Issue Of The Week XXVI: Perspectives On Homophobia And Heterosexism Across Race And Ethnicity

March 26, 2012
Written by Abby L. Ferber Ph.D. Professor of Sociology in
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Associate Professor at Iowa State University, Warren Blumenfeld. Photo Credit: Iowa State University

Each week, the White Privilege Conference and the Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion, housed at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS), hosts a half hour radio show called Intersections Radio that features an interview with a different author, scholar, and/or speaker.

In this segment, Warren Blumenfeld, Associate Professor of Multicultural and International Curriculum in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Iowa State University discusses how his publications are Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States, and readings for Diversity and Social Justice, Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price, and Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life.

Intersections Radio is hosted by Dr. Eddie Moore Jr., founder of the White Privilege Conference (WPC), which is held annually in cities across the United States; and Daryl Miller, who works with the WPC and other programs of the Matrix Center. The WPC is an award-winning national diversity conference that serves as a yearly opportunity to examine and explore difficult issues related to white privilege, white supremacy, and oppression, and works to dismantle systems of power, prejudice, and inequality. College students from around the country participate in the conference for academic credit.

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I think that is is important

Submitted by SBU-4S2012 on

I think that is is important for people to be informed of white heterosexual supremacy and its effect. People may not think that they are supreme or have privilege but because of them others like homosexuals are oppressed. Just because people don't feel privilege doesn't mean they aren't and it definitely doesn't stop the negative effects on other groups of people.


Submitted by SBU-11S2012 on

I believe issues such as these regarding sexual prejudices, or racial issues can only be solved with exposure. Once the issues are talked about and awareness is raised, those in the privileged group will be more conscious of the racist issues and hopefully work for change rather than do nothing because they are simply unaware. Many times, those part of the privileged group are unaware they are privileged and therefore causing oppression for other groups.

Bridging the gap

Submitted by SBU-16S2012 on

I think you make a good point here when you say that the exposure surrounding racial and sexual prejudices can aide people in becoming more "conscious" of the issues. I think that many people are not blatantly racist or sexist, but benefit from white male privilege, and are unaccustomed to recognizing the disadvantages of other groups. Spreading awareness is vital for privileged individuals to see their advantages and work to bridge the gap of injustice between groups of people.

I agree with the comments

Submitted by SBU-14S2012 on

I agree with the comments above. I believe that it is extremely important to have people become informed about white heterosexual supremacy. This is something that can turn the world around if we fix, but it can also hurt it and go in a negative direction from where we are now. With all of the suicides that have been going on all over the world, with little boys and girls taking their life because they are gay is awful. This needs to stop and come to an end once and for all.

Homophobia: Another One Added To The List Of Oppressions

Submitted by CSULB-JParada54S2012 on

In today’s world, homosexuality does not fall from anyone’s vocabulary, so much so that kids in grade school know what being gay means. Many argue that children should not be spoken to about homosexuality but that’s not the real issue, the real issue is how homosexuality is being portrayed by those leading discourses on the topic. Homophobia is certainly a real thing, fear of lesbians and gay men exist, what else would explain why gay marriage continues to be illegal? Or why being called a “homo” is the ultimate insult? When something or someone scares you, you usually don’t speak wonders of it, you demean it and you isolate yourself from it. Homophobia or at least the HATE of lesbians and gay men further amplifies negative connotations and stereotypes. Consequently, we as a society adopt these beliefs and prey on homosexuality. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all know of at least one gay individual, why then can’t we have empathy and exercise acceptance? Professor Warren J. Blumenfeld made a great point in his book, “Homophobia locks all people into rigid gender based roles that inhibit creativity and self-expression”. That is to say that the more hatred there is the more we are pushing our brothers and sisters into a position in which they are forced to take on no identity or purpose in fear of being shunned. But here’s the thing, in our society people get shunned either way! Growing up in a Catholic Salvadorian household, homosexuality was a conversation that must not be had. The Catholic religion tells us time and time again that a marriage is between a man and a woman. Like a great comedian once said, “It was Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”. But what I never understood (and still don’t) is if only God can judge why is the church teaching US to judge? As a practicing and devout Catholic, homosexuality as portrayed by the church is heard loud and clear, but do I agree with it? No. To me it’s very similar to interpreting the Constitution, times change, therefore the way we interpret the document should as well. Nevertheless, the widespread hatred of lesbians and gay men must be diminished if we are to end that part of oppression. The fact that conferences are being hosted that foster these conversations is certainly encouraging and the fact that college students are partaking in it is inspiring. The burden falls on the younger college generation to enlighten the generation before us and especially after us.

Great Post!

Submitted by CSUSM-21F2012 on

You touched on a lot of key factors that play into homophobia. I am gay and I actually don't mind being called "Homo"....fag, faggot, and dike are the words that hurt. It really depends who your gay audience is, you can never be too careful when using a gay term towards someone. Some people are so uncomfortable with themselves that they hate any kind of label, even gay or lesbian. OR, you can run into someone at a gay bar who is so comfortable in their own skin that they refer to themselves as every single label in the book. You really have to read your audience well or not use labels at all. Great post!


