March 23, 2017

"I coined the word homophobia to mean it was a phobia about homosexuals.... It was a fear of homosexuals..."

"... which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for — home and family. It was a religious fear, and it had led to great brutality, as fear always does."

Said the psychotherapist George Weinberg, the man who coined the term "homophobia" (in the 1960s). He has died at the age of 87.
Over time, “homophobia” evolved from a rallying cry to a contested term. Critics, both gay and heterosexual, argued that however useful the word might be as a political tool, or as a consciousness raiser, it did not withstand scrutiny. Homophobia, they pointed out, was not precisely equivalent to an irrational fear of snakes or heights, and the emotions associated with it were more likely to be anger or disgust than fear. Its meaning had become too diffuse, they argued, covering everything from physical assault to private thoughts to government policies.

51 comments:

Bob Loblaw said...

And forever created the association of the suffix "phobia" with things that have nothing whatsoever to do with fear. It's almost meaningless at this point.

Michael K said...

Agree with Bob Loblaw above. It is all about politics.

madAsHell said...

Next up, the difference between climate, and weather!!

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Homophobia, they pointed out, was not precisely equivalent to an irrational fear of snakes or heights, and the emotions associated with it were more likely to be anger or disgust than fear. Its meaning had become too diffuse, they argued, covering everything from physical assault to private thoughts to government policies."

This is correct. I have known people who dislike or disapprove of homosexuals. I have never met anybody who was afraid of them.

And, like "racism," the word "homophobia," has been flung around so much it has lost all meaning.

Angel-Dyne said...

"... which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for — home and family. It was a religious fear, and it had led to great brutality, as fear always does."

The nice thing about a career in something like psychotherapy, is that you can play with words and concepts that are emotionally compelling to you and certain other people, sometimes quite remuneratively, without ever having to prove that your ideas and concepts are in any way valid vis à vis reality.

(Minus the remunerativeness, we all do this to some degree as we go about our lives, but usually with much more humility and self-critical distance.)

Quaestor said...

From a philological standpoint the term is laughable: ὁμός + φόβος = same fear, or fear of sameness, implying the exact opposite Weinberg intended. It was always nothing but propaganda.

From now on we should purge gay from our conversations or writings unless we mean lightheartedly happy or carefree. If homosexually is just another form of normality, which is what the "best and brightest" insistently claim, then the stupid euphemism (gay started as a codeword among homosexuals, no?) is outdated. If you mean homosexual, say it.

Roy Jacobsen said...

It was a bullshit term from the get-go crafted as a club to silence dissent.

sunsong said...

RIP George. Great word!

Static Ping said...

Given how homosexuals have acted since they have gotten power, fear of them appears to have been well placed.

But, yes, the term made no sense when it was coined.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I can't be the only one to find it odd that "Islamophobia" was coined recently in parallel with "homophobia" with the intent of using the word as a political cudgel, given that the more fundamentalist strains of Islam are somewhat unfriendly to homosexuals.

Quaestor said...

sunsong wrote: Great word!

Typical.

Chuck said...

The Associated Press Style Manual advised against broad use of "homophobia" in 2012. I think they were right-- even the "National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association" thought that there may be some merit to the AP position:

https://www.poynter.org/2012/nlgja-president-the-ap-is-probably-correct-to-discourage-use-of-homophobia/196490/

It was a bad word, in the sense that it was a misleading, badly-freighted word.

Quaestor said...

I just coined a new word, sunsongness. What do you think of my neologism? It means predictable stupidity.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Quaestor said...
I just coined a new word, sunsongness. What do you think of my neologism? It means predictable stupidity."

I like it. I'll be using it myself, if you don't mind.

buwaya said...

Part of the cultural-marxist propaganda campaign.

Whatever was human normality, and contributed to national power, like maintaining a population or healthy society, was a target for propaganda meant to diminish national power. This is not in dispute, much of this is documented as a set of objectives by various sources within or connected to the Soviet propaganda system.

It was a far-reaching instrument of warfare, working on all levels.

It is now a leftover weapon of war cut off from its creators. But still destructive, and now out of control.

David said...

If you oppose any aspect of the LGBTXYZKLMONP agenda you are homophobic or somethingelsephobic. So there.

BN said...

NEVER use "homophobia" when "houseophobia" is at all possible.

Robert Cook said...

"This is correct. I have known people who dislike or disapprove of homosexuals. I have never met anybody who was afraid of them."

How do you know their dislike or disapproval was not, at least in some cases, motivated by fear?

tim in vermont said...

All of those criticisms are features, not bugs. Words like that are for use as weapons, not to advance understanding. His legacy is polarization.

n.n said...

It should be transphobic. Homosexuality is a behavioral orientation of the transgender spectrum disorder.

Fernandinande said...

Google ngram shows the word homophobia used in 1918, 1934, 1939.

Robert Cook said...

"Whatever was human normality, and contributed to national power, like maintaining a population or healthy society...."

