Is the term "homophobia" useful?
Or rather, is any term that uses the suffix ”-phobia” to refer to something other than fear useful and valid?
A common complaint against being labeled a homophobe is “I’m not afraid of homosexuals”. And yes, one definition of the word “homophobia” is a fear of homosexuals, so it would seem then that this word is inaccurate. However, another definition of the word refers to discrimination, hatred, and aversion. In this case, I think the word is more accurate.
But is using this word to mean the same kind of thing as “misogyny” and “racism” wrong because it automatically links it to fear, which may or may not be present?
The word “homophobia” was in fact coined by a psychologist who was fighting against the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. Rather, he suggested, anti-homosexuality bigotry was the irrational behavior, stemming from a mental illness called “homophobia”. The term soon became used to refer to the bigotry and not so much the alleged mental illness.
I personally see “but I’m not afraid of homosexuals” as a cop-out because when someone is calling someone a homophobe, they are not talking about fear, but talking about bigotry.