Submitted by SBU-16S2012 on

The only way to correct a problem is to identity it. I think that the radio show mentioned in the article is a solution to one of the sub-problems of oppression, which is the need for the dissemination of knowledge to ignorant minds. While I think this type of forum is an excellent way to promote equality and spread the word about the wrongness of racial injustice, etc., I think that such programs should be developed for younger generations. After all, racial socialization begins at a very young age. I tend to compare this thought with the notion that children are more likely to learn a second language when they are younger, as opposed to trying to learn one in high school. The language of respect and equality works the same way. Teach children the words of respect when they are young and hopefully they will practice it for the rest of their lives.

Its about loving a person.

Submitted by CSULB-EAydogan4... on

Before explaining what are the terms gay/lesbian/straight/transsexual mean, we need to teach our kids what is to love someone. When you actually understand the love, it is almost impossible to see LGBT as a context to hate for. Or teaching to wide up points of view is another critical element to eliminate the problem. Before I came to the States as an international student, I did not hate LGBT but I was not even ready to talk about it and have friends from that community. However, since I was thought to be open-minded in my family, I even have gay close friends that I go out and hang out with now... In order to solve a problem like this is not to inform people about sexual interactions people have with each other. We need to start from the root of the problem.

Solving A Problem

Submitted by SBU-30S2012 on

I agree with the comments that are on this story already. The problem of white heterosexual supremacy is huge in the United States. You hear it all over the news, college campuses, etc. Some hate crimes are committed because of people's sexual preferences. Take for example the case of Matthew Sheppard. He was taken outside of a bar, tied to a fence, and beat to death, simply because he was gay. Things like these are so wrong. I think that the radio show that was mentioned in the article was doing the right thing by speaking out against this, and it will take many more radio shows to continue the oppression of white heterosexual supremacy. However, if everyone works together to put a stop to it, then there is a chance that it could actually happen.

Thank you!

Submitted by CSUSM-21F2012 on

Yes, thank you for mentioning Matthew Sheppard. There are so many other cases just like his. Gay bashing is a serious problem and a very severe hate crime. It makes gay people afraid to say that they are gay or afraid to even share a passionate moment in public for fear of being followed and hurt, even killed. It's a scary world out there and you never know what is going on in the person's mind right next to you. I am gay, and I can't even go to straight clubs because of this. I fear that someone might follow my girlfriend and I home. Well that and the constant annoyance of guys trying to grind up against me. There are a lot of creeps out there, we all have to be careful and keep an eye out for others.

Prejudice is learned

Submitted by CSUSM-3F2012 on

All of us were born with without prejudices. It is in our upbringing that we LEARN what is right and what is wrong. It is here, in this learning stage of life that our ideas and prejudices are formed. If we are raised in an environment of hatred, that is what we learn. While most would call it ignorance, I just call it hateful. We all know someone gay or lesbian, whether we know it or not. The question is, should we judge someone differently because of their sexual orientation? I think not. We need to teach our children everyone is different and unique in their own way. We need to teach acceptance and tolerance. It seems the most critical comments I hear regarding homosexuals comes from the Christian community. I was raised to believe Jesus taught us to love everyone, from our neighbors to our enemies. Yet, they have all the answers regarding their prejudice of the homosexual community. I agree with the other comment, let’s teach our children what it means to love someone. Does it really matter who someone falls in love with? And does that have some bearing on any of my relationships? I think not. Tolerance, equality, and respect need to be taught early and reinforced throughout life, by all of us.


Submitted by CSUSM-21F2012 on

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and all around HATE will never go anywhere. How do we learn such abysmal acts of hatred? Well it could be any number of things… the media, friends, family, school, and the primary values that are set forth on a child by their parents or guardians. We are taught these values as young children and carry it on until we are better educated through college, if people even go to college. Homophobia is not taught in elementary school or even high school, I sure know I didn't learn about it. As a gay woman, growing up and coming out of the closet when I was 17 was extremely difficult. I didn't know one gay person until I was 16. I didn't even know if it was okay to be gay, at that time there was nothing on T.V. about it so I didn't know how to react towards my feelings. My parents are Christian as am I, so you can imagine how extremely tough it was for them. Regardless, god loves all of us and he created us all equal. Whether your god is Catholic, Muslim, etc…it doesn't matter, he sees us all equally. Elders need to be more cautious on the use of words they choose to use around their children, it can seriously damage them for life. Only about four years ago, I was kicked out of a community pool because I kissed the girl I was seeing. Well a family of 4 thought it was disrespectful and went and told the people that run the community center. They had two children with them and look at the values they were teaching them! That it was okay to kick out two people who were sharing a moment with one another on the account of their sexual orientation. If we would have been a heterosexual couple I guarantee that wouldn't have happened. Some people have told me that it’s “such a waste” that I am gay. Ouch, talk about the typical stereotype! Only because I am a feminine lesbian I am a waste, if I was butch then I would fit the typical profile. Where do people get these ideas and values? Well they are nurtured into it at such a young age. First off, in order to even try and somewhat change the hate, children need to be educated about it in school, as soon as kindergarten. That is when children are at their prime and most vulnerable to the thoughts and ideas of those around them. We all need to be careful about what we say around children and take the initiative to teach them proper values in their adolescence.