Friday, September 28, 2012

No homophobes

We all know that homophobia exists, but because of the rise of technology and social media, we now have proof of how widespread it is. Homophobic slurs have infiltrated our language so heavily that it's common for young people to fling around words such as "gay," "faggot," "fag," or "dyke," sometimes without understanding the homophobia and scorn beneath those words.

A web site produced by the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta, Canada,, tracks real-time tweets and calls on people to help put an end to casual homophobia:
"Let's put an end to casual homophobia. Speak out when you see or hear homophobic or transphobic language from friends, at school, in the locker room, at work, or online. Use #NoHomophobes to show your support. And visit one of our resource websites to get more involved." 
The web site acknowledges that sometimes when people say these words, they do not mean to be homophobic (just as people throw around the "R" word). But this language promotes "the continued alienation, isolation, and--in some tragic cases--suicide of sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ) youth."

It's actually extremely depressing. The figures in the screen shot above are the number of times those words have been used today, so far, on Twitter.

I don't typically hear people using homophobic language because I work in a professional services firm and I am not typically hanging out with large groups of teenagers and young people. I must admit that I am polite and conflict-avoidant at times and don't always call out people when they use the "R" word, although I know I should. I applaud this site for bringing this to people's attention and asking us to take a stand.

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