to know the meanings of this and other words in order to engage in meaningful conversations that will benefit the community as a whole.
The last half of the word, -phobia, refers to the fear of something. You can see this ending in all kinds of words that are common in our society. For instance, arachnophobia indicates a fear of spiders. There are countless others, and they all share the same suffix. One of these is homophobia.
Homophobia is the fear of homosexual people in our society. Like other phobias, there is not a rational fear for people to be afraid. This is a condition that can be corrected if the person is open and willing to understand more about the community. For some, misinformation about the LGBT community is at the heart of their homophobia while others have developed the prejudice based on one or two negative experiences.
However, as with any group of people, you cannot judge everyone by one or two folks who might not have been pleasant. After all, there are plenty of straight people who are not very nice or have done things to hurt others.
The good news is that homophobia is not as rampant as it once was in our society. Today, there is growing awareness and acceptance as people realize that homosexuality is not a disease nor is it contagious. While these thoughts might seem extreme and ridiculous, there have been many people who lived under these beliefs for their entire lives.
However, as the media shows the reality of life for members of the LGBT community and people realize that these are our neighbors and friends, the amount of homophobia in our country is on the decline. As older generations who were raised with that type of thinking are replaced by younger citizens with open minds, one day homophobia might even be a thing of the past. At the very least, it will be seen as the nonsensical prejudice that it is, by members and non-members of the LGBT community alike.
Now that you understand the definition of homophobia and a bit of the history, you can see why it is important to educate people who don’t understand and accept everyone for who they are.