Photo by / Nadia Snopek

The Home in Homophobia

Modern wisdom takes for granted that the real world is more authentic than cyberspace and that folks’ online façades are less reliable than their true lives. However, when observing peoples’ opinion on LGBTQ issues and culture, I’ve become inclined to trust what they reveal on social media as much as any real-life interactions we’ve had.

I’ve lost count of how many family members and close friends have deep-faked me into believing our relationship was based on love and mutual respect, and who gave no in-person indication my sexual orientation disturbed or frightened them. So, it’s always disappointing when those same folks share a meme about deviants trying to destroy the nuclear family, or when they’re in the comments section of a post about LGBTQ groomers talking about, “Factz!” or “They don’t wanna talk about this tho!”

Actually, I do wanna talk about that: Those are the vibes you got from me? That I’m interested in recruiting or confusing your young child, or that I’m part of a demonic plot to replace prayer with pedophilia? Yikes!

If confronted, they’d likely assure me I was somehow different from the queer people they defame; or their hostility is toward the illuminati overlords rather than unwitting individuals who’ve been conscripted as foot soldiers in an ungodly agenda; or, they have no problem with the choices I make as adult, but LGBTQ youth should postpone understanding and accepting themselves, or believing their existence is decent and deserving of dignity.

Many people, including some gay men and lesbians, hide behind the distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity, and indeed the overwhelming majority of hate I witness online is now triggered by trans-related debates. It’s hard to take shelter in the bigots finding a new favorite target, especially when so many arguments against transgender rights were made verbatim in opposition to gay and lesbian equality as recently as five to 10 years ago.

Homosexuals must not abandon our trans brothers and sisters simply because the social acceptability of homophobia seems to have expired. We ought to remember that in all human rights advancements there is a lag between what people believe and what they believe they’re allowed to say (or no longer say).

This era of doublespeak has me questioning another axiom of our times: the assumption that LGBTQ youth are subjected to fewer trials and traumas than previous generations. While they may be more protected from bullies at school and affirmed in mass media, for too many their least safe space is at home.

Even if they’re not directly punished or abused for being queer, they undoubtedly hear their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents saying things they can no longer say in polite company, complaining about the pace of change or the risk of cancellation. One’s family and home have never been a guaranteed refuge for LGBTQ children, but it must be uniquely torturous to hear the folks you love and admire mumble resentment and disgust while the rest of the world is whistling rainbows.