I have seen and read about homophobia for many years, from the streets in Eastern Europe to the recent debate on South African TV (‘Is Homosexuality un-African?’).
A report came across recently that Scott Lively–the American anti-gay crusader who stirred up gay-hate legislation in Uganda last year–was recently in Moldova warning legislators of the impending “outbreak of homosexuality” if they passed an anti-discrimination bill.
There are plenty of reactions to his trip, mostly critical. See JoeMyGod or Throckmorton and numerous others.
The usual vociferous pro and con voices are shouting at each other in public forums. Fortunately in quiet courtroom and research offices the truth about same-sex attraction as a natural phenomenon is proving itself legally and scientifically.
But regardless of these reasoned and studied efforts the homophobes continue their rants and raves. They will not drop their cause or cease their activities. One wonders why?
Homophobia is an Addiction to Anger and Fear
I think an essential force in all this fierce hateful drive against homosexuality is ‘addiction’.
To quote the American Society of Addiction Medicine:
“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in the individual pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. The addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships…”
It doesn’t take much to read into this definition the angry behaviors of many religious fundamentalists and evangelicals who spew vehement and toxic curses against homosexuality; who are defiantly clear-minded that it is a moral plague upon the earth, a demonic drive, an agenda to destroy heterosexual marriage, an anti-Christ, a sexual disease (along with AIDS)brought about by unnatural behavior–and they are sure that all this is a matter of choice. End of argument.
Their anti-gay words and actions are driven by an addictive craving and fear; a craving to feel angry which feels empowering, bold, forceful. And out of control. They cannot let go and cannot reach a middle ground of understanding. Hence their impairment in behavioral control.
They cannot let go because of two irrational forces in their lives, religious conviction and fear of human sexuality. The craving for religious fervor and the feeling of insensate fear are both irrational conditions. In homophobic addicts religious anger and sexual fear are both aroused emotional states of mind, separate and distinct from the more reflective and moderating cortex.
(The monastic life is a balance between these mental conditions, a deeply felt devotion and a reasoned management of that devotion. They don’t rant or bash the ‘enemy’ in public.)
For addicts there is no reasoned middle ground. A blind, tenacious, unquestioned conviction founded in unproven religious mythology becomes an hostile emotional substance that offers spiritual ease or relief against perceived enemies. Such self-righteous fervor they believe is to be shared.
At the same time fundamentalist spiritual addicts secretly feel a deep seated fear of their own sexuality (homo or hetero), that mysterious force within one’s psyche that is ever present and on the edge of overt expression. It’s an animal-like impulse for objects of desire. Such an urge is to be suppressed; it underlies their loathing toward homosexuals.
Religious fervor and sexual desire–one expressed the other repressed–grinding against each other in the ‘souls’ of addicts. This tension increases confusion and drives hateful emotional expression against a target (gays) outside themselves; it’s done in the name of another target (pleasing God) outside themselves; God is used as a political weapon.
Clearly we see here the “dysfunction in these circuits” that lead to the bizarre “psychological, social and spiritual manifestations.” Who in their right mind would profane a funeral with hateful posters quoting Biblical distortions! Who would encourage inhumane discrimination in foreign countries!
More than one religious clergyman has failed to balance these two internal forces–from Catholic priests to evangelical preachers. For clergy the result is incredible hypocrisy and crime. For laymen and self-proclaimed pastors the result is hate speech, irrational beliefs, gay bashing and dangerous legislation.
The great challenge is to find recovery. Homophobes want to ‘cure’ homosexuality, an impossible task. In return we ask if homophobia is curable. The answer, fraught with difficulty, is yes. We are born with a pre-wired sexual orientation. Babies are not born with anger and fear.
-Avert: Homophobia, prejudice & attitudes to gay men and lesbians
-Wikipedia: Homophobia s a range of negative attitudes toward gay people
-ADL: Homophobia is hatred or fear of homosexuals
-Statistics About Homophobia: National Organization for Women
-Racism and homophobia ‘worse in chaotic environments’