Combating Homophobia & Heterosexism
Assess your situation carefully. Don't ever place yourself or anyone else in physical danger. Consider the positive as well as the negative financial, emotional, legal and social implications before taking action.
Things Everyone Can Do
- Educate yourself about homosexuality and homophobia, you'll be better able to educate others.
- Don't tolerate homophobic jokes or comments. Counter offensive remarks with factual information.
- Join organizations fighting for the equal rights of gays and lesbians. If there are none in your area, consider starting one.
- Support gay and lesbian friendly businesses and organizations.
- Challenge corporate homophobia and urge businesses to include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies. Encourage businesses to offer equal benefits for the partners of gay and lesbian employees.
- Call, write or visit elected officials about legislation that affects the gay and lesbian community. Speak at legislative hearings.
- Respond to homophobia, misinformation and censorship of the gay and lesbian experience by the media. Write letters to the editor of newspapers or magazines in response to homophobic or misleading articles. Contact television stations and networks that run homophobic programming. Contact advertisers and let them know that homophobic programming is offensive and ask them to withdrawl their sponsorship of such programming. Be sure to show your appreciation to newspapers, magazines, television stations and networks when they show programming or print articles that accurately portray the lives of gays and lesbians, or promote diversity and tolerance. Do the same for their advertisers.
- Respond to the inaccurate representations or the exploitation of gays and lesbians by talk show hosts, politicians and televangalists.
- Register to vote, and then be sure to vote. Encourage family and friends to do the same.
- Use inclusive language such as significant other or partner instead of husband or wife when appropriate. Don't assume everyone is heterosexual.
- Encourage your school and public libraries to shelve gay and lesbian books.
- Support gay and lesbian cultural events.
- Discuss homophobia and sexual orientation with family members, friends and co-workers when appropriate.
- Keep abreast of the latest tactics employed by anti-gay organizations. Formulate plans to counteract their negative impact in your community.
- Educate yourself about gay and lesbian history. Learn about the gay men and lesbian women who have made valuable contributions to society.
- Display symbols of pride and diversity.
Specifically For Gays and Lesbians
Along with the suggestions above, gays and lesbians can do even more to lessen the impact of homophobia and heterosexism in their lives.
- When you're ready, come out to parents, other family members, friends and co-workers. Besides being a very validating and powerful experience, coming out lessens the impact of anti-gay rhetoric. Gay and lesbian silence and invisibility enables homophobic organizations to continue to misrepresent the gay and lesbian community.
- Encourage parents, family members and friends to become involved with organizations such as PFLAG.
- Understand laws in your community and policies at your place of employment that affect you as a gay person.
- Report gay bashing or harassment to the proper authorities. Encourage the utilization of existing anti-discrimination laws and policies. If none exist in your area, inform law makers of the need for such legislation and encourage your place of employment to adopt anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation.
- Don't allow yourself to be categorized by gay and lesbian stereotypes. Be yourself.
If you are looking for that special someone, visit: