Social Question

Aster's avatar

What would be a word similar to but different from "homophobic?"?

Asked by Aster (15577 points ) 4 weeks ago

To me, homophobic means a person who has a phobia against gay people. They’re disgusted and horrified at what gays are and what they stand for. I don’t think this is how the majority feel about gays. I certainly don’t. I like them.
What would be a good word with lasting possibilities for the many people who are uncomfortable around gay people, maybe embarrassed by them and , although not phobic, just wish to avoid socializing with them? A word more descriptive than , “jerk.”

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67 Answers

janbb's avatar

Prejudiced

ragingloli's avatar

bigoted

syz's avatar

^^ Those work.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Homophobic covers all of the situations you describe. I think I would find it worrying if we had a need to develop multiple words to describe the nuances of negative feelings that are specifically about gay people.

gailcalled's avatar

Narrow-minded, discriminatory, blinkered.

Pachy's avatar

CHICK-FIL-A-ists.

Brian1946's avatar

Credit to ^ : Chick-Fil-Aholes.

ucme's avatar

Ignorant
Retarded
Old fashioned

kritiper's avatar

-phobic means fear. Somewhat inaccurate when used as homophobic unless that is exactly what is being described. It might be more accurate to replace this suffix with -biased, or -prejudiced. Just to say “biased” or “prejudiced” or any of the other terms is too broad in definition to be precisely specific. Most of the time when I see “homophobic” used, it isn’t to describe someone who just doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with gays, it is to label someone as fearing gays which isn’t specifically accurate. Better usage might be “homo-biased” or “homo-prejudiced.”

SecondHandStoke's avatar

“Homophobic” Is a misnomer.

There is no proof whatsoever that one that has a difficulty with any aspect of homosexuality actually fears homosexuals.

“Phobia” has a negative connotation. It is exploited by some to cast those that don’t completely tow a certain line regarding homosexuals in a negative light.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@SecondHandStoke toe a certain line.

What, people sometimes misuse a word for political reasons? I am shocked. That doesn’t have any bearing on what the word means.

You’re right in saying that homophobia is not always about fear, and is thus something of a misnomer. Still, it’s the word we have.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I don’t see why there would need to be a word other than “homophobic.” Few people actually fear homosexuals, but why does the word need to be torn apart and taken literally? It’s the accepted term for someone that dislikes gay people. No need to complicate it.

“I hate f*gs. Two dudes together? That’s disgusting.”

“Gay people freak me out. I don’t care what they do in their bedrooms as long as they stay far away from me. It gives me the creeps.”

“Being gay is wrong because the Bible says so. They should stop engaging in their sinful behavior and find Jesus. I stay away from them because they refuse to stop.”

^All those folks are homophobic. Period. Would they admit to being homophobic? Of course not, but they’re wrong if you’re using the word according to the definition accepted by our society/culture.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

“It’s the accepted term for someone that dislikes gay people. No need to complicate it.”

I didn’t sign off on it.

And since when should anything stop being evaluated and questioned?

“Homophobia”, like “Diversity” and “Tolerance” are just meaningless buzzwords that should be taken to task.

They serve no purpose other than to make the user feel better about themselves.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Aster “What would be a good word with lasting possibilities for the many people who are uncomfortable around gay people, maybe embarrassed by them and , although not phobic, just wish to avoid socializing with them? A word more descriptive than , “jerk.””

I think “homophobic” covers it pretty well actually. A phobia doesn’t explicitly have to be pants-shitting fear, but can be an anxiety or aversion to something.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ The underlying thinking here is simple, though never admitted:

No one can have an issue with homosexuality without some sort of irrational, emotion based bias.”

“Therefore, I, Having no issue with homosexuality, am clearly the more rational, and am therefore the superior being.”

“Therefore those that like me, use the word “homophobic” to suggest that those that do not think exactly as I do are irrational are also more enlightened beings.”

dappled_leaves's avatar

@SecondHandStoke That’s funny. What are the possible rational issues with homosexuality? Religion obviously doesn’t meet the criteria.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^Not the issue.

The issue is that we increasingly live in a world where conformity is exalted, right down to the level of our very thoughts.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@SecondHandStoke Well, that’s an interesting perspective and all, but it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

But it does actually.

The OP speaks of the quality of the word at issue.

My point is that the quality of the word “homophobic” is inherently judgmental.

I don’t care what side you are on: Bullying with words is bullying with words:

It doesn’t matter to me if that word is “faggot” or “homophobe.”

ragingloli's avatar

it is not inherently judgemental. you just interpret it that way, because you want to.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Explain how the term “homophobe” isn’t manipulative loli.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@SecondHandStoke It is no more manipulative than the word “racist”. Yes, life would be lovely if we didn’t need such words, but in the one we live in, we do.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

I’d rather not be told what I need.

I’ll make up my own mind.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Sure, make up your own vocabulary while you’re at it.

majorrich's avatar

Something like.. uh.. Heterocentric.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@SecondHandStoke

If I ever hear a rational stance against homosexuality then I’ll concede the argument. I’m open ears, but thus far I’ve never heard that rational stance.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

@Darth_Algar:

Like I’ve already stated above that isn’t what my argument is about.

The OP has brought the word “homophobic” into question.

Am I allowed offer my take on it or not?

I have stated that I see the use of “phobic” as derogatory and a misnomer.

What’s the problem?

@dappled_leaves:

Make my own vocabulary?

Easy on the straw please.

rojo's avatar

hemolytic?

ucme's avatar

Pope

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I’m not aware of a word that accurately describes what you describe, but I agree entirely that homophobia doesn’t cover it. Homophobia is a misnomer, in that an extremely small number of people actually fear homosexuality, but the common understanding of the word is acceptable in describing bigots like those at Westboro.

Homophobia doesn’t describe a general, benign discomfort with homosexuality. It is entirely possible to be uncomfortable with witnessing homosexual affection, without believing that it is somehow wrong.

DominicX's avatar

If you take issue with the term “homophobic”, you should take issue with the chemistry term “hydrophobic” which refers to a substance that has little or no affinity for water. It doesn’t mean the substance has an “irrational fear” of water and personally I think that it is a mislabeling of these substances and unfairly pigeon-holing them. Maybe they just think water is flaunting too much—can’t they just being uncomfortable around it without being labeled “hydrophobic”? Stupid liberal chemists.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@SecondHandStoke “Am I allowed offer my take on it or not?”

No, you’re not.

DominicX's avatar

If someone were uncomfortable and embarrassed around black people, what would you call them? If I said I was fine with seeing two white people kissing but don’t want to see a black and a white person kissing, what would you call me?

Maybe “racist” would be too strong in that case, but I don’t think anyone would dispute that the person is prejudiced in some way. So why shouldn’t it also apply to people who feel that way about homosexuals?

livelaughlove21's avatar

Why is is always the homophobic dude that has an issue with the word “homophobic”? I suppose for the same reason the person who feels free to comment on other people’s bodies argues that the term “body shaming” is a meaningless buzzword. So who exactly is out to make themselves feel better here? Reminds me of the old, “I’m not racist. My _________ is black and I have no problem with him/her” argument. People, I swear…

@DominicX Racist isn’t too strong at all. That’s what it is.

DominicX's avatar

You know, “homophobic” isn’t the only word used this way, but it does seem to be the only one people take issue with.

What about the term “Islamophobic”? I’ve seen it used to refer to anti-Muslim sentiment. Same goes for “Christophobic” used to refer to people who have something against Christians. I’ve seen people take issue with “homophobic” and then turn around and use “Christophobic” like it was nothing. If you’re okay with one, you really shouldn’t have a problem with the others. I personally don’t mind any of these words, though I can see the argument that they prevent any kind of debate or discussion: “Well, you’re just a Christophobe, so don’t even talk to me.”

hominid's avatar

@SecondHandStoke: “My point is that the quality of the word “homophobic” is inherently judgmental.”

Maybe we could approach this in a different way. As someone who likely feels that “homophobic” applies to you – and you resent this – maybe you could provide information that would help:

1. What is your position on homosexuals?
2. How does the term “homophobic” not apply?
3. What would be a better term to describe your position?

If you are just opposed to labels overall, then you likely are in the wrong thread. But if you have a specific concern with this term because you feel there is something better, then please provide it.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@hominid I’m not convinced that @SecondHandStoke is advocating against the term because he sees it being applied to himself. I think he just likes to get the libruls’ dander up.

hominid's avatar

^ Whatever the motivation, I’m not clear on his opposition to the term or what exactly his position is.

majorrich's avatar

Vaginaphilic
Breastophiliac
Cunningolingist
Penophile
Fellatist
Heterophiliac
Homophilliac
(Note the positive ness)
Homocentric
Heterocentric
I prefer to think I am personally hetero centric than homophobic because I have no fear of homosexuality, it’s just my gate doesn’t swing that way.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@majorrich I prefer fellatelist.

janbb's avatar

Doesn’t that mean a stamp collector?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@janbb I can’t slip anything past you!

janbb's avatar

Well, maybe a few things…

Darth_Algar's avatar

@majorrich “I prefer to think I am personally hetero centric than homophobic because I have no fear of homosexuality, it’s just my gate doesn’t swing that way.”

So you’re straight. That’s all you need to say really. Unless you take some issue with other people being homosexual.

janbb's avatar

@dappled_leaves It’s all in the glasses we wear, you know. But “I’m a private dick on a special case.” Brings us back to the first issue, doesn’t it?

dappled_leaves's avatar

You know me, @janbb. I hate to go off topic.

janbb's avatar

Librarians had Google glass before Google had invented it. It was called brains. But we digress….

dappled_leaves's avatar

@janbb Yes, now you’ll have me posting clips from Desk Set.

majorrich's avatar

They are each other’s definition in the dictionary of made-up words.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

How quick we all are to brand people. Everyone who isn’t perfectly liberal is either homophobic, racist, sexist, or some other awful word that helps us discriminate against discriminators. If you’re even slightly uncomfortable watching men kiss, well you’re obviously a homophobic bigot as bad as the Westboro lot. Right?

hominid's avatar

^ @FireMadeFlesh – I’m not sure that’s what anyone is proposing. I have heard it more in the context of those that appear to fear that allowing A (same-sex marriage or simply acceptance and equality for homosexuals) will lead to B (they’ll catch the gay, their marriage will fall apart, society will collapse, etc).

That’s why I specifically asked what @SecondHandStoke‘s position is. It’s quite possible that his objection to the term could be somewhat justified. We haven’t heard back. Do you think this is his position? It’s a matter of being “slightly uncomfortable watching men kiss”?

Even that brings up an interesting topic. There appears to be some research that connects our political leanings and our squeamish factor, and our fear levels. But this isn’t what we’re talking about here. And I certainly don’t see anyone remotely claiming what you are describing. Let’s try to keep things from spiraling into the burning of straw men.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@hominid Take a look at the top of the thread. The OP asked for words that would describe a mild form of what we know as homophobia. Yet the answers provided words of similar intensity, or arguments as to why homophobia (a decidedly negative term) accurately describes every degree of discomfort with homosexuality. It seems the OP’s attempt to find a word to describe people who are uncomfortable with homosexuality without pitching them as irrational lunatics was not appreciated. Hence my hyperbole above.

Note also the rather pointed attempt to paint anyone who disagrees with the overly broad use of the term as a homophobe themselves. That is Newspeak in action. The term homophobe is a classic example of linguistic engineering for political ends. I won’t presume to speak on behalf of @SecondHandStoke, but it is clear from the responses above that reservations regarding homosexuality are not met with the open mind that is supposed to typify the liberal mindset.

I respect the calm approach you have taken in trying to elucidate @SecondHandStoke‘s opinion. However my comment above was more directed at the false dichotomy set up, or more accurately perpetuated, by many of the other responses.

hominid's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh – Yes, I foolishly missed this from the question details:

@Aster: “What would be a good word with lasting possibilities for the many people who are uncomfortable around gay people, maybe embarrassed by them and , although not phobic, just wish to avoid socializing with them?”

I will admit that my understanding of “phobia” is that it is related to fear. But it seems that I could be wrong here. Merriam Webster defines extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something phobia as:

“an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something”

I don’t think it’s a stretch to apply this term in this context to someone is so uncomfortable around gay people that they avoid socializing with them. Part of a phobia is avoidance. As @livelaughlove21 correctly states, “It’s the accepted term for someone that dislikes gay people.”

But is it possible that this “discomfort” somehow does not translate into dislike of homosexuals? What about people who are uncomfortable with people with different skin color? We have terms to describe this phenomenon, right?

You mention that homophobia is a “decidedly negative term”. What term or terms would you feel would better represent the phenomena? If you feel that there is no need to find a term(s) to describe this at all, is this due to an aversion to language that attempts to describe social and psychological realities, or is your objection that this specific reality that homosexuals face inaccurate?

