It’s a sad fact of gay life that we probably all have to deal with homophobic people at some point in our lives, whether it’s work, socially, or even family. And that homophobia can come in many forms – not just outright insults, but also comments that come from misunderstanding or not wanting to understand gay people – or maybe just never having met many gay people before. So here are some tips on how to handle homophobic people and homophobic comments.
1 Keep your cool
This can be hard to do, especially when it feels like such a core part of your identity is being attacked. But remember that homophobia comes from a place of ignorance, and responding to ignorance with anger never works; in fact it usually makes things worse. In fact, in the case of hurtful comments shouted by strangers, it is ALWAYS best to be the better person and walk away; this isn’t worth getting hurt over.
2 Use humour
Some homophobic comments aren’t meant viciously – they just come from misunderstanding. Comments like ‘you just haven’t met the right girl / boy yet’, or ‘it’s just a phase’ – while these can be upsetting because they seem to be attacking us, it’s doubtful the person means that. Turning the comments around – maybe THEY just haven’t found the right person to make them gay? or maybe their straightness is just a phase? – can make people think twice
3 Try not to take it personally
Again, this is a hard one. But try to remember that often, homophobic people aren’t trying to hurt us. They’ve probably grown up in a family or place where beliefs like theirs are common and are probably simply thoughtlessly repeating lessons they’ve learned. Which brings us on to the next point
4 Try to engage
Some people simply ‘know’ that being gay is wrong, and that’s that; but others might be more willing to engage in a discussion. Before you go down this route it’s important you feel comfortable in yourself and will remember point 3 – don’t take their comments personally. It’s highly likely that the person you’re discussing this with will make hurtful comments – remember, they don’t mean it
5 Be a good person
This might sound wishy washy, but it’s one of the most important tools you can use. As I’ve said above, a lot of homophobic people simply haven’t met many gay people, and so have a lot of wrong ideas about us from their upbringing or culture. The best way to dispel those beliefs isn’t with discussion or angry arguments, but by simply living as best we can and showing them how wrong they are
6 Be good to yourself
Lastly, and most importantly – be good and kind to yourself. Sadly, the world can be harsh – sometimes very harsh – for gay people. So don’t make it harsher by being hard on yourself; there are enough people doing that for you. Instead, look after yourself; take comfort and nourishment from your friends, be happy with who you are. No matter what homophobic people say, or even do, you will always know that you are being true to yourself