Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homophobia #1 and #2

I can cope with overt homophobia much better than I cope with ever so subtle homophobia. I think one dictionary describes homophobia as 'an intense dislike of homosexuals'. Cool, I know where I stand with that.

It is the subtle casual remark or comment that gets me.

My workplace has various divisions. One is well known to harbour many homosexuals. I won't call him a workmate as he is no mate of mine, but in front of me he made an unpleasant remark about where he used to work, in the division full of homosexuals. Should I out myself and pull him up? I have in the past. I did not this time. His remark was mild but if he went any further, I had my hand on the trigger. It is not just about me. It is about the workplace. Some may call it political correctness gone mad, but you just can't make anti female comments, racist comments, anti religious comments and homophobic comments in public. I learnt my lesson at work. A standing joke among our friends is oh, Sunday morning, can't make it, church you know, or variations on that. How was I to know that the workmate I was speaking was actually going to church on Sunday morning.

I just advise str8 guys to make sure they are only talking to 100% heterosexual males when they make anti gay comments or jokes. These pooftahs are insidious creatures. They are everywhere in guises you may not recognise.

That is one thing and fairly personal and ever so minor. The next I am very annoyed about. There was a same sex marriage rally in the city. I was on a tram and an anonymous voice boomed out of the loud speakers from the tram control centre about disruption to the services.

Sometimes when I am on a tram I have heard the control centre mention who the demonstrating group is that is disrupting the tram service, but not always. Often it is just 'a demonstration'. It was not the words that I heard from the person at the end of the microphone. It was the verbal raised eyebrows. I feel like complaining to Yarra Trams. Maybe I will, maybe not. They ought to have a policy as to whether the demonstrators who disrupt the service are named and shamed. It they are to be named, it should be in a non judgemental manner, without any vocal inflexion.


  1. Sadly Andrew its like any shift - it takes time and perseverence - its come a very long way from this time last century thank god - hopefully in time it be so accepted will not even be a subject for comment either way...I believe that it is manily men who have trouble with this issue...only my experience as most women i know are accepting - but some men I know its like its a threat or if they don't join in the jokes and criticism they might become suspect!
    My attitude is that as long as you don't hurt anyone else nor tread on their rights you should be left to live as you please and with tolerance...tolerance will come in time but might need a push every so often.

  2. I'm with Middle Child, it's mainly men (I've found) who pass the puerile remarks for no reason other than to identify themselves as str8 bois...errr boys.
    Seriously, I think they doth protest too much but, yeah, they can keep their bilious bulltish to themselves, no need to open their mouths and confirm everyone's opinion of them as farkwits.

  3. For some years I had a male colleague in the Public Service - strongly religious, wouldn't you know - who was not sympathetic to gays or lesbians but was shrewd enough not to articulate any denigrating commments in public.

    He set up a fresh structure in the division where we worked at one point which comprised five equal sections. He placed me as manager of one of those sections and allocated two gay men and one lesbian as the managers of the three sub-sections within my section.

    The four of us regularly chuckeled about this at our section management meetings and were convinced that his placement of us together was pure coincidence and that he was only aware of the orientation of one of the men and the lesbian.

    I'm pleased to say that whilst we four managers were together our section became the strongest performing of the five.

  4. I agree with Middle Child above - it's something that should gradually disappear over time. And often the people who hold these subtle anti-gay feelings aren't even aware that what they are saying isn't acceptable.

    I even think sometimes it's less a case of a subtle -phobia, more of people being aware of their audience and not necessarily tailoring their language. My pop, who lived his whole life in the western suburbs of Sydney, once took me to his work at a technical college and introduced me to a work colleague as "he's a Lebbo, but he's alright" - I remember feeling awkward at the time, but it was obvious this was just a generational issue where pop's idea of what was acceptable didn't line up with my idea of what was/is acceptable. Pop's intention certainly wasn't to insult this guy based on his ethnic background, and while I still think it's inappropriate to use words like "Lebbo", "Jap", "Homo", etc. sometimes it's less about casual prejudices, more about language and opinions changing and some people just not moving with it.

    But at the same time, I still find it hard to accept when anyone makes such comments. Then again, as someone who likes to think they're reasonably open-minded and accepting, I really hope I don't do the same thing without realising...

    Wow, that really turned into more of an essay than I expected. Perhaps I should have just written "I know"...?

  5. Thoughtful posts all. We have come a long way indeed MC.

    You are right Jayne. They do it press home how masculine they are.

    Victor, I have heard of that kind of thing before, unwittingly or otherwise. Where you worked sounds to have been very bureaucratic. Probably worse now.

    Me, my father was much the same. He had a mate who was Lithuanian born and my father called him Johnny the Wog. Sadly I think people accept these titles but I think they are wrong. I had an Indian born friend who did not look particularly Indian. I saw him receive a mouthful of abuse once, including your f. b. c. I pretended I did not see it but it made me realise what he had to put up with on a regular basis. He could take a joke about it skin colour, but I stopped ever making any joke after that and I told my partner to do the same. I also stopped making jokes at a friend who was not really fat, just a tiny bit overweight. In fact no matter how close the person is to me, I don't make any cracks like that at all...well except for age perhaps, which from my perspective, I can safely do now. Ah, I haven't written too much too.

  6. I think it's funny/ironic that you say all this.

    As you get bothered by the subtle homophobic remarks, I get bothered by subtle anti-semitism. And I've read stuff on your blog that I'd put in that classification.

    I'm never sure if you're joking...or I'm misreading you.

    It's really hard to tell sometimes.

    Sometimes people ARE making bigoted remarks.

    Sometimes people are making innocent remarks that are misunderstood or over-interpreted.

    I TRY to give people the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes I succeed.

  7. Dina, given how many Jewish readers I have, I am very careful about what I say. Actually, even if I knew I had one, I would be careful.

    It is not my intention to offend and at times I do go over the top to make a point. This often gets me into strife as people tend to misread what I think of as irony.

    I certainly have strong views on Israel/Palestine. I'd like to bang both sides heads together at times.

    If you have an example, feel free to point it out to me and I may learn from it.