We all know that language is political. What language do you feel is appropriate in both cases ranging from discomfort with homosexuals (whatever this means) and Westboro Baptist? And is there any connection between similar things and race?

rojo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Wouldn’t being mildly homophobic be like being a little bit pregnant?

rojo's avatar

ps, @majorrich shouldn’t the term be “Peniphile”? And would that not imply that you can have “Peniphobes”?

ragingloli's avatar

phobia is used in chemistry as well, like hydrophobic or lipophobic. It does not mean that a substance is afraid of water or lipids

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@hominid Let’s first address the point about the precise meaning of the term phobia. I believe the most accurate synonym is “aversion”, not “fear”. So let’s stop talking about fear. But note the reference in the definition to the aversion being “extreme or irrational”. My angle on this question has never been that homosexuals are feared. I have argued rather that the term homophobia is an extreme term that simply does not describe a simple discomfort with homosexuality.

Homophobia is, as @livelaughlove21 pointed out, the accepted term for someone who dislikes homosexuals. This is entirely appropriate, but I never said anything about disliking homosexuals. The term I have been using is “discomfort”. Disliking the person is completely different to disliking exposure to their sexuality. One can acknowledge homosexuality as being morally acceptable, normal for some people, and as part of a successful loving relationship for those people, without being at ease in a homosexual environment.

As for your argument that another word must be proposed if what I describe is in fact a distinct attitude, I honestly don’t see the relevance. It is simply not necessary for every concept to be described by a single word.

@rojo I disagree. Being “mildly homophobic”, as you put it, would be more like being a little bit Catholic. There’s the non-Catholic, the baptised but essentially agnostic Catholic, and the pilgrimage to The Vatican Catholic. Similarly there’s the homophile, the uncomfortable but accepting person, and the homophobe.

rojo's avatar

Good point @FireMadeFlesh thanks.

hominid's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh: “As for your argument that another word must be proposed if what I describe is in fact a distinct attitude, I honestly don’t see the relevance. It is simply not necessary for every concept to be described by a single word.”

Is there an emphasis on “every” in the above sentence? Surely you can see the utility in having terms that address things, such as “racism”, right? And there is no way term “racism” comes anywhere near describing the full spectrum of attitudes/actions related to race. But one purpose for words is that they become shorthand, while not having to explain every exception and caveat. I am claustrophobic. Saying this gives you a general idea of my relationship to closed spaces. But you have little else to go on. It’s a descriptive term that works.

This is how language works. What is “happy”? We can use this label because we acknowledge that language is not a sharp knife. It’s a dull, blunt instrument that allows us to function as a society. But the important thing is that when we need to, we can go into detail and explain what we mean when we say “happy”.

@FireMadeFlesh: “One can acknowledge homosexuality as being morally acceptable, normal for some people, and as part of a successful loving relationship for those people, without being at ease in a homosexual environment.”

Fair enough. But I don’t think it ends here. Why was my grandfather uncomfortable with interracial couples and their public displays of affection (holding hands), while completely ok with holding my grandmother’s hand? He could express his lack of racism, and provide sufficient support for rights, etc. But when it came down to it, had he really investigated his own discomfort? What was fueling this discomfort? Was it pure novelty and nothing else? Possibly. Or was there something more?

DominicX's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I do think the term “mildly homophobic” applies here, but I have no doubt you would reject that. You do have a mild problem with homosexuality. It’s not a significant one, and it doesn’t mean you dislike them outright, but there is something that homosexuals do that bothers you, that if heterosexuals did it, it wouldn’t bother you. Now, there are many people who are uncomfortable with all kinds of public affection and don’t want to see anyone kiss and that’s fine. But the fact that you single out homosexuals means that there is a mild problem with homosexuals/homosexuality. If you see homosexuals kiss or be affectionate and it makes you want to turn away, isn’t that the very definition of an “aversion”? So why wouldn’t this be a mild aversion, i.e. a mild form of homophobia? Like I said earlier, if I said that I was uncomfortable around black people and didn’t want to see a black and white person kiss, what would you call that, if anything?

This is only of course if you want a specific term to describe it. There it is. For the sake of convenience, I don’t go around branding people like that “homophobic” because it takes away focus from “stronger” homophobes who think gays should undergo conversion therapy, etc.

