Homophobia is a strange phenomenon. On the one hand, phobia means fear. On the other hand, no one has ever run away in panic after being confronted by a male with a high-pitch affected voice and effeminate manners.
“To show everybody that I’m a real man I will make them faggots suffer, I’m gonna show them how aggressive I can be or I’ll tell antigay jokes at least.”
Saying that representatives of sex minorities are continuously harassed by aggressive homophobes would be untrue. But homophobia is subject to periodic aggravations as any chronic disease is from time to time. Sometimes there is a plausible excuse splashed in the air e.g. the gay pride parade in Moscow banned by the city hall.
For starters, homophobia is not something that has been around from time immemorial.
There was no such thing as homophobia in the ancient Greece. Sexual relations between a teenager and a grown-up man were considered quite legal. But a man preferring boys to women all the time would be normally frowned upon. People would call such a man an “infantile” and a “dummy.”
Christianity taught people to regard homosexuality as something immoral, a crime. Homosexual relations were viewed not only as a sin similar to that of sodomy but also as a deviation from the traditional roles played by a man and a woman in society. Since female sexuality was simply ignored during early Christianity and the Middle Ages, homophobes mostly persecuted gay men in those times.
Homosexuality came to be considered as a mental disease as psychiatry was making initial progress along the long road to wisdom. Incidentally, even these days you can easily spot ads in certain newspapers and magazines, those ads are paid by medical charlatans who promise to provide “treatment of a shameful medical condition”, no patient’s consent required, therapy en absentia is okay… A mental disease per se can cause horror and disgust. Besides, a stereotype about the need to lock up the mentally ill and the possibility of using forced treatment of the above mentioned somehow clicks to life in one’s subconscious. As a result, homosexuals not only have to oppose homophobic attitudes, they have to permanently prove their right to belong to sound people.
In Russia, homophobia became part of the state system not so long ago, to some extent.
Peter I signed off the first “antigay” bill into law in 1706. However, back in times of Ivan the Terrible, respectable noblemen would stay away from the czar’s cronies who displayed “queer” inclinations.
The more totalitarian a government turns, the more profit it gains by exploiting human fears, homophobia in particular.
Admitting homosexual orientation in public can not but do damage to a public person in Russia. That is the reason why in Russia only some homegrown showbiz figures spread the news about their homosexuality to gain more publicity, no matter how scandalous it may get in the process. No respectable Russian public person will ever publicly admit that his sex life is “slightly different” from a media cliché. At the same time, in the West some film actors, pop singers and politicians are well-known for their flagrant display of homosexuality.
Translated by Guerman Grachev
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