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March 07, 2017

Online Dating

Homophobia inside and outside the online world

Homophobia is precisely a fear that homophobic people don’t like to play with. The behavior it engenders is a perceptive response to a diseased system, rather than a disease per se. That is why we should not be angry with these less enlightened people. In fact, they are more afraid of us than we are of them.
First I need to explain why I want to talk about this. Me and Camila started dating. Everything is still very confusing in my mind. I believe that only now I am realizing who I really am. I may not know much yet, but I know that I love her and want to be with her. And that's what matters most to me.
But walking the streets holding hands has drawn a lot of attention. Never in my life had I been subjected to a kind of prejudice as explicit as homophobia. I confess that I feel very exposed, as if I was walking naked on the street, because people turn their heads to watch us pass. It's extremely disconcerting. Especially with men, who look at us with a mixture of contempt and lust. I feel very uncomfortable.
So I decided to talk about homophobia. I know that I only started to suffer this kind of prejudice recently, but I would like to use the space of my blog to talk about it, to contribute in some way.

But, after all, what is homophobia?

I know it seems we know what it is, but only when we really feel it that we understand how much of it is harmful and terrible.
Homophobia characterizes widespread fear, repulsion, or hatred for homosexuals and manifests itself in innumerable and different ways. In its most serious form, it leads to verbal or physical violence. Homosexuality has gone through stages of naturalization as a sexual practice and can be considered a natural practice that also happens in other species of animals and in virtually all mammals, as proven in numerous studies.
The term "homophobia" is relatively recent and is related to prejudice, without any connection with the suffix "phobia" that refers to the pathological thing and is a practice of not accepting certain characteristics by the majority group. Therefore, homophobia should be seen as a social issue and not just as a psychological phenomenon. Of course, people assimilate beliefs and create ways of thinking and acting that have subjective and personal elements, but social interaction sets the tone of prejudice.
I believe homophobia is not a disease. Several studies show that there are elements that decrease homophobia, such as the closest contact with the minority group and the change of beliefs resulting from information. Speaking about it, clarifying, putting on the social agenda collaborates a lot to change this culture.

Barbarism and Prejudice

Society thus passed from the time when homosexual behavior was regarded as normal at a time when it was necessary to fight for basic human rights. Every day, it is more common to witness cases of physical or psychological violence against homosexuals in the media. But to what do we owe this? Such a form of prejudice is given the name of homophobia.
Homophobia is a form of inferiorization, a direct consequence of the hierarchy of sexualities, which gives heterosexuality a superior and natural status.
Homophobia is not limited to corporal violence practiced in someone who is considered homosexual, but also in psychological terror. It is an intolerant act that makes homosexuals, assumed or not, seen as despicable and disgusting people, simply because they don’t feel physical attraction to people of the opposite sex. It is a trivial way of saying that heterosexual people are superior to homosexuals, and that such truth is undeniable. These people think that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc., is worthy of punishment and/or social exclusion.
Homophobia causes the person to transform. Many victims have traumas that cause their behaviors to change, and then live in a constant panic of social retaliation.
Homosexuals who incorporate negative social critiques to themselves go through the same thing that happened to women before: for considering themselves inferior, they become passive in the face of aggression and assume that it is their fault, not the aggressor.
One of the main characteristics of what prejudice causes is the feeling of shame. This is one of the reasons why homosexuals have lived as heterosexuals or not assuming their sexual orientation to family and friends.

They create psychic defenses for this:

  • Denial: an unconscious process that causes the individual to "dribble" their sexuality; it is different from not assuming, because denying the individual doesn’t even assume for himself that he feels attraction for the same sex, because the simple idea of ​​this being true makes the individual feel repulsed;
  • Reactive formation: it has a behavior that is the opposite, in this category are the "latent homosexuals", who are those who don’t assume their orientation and become fervent critics to the behavior.
  • Rationalization: A certain attitude is distorted and explained by shifting the focus from homosexuality;
  • Anger and hostility: the person acts in a hostile and sarcastic way, even when he doesn’t suffer prejudice, only with the intention to provoke;
  • Cover up: For many it is an extremely necessary and healthy defense to deal with the situation, the cover-up is nothing more than not publicly revealing his behavior, making others see heterosexual behaviors in him;
  • Overcompensation: some authors believe that overcompensation (excessive pride and high pursuit of social, financial, and so on) is also a defense.
Studies have pointed out that although homosexuality is no longer considered a disease, gay and lesbian people are more prone to certain mental disorders, being related to prejudice and stigmatization, such as stress, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, eating disorder, etc.
The greater tendency to anxiety can be explained on the basis of the fact that homosexuals have to live more frequently with the psychic pressure suffered by prejudice. It is also due to a higher incidence of fear of rejection.
In assumed homosexual adolescents, rates of physical and verbal violence suffered are greater, as are the number of suicides when compared to suicides of those who remain without disclosing their sexual orientation. Depression, like all other disorders that affect it, is directly related to internalized prejudice, the greater the social rejection, the greater will be the feeling of loneliness and the consequent exclusion.