Homosexuality is entirely "normal," in that it appears in all human societies in all eras. It also appears in the animal kingdom. It may be, statistically, a minority behavior, but there are many normal behavioral or physical traits of humanity that are in the minority.

(And, why is "normal" a quality to be praised, encouraged, revered? What is intrinsically preferable about "normal?")

Given the fecundity of humankind, there is no reason homosexual behavior in a society will undermine the "maintenance of population," or will undermine a "healthy society," (whatever that means).

tim in vermont said...

Of course, Robert, dissent against the left can always be traced to psychological infirmities.

Robert Cook said...

"I just coined a new word, sunsongness. What do you think of my neologism? It means predictable stupidity."

Another good word for that is "normal."

Robert Cook said...

"Given how homosexuals have acted since they have gotten power...."

Ha ha!

You really need to get out more.

Fernandinande said...

Google ngram shows the word homophobia used in 1918, 1934, 1939.

And "homophobic" back to 1887.

Angel-Dyne said...

Robert Cook: How do you know their dislike or disapproval was not, at least in some cases, motivated by fear?

How do you know it was?

How do you know that the people who push the "-phobia" line aren't motivated by the ego-salving impulse to believe that people who claim to be feel disgust and contempt for them are really motivated by irrational "fear"?

Makes at least as much sense, since most people can live a lot more easily with the idea of being feared than they can with the knowledge that they are considered disgusting and contemptible.

We can play this game all day long.

Angel-Dyne said...

Fernandinande: And "homophobic" back to 1887.

Did it mean the same thing?

Jim at said...

"Ha ha!

You really need to get out more."

Apparently, you've not heard of any bakeries, flower shops or pizzerias being sued out of existence recently.

Maybe it's you who needs to get out more.

Static Ping said...

Robert Cook said... "Given how homosexuals have acted since they have gotten power...."

Ha ha!

You really need to get out more.


When the First Amendment is in peril, there is very good reason to fear. If that goes there are two options: tyranny or civil war. I understand both are unpleasant.

Angel-Dyne said...

Robert Cook: Homosexuality is entirely "normal," in that it appears in all human societies in all eras. It also appears in the animal kingdom. It may be, statistically, a minority behavior, but there are many normal behavioral or physical traits of humanity that are in the minority.

If it's a minority behavior, it's not, by definition, normal. Excellence is not normal, and neither is depravity. Mediocrity is normal.

Whatever the moral status of homosexuality in an individual, a society that "normalizes" (or rather, tries to normalize) homosexuality, pushing nonsense like "gay marriage", has probably reached its silly stage, with significant social disruption coming just around the corner. Note that achieving "gay marriage" did not have the promised "civil rights" effect of just making gay relationships respectable and "normal" like straight relationships. Rather the whole "rights" aspect immediately segued into tranny-palooza, "cis privilege", demands to recognize 4,726 "genders", and oh yes, witch-hunting people who weren't falling in line with the nonsense out of jobs, businesses, and assets.

Wonder what's coming next.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert Cook: 'How do you know their dislike or disapproval was not, at least in some cases, motivated by fear?'

"How do you know it was?"


I don't know that it was,(though I think it's a reasonable guess). But how does the other commenter know it wasn't?

Robert Cook said...
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Robert Cook said...
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Angel-Dyne said...

Robert Cook: I don't know that it was,(though I think it's a reasonable guess). But how does the other commenter know it wasn't?

I don't know if my theory of ego-salving projection is true, though I think it is more true to human nature, and thus more reasonable, than your equally un-evidenced theory of fear-expressed-as-disgust. How do you know it isn't?

Do either of the above two statements rise above stoned-in-your-dorm-room profundities about "who's to say what's really normal, maaaaan?" No.

Robert Cook said...

"If it's a minority behavior, it's not, by definition, normal. Excellence is not normal, and neither is depravity. Mediocrity is normal."

It depends how you define "normal." (See my posts where I agree with you that "normal" means "mediocre.")

However, "normal" can also be considered simply as any behavior or trait that is among the many that appear frequently in nature, among which are to-be-expected differences in statistical frequency, while "abnormal" a trait or behavior that is a "freak" or "sport" of nature, (cyclops babies, two-headed animals, etc.). That certain traits and behaviors may be more common does not mean the less common but still frequently occurring behavior or trait is "not normal." It just means that it is a normal minority trait or behavior.

Another response to that is to point out that obvious: "abnormal," then, cannot be correctly used as a pejorative, but just as an objective statement of lesser statistical frequency.

Robert Cook said...

"Note that achieving 'gay marriage' did not have the promised 'civil rights' effect of just making gay relationships respectable and 'normal' like straight relationships."

How can you know that? It's only just been legalized. I'd say that it looks like it is having that effect. However, as we see with the persistence of racism decades after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, more than a century after the abolition of slavery, long-held beliefs and biases die long and hard. (Science hasn't killed human superstition and religious impulses.)

(Deleted and reposted with the replacement of a key word, {"slavery" for "racism"}).

dbp said...

I second what Roy Jacobsen said.