@ragingloli see my response above

majorrich's avatar

@rojo I imagine for any phile there is a phobe.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@hominid Of course I see the need for words that address things. What we disagree on here is the need for terms to describe variations on a theme. While it may not seem like it throughout my posts on this thread, the concept of homosexuality has little bearing on my life. There is a requirement to have a myriad words to describe attitudes towards a major issue such as politics, but there are no words at all that I am aware of to describe whether or not someone likes bananas. Homosexuality lies somewhere between these extremes in terms of the impact differing attitudes have on society, so having to describe a position that doesn’t fall under one of two broad categories with more than one word is perfectly acceptable.

@DominicX You will note that I haven’t at any point in this thread expanded on my own attitude to homosexuality. My argument here has nothing to do with my attitude to homosexuality, and everything to do with my attitude to language. We could have exactly the same discussion regarding the word “racist”. I think it is overused, and thereby people who make innocuous comments in front of the professionally offended suffer a branding that can have serious consequences. Same goes for “sexist”, “socialist”, “terrorist”, and other words of the like. Using such terms makes a false dichotomy where one is at either one of two poles. It’d be perfectly fine if being a homophobe wasn’t associated with being an awful person, but since so many homophobes are awful people that isn’t likely. Using a word with extreme connotations to describe a potentially benign attitude that happens to fall on one side of a line is dangerous. So please don’t reflect the position I’ve described on to me.

That said, maybe mild homophobia is an appropriate term – as I have been saying, using a few more words can shed far more light on a perspective. Although it is unlikely for it to pass into common use, as illustrated by @rojo‘s “little bit pregnant” analogy. And let’s face it, people are lazy with language, and will quickly revert to “homophobe” without using a word to describe the degree of homophobia involved.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

@Darth_Algar:

You have said that I am not allowed to offer my take on this question. Your comment was upvoted twice, shame. Did you listen to yourself as you made that statement? You have proven one of my points. That Fluther isn’t necessarily a place for honest debate. What other speech or language out there would you just have categorically shut down?

Your comment was unhelpful to the point it should be modded. But don’t worry. I won’t be the butthurt Flutherite that flags it.

@hominid:

You asked what my position on homosexuality is. I was not quick to say because I believe my perspective should have to do with my convitcions, not my behavior.

But I have created a furor here because, like I also stated, I have not fallen lockstep into the mentality parade of nearly everyone else in this thread.

So… just what is my position on homosexuals? Well, sometimes on top of them, sometimes underneath or behind. My sexual orientation does not fall at one extreme of the Kinsey Scale or the other.

I’m going to characterize my feelings about the term “homophobic” one last time with this final comment. I’ll put it a different way:

Words such as “homophobic” are nothing but pure dogwhistle. There, said.

“But, but, that can’t be true!. Only the Right gets accused of using dogwhistle language!!

Perhaps it’s true that only non so called progressives (another such word) get called out for using words with hidden meanings. Perhaps that can now start to change.

@ragingloli:

The scientific meaning of the word “phobia” doesn’t apply here as science is pure, and does not judge.

hominid's avatar

@SecondHandStoke: “You asked what my position on homosexuality is. I was not quick to say because I believe my perspective should have to do with my convitcions, not my behavior.”

Not sure what you are saying here.

@SecondHandStoke: “But I have created a furor here because, like I also stated, I have not fallen lockstep into the mentality parade of nearly everyone else in this thread.”

It appears that you see yourself as some kind of rebel who is fighting the good fight against some kind of mindless mob here at fluther. I’m sorry you see it this way. Try sticking to the points of discussion and this feeling may go away.

@SecondHandStoke: “So… just what is my position on homosexuals? Well, sometimes on top of them, sometimes underneath or behind. My sexual orientation does not fall at one extreme of the Kinsey Scale or the other.”

Cute. But doesn’t answer the question in any way, right?

Darth_Algar's avatar

@SecondHandStoke *“You have said that I am not allowed to offer my take on this question. Your comment was upvoted twice, shame. Did you listen to yourself as you made that statement? You have proven one of my points. That Fluther isn’t necessarily a place for honest debate. What other speech or language out there would you just have categorically shut down?

Your comment was unhelpful to the point it should be modded. But don’t worry. I won’t be the butthurt Flutherite that flags it.”*

That’s good, because I’d really hate to think you missed the obvious sarcasm dripping off that comment.

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