Calling Anti-Gay Stuff “Homophobic” Is Disrespectful To People With Phobias

It happens often enough that it’s an issue even among my friends. We’ll be discussing the latest episode of Girls, or our ironic interest in Taylor Swift, and inevitably one of my friends – usually a very liberal, progressive, educated individual – will blurt it out.

“That’s so homophobic!”

And they’ll all laugh and sneer at the object of their criticism in solidarity with each other. They’re fighting the good fight here, meanwhile I’m recoiling into my skin and pretending like I’m somewhere else. Why? Because I’m phobic, and my friends just not only equated my entire identity with bigotry, they potentially sent me into a panic about spiders.

When I was four, I came out to my parents as an arachnophobe and it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. I thought facing oppression from other people – and not just spiders – would end there. Obviously, I was wrong. I’m constantly confronting brave culture. It’s in the media, it’s in our entertainment, it’s in our language, and it’s in every single one of my social circles.

I’m a grown woman, I should be able to live in fear without being ashamed of it. I’ve surrounded myself with people that like to label themselves as progressive, but I almost feel like it’s made it worse. I’m constantly having to hear about how brave they are. Great, you’re brave. That’s fine, but don’t mute my agency with your language-expression just because you think it’s expresso-typical to say things like ‘homophobic.’

“Oh, sorry Sara,” they’ll offer. “We forgot. We didn’t mean it.” I know you didn’t mean it. But, you said it, and your words have an impact on not only me, but every member of the phobic community.

And the worst part? I know that when I’m not around, they’re calling heterocentrism ‘homophobia’ left and right, and I have to be the phobic friend that makes it okay in their minds. I am now their black friend that makes saying the n-word okay.

“Oh, I have a phobic friend – I can say that. My friend Sara, she’s phobic.”

Whoa. Check your privilege. Just because I have brunch with you doesn’t mean you have ANY idea what I’ve been through, or what my experiences are. You just don’t get it what its like to be a giant pussy. Don’t think your ability to empathize with me as a friend gives you a right to trivialize or exploit who I am. You hear someone say, “fag,” you then toss out ‘homophobic’ thinking it’s just some innocuous criticism, but all I hear is “hey Sara, you’re inherently a bad person because of you think bugs are scary.”

Seriously. Homophobia is such a misnomer. From a denotative standpoint, heterocentricity couldn’t be further from a phobia. The only reason to use that word is to perpetuate brave culture and express hatred towards phobics. You don’t see me going around calling white supremacists “racefags” do you?

“Oh hey, look at those neo-Nazis. They’re so gay about being white.” I would never say that. Calling something that is discriminatory ‘phobic’ is gross and disgusting. Seriously. That’s like bringing Hitler back to life so he can beat a special needs kid to death with a burning Koran while wearing a Steubenville Big Red jersey. It’s just like that.

About a year ago I went out to a comedy show with two friends of mine. Bethica and Jance. I have known these girls for years, and we’ve gone through a lot of shit together. Bethica is a diap-lez and Jance is a phobic like myself. We’re tight as fuck, seriously. We might still be a livejournal webring. That’s how far back we go.

So, the comedian was terrible obviously. Who likes stand up comedy anyways? It’s like a podcast you can’t talk over. No thanks. Anyway, the comedian was on some tedious tangent about abstraction in language when the unthinkable happened.

Trigger Warning…

He told a rape joke.

Bethica leaned forward, cupped her hands to her face, and yelled, “Boooooo!”

I couldn’t believe it. Bethica knows god damn well that Jance is afraid of ghosts.

As a phasmophobe, it’s hard enough for Jance to even leave the house at night, but to Bethica, I guess that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because its not a gender issue. It’s a phobic issue, which doesn’t factor into the mindset of most progressives – and that really sucks.

As a progressive, I’ve been strong enough to fight as hard for gender issues as I have for phobic issues. I’ve had to fight extremely hard to get Halloween banned from local schools. Granted, it might have been easier if I were a parent, but really, there’s a lot of scared kids that don’t know that its OK to be afraid of skeletons and candy corn. They just have to put on a mask like everyone else. But for them, the mask isn’t just a costume, its a rejection of their identity as a phobic – and that shit can really fuck someone up, trust me.

I’m tired of wearing a mask. I’m tired of pretending like I’m not afraid. I’m tired of brave culture.

There’s nothing gay about having irrational fears, and there’s nothing phobic about heterocentric behavior. The language needs to change, and that change needs to start with our friends. If you’re still using the h-word, seriously, just stop, and – if you honestly think there’s something phobic about heterocentrism? Well, I’m not even going to try to appeal to ethos: you’re just a c-word r-word penis-being-used-in-the-act-of-rape head a-word b-word n-word f-word a-word s-word t-worder baby fucker. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Shutterstock

Just a fun mom and a teacher at a retarded school. I like recipes and my kids.

Keep up with Nicole on Twitter

More From Thought Catalog