Homophobia is an intense, irrational fear of same-sex relationships. Below are four levels of homophobic attitudes, conceived by Dr. Dorothy Riddle, a psychologist from Tucson, Arizona:


In this most extreme expression of homophobia, homosexuality is seen as a crime against nature. Gays are seen as sick, crazy, immoral, sinful, wicked, etc. Anything is justified in order to change them, including prison, hospitalization, negative behavior therapy, including electric shock.


Pity is better than revulsion, but is heterosexual chauvinism. In this type of homophobia, the assumption is that heterosexuality is more mature and certainly to be preferred. Any possibility of becoming straight should be reinforced, and those who seem to have been born "that way" should be pitied, the poor things.


In this view, homosexuality is just a phase of adolescent development that many people go through and most people grow out of. Thus gays are less mature than straights and should be treated with the protectiveness and indulgence one uses with a child. Gays and lesbians, in this view, should not be given positions of authority because they are still working through adolescent behaviors.


Acceptance, while the most positive form of homophobia, still implies that there is something to accept, characterized by such statements as, "You're not gay to me, you're a person." "What you do in bed is your own business." "That's fine as long as you don't flaunt it."

This level denies social and legal realities. Acceptance ignores the pain of invisibility and the stress of closet behavior. "Flaunt" usually means saying or doing anything that makes people aware of your homosexuality.

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