It is a word used to "other" anyone who disagrees with the current fashion. I instantly lose respect for anyone who uses it unless they're being intentionally ironic.

Angel-Dyne said...

Robert Cook: How can you know that? It's only just been legalized. I'd say that it looks like it is having that effect.

No, it doesn't. Even before the SC ruling on "gay marriage", the cacophony of crazy and chronic dissatisfaction moved on to bold new frontiers in "civil rights". As it must, as long as the belief persists that the non-normal (in the statistical sense) can be made "normal" by legal fiat. (Speaking of superstition and religious impulses...)

However, as we see with the persistence of racism decades after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, more than a century after the abolition of slavery, long-held beliefs and biases die long and hard. (Science hasn't killed human superstition and religious impulses.)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the fundamental progressive dogma: everything (cause) is exactly the same as everything else. (Except if the individual/group on the left side of the who/whom equation happens to be an Enemy of the People.)

And I hate to break this to you, Cookie, but science is not only not on the side of every progressive belief, it's not even relevant to each and every progressive issue.

buwaya said...

"What is intrinsically preferable about "normal?"

Its the human spec. The checklist.
All systems are go, the engine is ticking over, brakes are good, tank is full, checked the dipstick.
Ready to ride.
Homosexuals have one quite important system busted. The most important system.
We are, like all other animals, designed to reproduce. We are reproducing machines, everything else is auxiliary systems.

Why are we full of empathy for people born deaf, blind, missing limbs, and why are there institutions and technology applied to fixing or palliating these other problems - which also are "normal" conditions - but there is intense reluctance to even consider repair of others?

buwaya said...

The other problem here is the delusion of individualism, not merely in the here and now but in the timestream.
What is the point of living? To exist, for the sake of existing?
Is that what countless generations of ancestors struggled, stove off despair, and fought through pain for?
Are we somehow the fulfillment and justification of all that trouble, in merely existing, and enjoying whatever it is we enjoy, and ending that line for which so many have gone to all that trouble?
Or have we simply been passed the ball in this game, to play it and pass it on?
Its clear that the first is wrong, because if that were the categorical imperative then there is no possibility of existence. So it must be the other.

Angel-Dyne said...

Robert Cook: However, "normal" can also be considered simply as any behavior or trait that is among the many that appear frequently in nature, among which are to-be-expected differences in statistical frequency, while "abnormal" a trait or behavior that is a "freak" or "sport" of nature, (cyclops babies, two-headed animals, etc.). That certain traits and behaviors may be more common does not mean the less common but still frequently occurring behavior or trait is "not normal." It just means that it is a normal minority trait or behavior.

I think you're implicitly referencing concepts of "morally good" vs. "morally bad or suspect" behavior here, which in this context I don't care about and which is irrelevant to my own view. If it's a "minority behavior" then it is a behavior different from, wait for it, the norm. You're going round in circles here, because you're under the misapprehension that being able to label the behavior under discussion here as "normal" settles any question about how it should be treated socially and institutionally. But the label tells you nothing about this.

We don't have a difference of opinion about sexual morality here, we have a difference of opinion about the purpose and function of a fundamental social institution.

Jack Wayne said...

Just one of many.


Michael K said...

Given how homosexuals have acted since they have gotten power, fear of them appears to have been well placed.

Good point. They certainly have wreaked havoc on Christians.

Not so much on Muslims. What with throat cutting and all.

Roughcoat said...

From now on we should purge gay from our conversations or writings unless we mean lightheartedly happy or carefree.

Let's replace "gay" with "flamboyant." As in, "the flamboyant Liberace," or "Martina Navratilova's flamboyant entourage."

"Fabulous" would also work.

readering said...

People may not have been afraid of homosexuals but many were terrified that their children, especially sons, might be "converted" by homosexuals.

Matthew Blaine said...

" It also appears in the animal kingdom."

Yes, it does, but as a dominance behavior, not as a productive behavior lending itself to pair-bonding or the rearing of off-spring.

Homophobia is a term used to control expression. The natural aversion to areas of the body that lead to disease, primarily.

Big Mike said...

He coined the term in the 1960s? Then he lived at least fifty years too long.

Roy Jacobsen said...

However, "normal" can also be considered simply as any behavior or trait that is among the many that appear frequently in nature, among which are to-be-expected differences in statistical frequency, while "abnormal" a trait or behavior that is a "freak" or "sport" of nature, (cyclops babies, two-headed animals, etc.). That certain traits and behaviors may be more common does not mean the less common but still frequently occurring behavior or trait is "not normal." It just means that it is a normal minority trait or behavior.

Guess what? Murder, robbery, rape, assault, all of those are "normal" behavior.

What point, exactly, are you trying to make again?

Roy Jacobsen said...

Also "normal:" obesity, cardiovascular disease, alcoholism, adultery, child abuse, addiction, crushing credit card debt, diabetes.

Gluttony, pride, lust, envy, sloth, wrath, greed.

EDH said...

I always assumed the term came from the fear that one's own child would be homosexual.