The internet is a free place. Do people suffer prejudice on the internet?

Becoming a mockery among colleagues, suffering from manifestations of bullying, racism or homophobia on the internet happens much more often than you can imagine.
If the sites announce cases of intolerance in the internet, in social networks the repercussion is even greater. In relationship channels, people end up expressing their thoughts and opinions, often going beyond the boundaries determined by society, committing acts of bullying, racism and other intolerances.
But why do so many feel protected with anonymity on the internet? Does being behind the computer screen cause the internal beasts to break loose?
Yes, the dark or repressed side of people is liberated because of this feeling and is not such a conscious thing. The condition of surfing the internet generates an altered state of consciousness, causing the notion of time and space to be lost. It's like a daydream, allowing fantasy to surface. This is why it is not uncommon to see people with pathological difficulties emerge and give vent to less noble and creative aspects.
Aggressions can range from people of any gender, age, social background or even culture. Whoever commits cyberbullying often has no clear notion of the size of the repercussion of their act and also suffers from it. I once saw the case of a boy who made a bad joke with a classmate and needed psychological help because he lost control of the joking he did. And there is no turning back. Once done, there is no way to turn back the time.
The best way to avoid biased Internet manifestations, such as racism and homophobia, is to educate users. Investing in clarifying the reactions to all involved and in legal punishments is the first step to considerably reduce cases. The internet is a relatively new "toy". There is a long way to learn.

Not so anonymous

But it is wrong the person who thinks that he can commit any offense in the Internet without being punished. There are no great difficulties in finding the guilty ones. Several countries already have specialized police stations for these types of crimes.
The investigation begins with the communication of police occurrence or the request to the responsible authority, through the recognition of the IP of the machine in which the pages or offensive messages were created. From there, a series of procedures are adopted until reaching the criminal. The most important thing, really, is to gather evidence and evidence of the authorship and materiality of the crime that is intended to punish.
Some security measures can help Internet users to protect themselves against cyberbullying and even prosecute perpetrators of cyberbullying.

The culture of homophobia is very dangerous

Like the culture of rape, chauvinism and racism, the culture of homophobia is another serious problem of the society, but still little debated and opposed. It is present in our daily life and has been so "naturalized" that it is often expressed even unconsciously, reproducing an awkward way of prejudice. A classic example of how this behavior manifests occurs during soccer and football games, when stadiums see the opportunity to express the most diverse types of hate.
When one player of the opposing team touches the ball, the chorus to begin: "Fag!". When a crowd wants to attack the other, there is a lot of terms linked to the LGBT world. It is the aversion to everything that represents the homosexual question used as a weapon to try to depreciate someone.
In a relationship between friends, it is also easy to see how the forms of treatment find inspiration in the homoaffective concept. If one of them does something that bothers, someone easily says “quit being a fag" or or something like that. It is on the same level as the whistle for the girl passing by the sidewalk. Everything understood within the context of the "joke", but also does not fail to reproduce a negative look at everything that is not identified with the heterosexual living standard. As if all that had to do with the gay way of being was inferior, dirty, immoral.
That is why homophobia needs to be understood in its various nuances. It manifests itself in both murders and jokes. It is the field of the symbolic also working to build this form of culture.
Now imagine a child that grows wrapped up in all this. If she has an homosexual tendency, she will grow up trying to deny herself. Otherwise, you have a good chance of becoming an homophobic individual. Therefore, the need for this topic to be also addressed in schools. It shows from early on the existence of differences.
It is not "indoctrination”, as many dishonest people want to convey. In fact, many Churches and people misrepresent passages of the Bible, helping to create this world of so much intolerance and disrespect.

If I suffer prejudice, can I report it? How do I protect myself from bullying, racism, homophobia and other crimes on the internet?

  • First, only accept having contact with people you trust and know their integrity and reputation;
  • Never respond to offenses with aggressive messages. Report to the authorities;
  • If your account in any social network undergoes any change, don’t delete it. Seek advice from professionals such as experts, lawyers, notaries, and civil or federal law enforcement officers who can carry out the evidence and have the perpetrator punished;
  • Don’t delete comments or offensive emails. They are the proof of the crime;
  • Have the children talk to their parents or an adult when they think a friend is offending or picking up a joke;
  • Always report and save comments or offensive messages you receive. Make a screen print of the screen, if possible with date, time and names of the abuser user to be used as proof. If possible, file the complaint with the police;
  • Report cyberbullying practices on the websites. Facebook and Youtube already have denunciation pages available to their users;
  • Avoid exposing your intimacy on the internet with photos (travel, underwear or beach), music, religion, sexual orientation, age, dreams and goals you want to accomplish;
  • Messages sent by mobile phone or email can be blocked. If you get something offensive, make an incident report at a specialized police station. If your city doesn’t have one, look for a normal one, register the occurrence and report it through the police website.