VJack asked me to consider this article from the results of a recent survey into Homophobia in Australia.
The findings didn’t overly surprise me, according to the article the most homophobic person would be: a Baptist, or evangelical Christian, elderly male from Sydney’s southern suburbs. Scarily enough I was brought up a Baptist in the northern suburbs of Adelaide (see below), though I’m not quite elderly … yet.
Now I am not surprised at these findings except for the southern suburbs bit. The article also stated that males between 14 and 17 were more likely to hold anti-gay views than older males (except perhaps the elderly, but I don’t think the next generation of elderly will be the same. The current elderly are pre 60s peace and love hippy baby boomers who had (generally) very strict upbringings. The current crop of people (the baby boomers) who will be the next generation of elderly grew up in more enlightened times and, I would like to think, would be considerably less homophobic than the current generation of elderly folks). The current X and Y generations appear to be even more tolerant, so there is hope for the future.
Religion plays quite a large part in peoples tolerance to homosexuality. For whatever reason the religious, in general, are quite anti-gay, their leaders (the Pope is right up there in the charge) are forever demonising homosexuality. The Anglican church may end up splitting over views on homosexuality, the modern more liberal side say it’s Ok and the more old style Anglicans say it’s not. So while in general homosexuality, quite rightly, is much less demonised than it used to be by the general populace, hard-line religious leaders are still promoting the idea that it is wrong. Therefore there are still a lot of young people being indoctrinated, by their elders and persons of ‘authority’, that homosexuality is wrong. On a brighter note, even though young people are being bombarded from the pulpit with the message that homosexuality is wrong, many are making up their own minds and deciding it isn’t. There also seems a small (?) but strong movement within some religions to encompass the GLBT community.
I guess part of the change within the church reflects the change within the general populace. We are only now starting to see laws that permit homosexual marriages and give full legal rights to same sex partners. So will we see more and more churches accepting the homosexual community as the wider populace and the government becomes more accepting and reduces the barriers to homosexuals that aren’t there for heterosexual couples?
I have heard a few reasons why teenage boys are more homophobic. The article suggests that high schools are a “toxic environment promoting anti-gay beliefs” but why is that? I would need to do further research, but suspect it’s all to do with the increase of hormones and finding your purpose in life which happens at this time of your life. It’s only in your teenage years that you really start to explore your sexuality, and the world predominately promotes a heterosexual lifestyle. So if you are gay you might be thinking “why am I different” and perhaps trying to combat your feelings towards same sex partners because that’s what so many people tell you is the right thing to do? I have also heard the idea that some men will be overtly anti-gay because they have gay tendencies themselves, but because of “societal norms” they refuse to accept their own selves. (Not being homosexual I can’t really imagine what they think, but I have heard similar concepts in the media. I am happy to be corrected or enlightened by anyone with a greater knowledge than mine in this area.) During this stage of life males are starting to try and prove their masculinity, trying to do the “Alpha Male” thing. So what better way to show how tough you are than ridicule anyone who isn’t as tough and macho as you. Hence, calling other males a “poof” if they show any tendencies of the “stereotypical gay man”.
I know I went through this stage, for quite a few years, what with having a religious background and then starting work at a young age in a very male dominated environment. It was only after throwing off the shackles of religion, becoming comfortable with my own sexuality, and doing some research (not just listening to what people told me) that I realised that homosexuality is just a part of how some people are. That being Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, or Transgender/Transexual is perfectly normal for those people and that they aren’t all like the stereotypes often portrayed in the media.
As a heterosexual man, who quite adores the female body and how it interacts with the male body, I still find it difficult sometimes to comprehend why a person wouldn’t want to experience what I do. But then I have to stop myself and consider they probably think exactly the same about me “why wouldn’t he want to experience what I do”.
I know I still don’t always get it right when discussing this topic and hope I haven’t offended any members of the GLBT community who may read this article. Feel free to let me know if I have.
The article points out that research shows that the southern suburbs of Sydney has a high percentage of intolerance to homosexuality. The article states that this might be due to the
values of migrant communities and the influence of evangelical churches
Interestingly the north-western region of Sydney is cited as having a high rate of religious service attendance, so what’s happening down south? Could it just be the the high level of immigrants there, after all that was where the Cronulla riots where. Whilst that riot was racially motivated several churches were attacked. I can’t find the figures, but suspect there may be a fairly high level of Muslims ‘down south’, and they are not overly known for their tolerance to homosexuality.
Though a quick check using Google maps seems to indicate more Islamic centres out west, or south-west, rather than down south? Similar to the spread of Evangelical churches.
So I really have no idea (apart from some wild conjecture) why the southern suburbs are more anti-gay. Interestingly it’s not only Sydney where the homophobes seem to congregate in the southern suburbs. According to the Mapping Homophobia report, the outer south & east of Melbourne and the southern region of Brisbane are also the most homophobic of those cities. In Adelaide the most homophobic is the northern region, but with the southern region coming in a close second. Only Perth kicks the trend with the southern suburbs coming in at third place (though only 1% and 2% behind the top two regions).
I hope this satisfies VJack’s request, I welcome him and all others to express their views. Let me know why you think the southern regions might be so homophobic. Let me know of your own personal experiences with homophobia, either on the receiving or giving end; or just discuss the topic in general.
One last thing, the Friendly Atheist has just posted a very interesting interview with Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge who is about to release a book titled: Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians.