Yes, I think that’s a very important distinction, Sam. Lots and lots of people are sort of passive LGBTQ allies. They aren’t particularly homophobic, or at least they’re much less so than those who support discrimination. They may have gay or trans friends. They may vote for progressive candidates.

But they live in a world that’s systemically homophobic and for the most part, they don’t even see it. They’ll think nothing of belonging to a church that condemns LGBTQ people as immoral. They’ll allow their children to attend schools that aren’t inclusive or that don’t support LGBTQ students. They’ll argue that people are entitled to their “beliefs” about the sinfulness of gender and sexual minorities.

They aren’t “anti-homophobic” in any real sense. Many LGBT people are like that too! I run into homophobia-tolerant sentiment all the time in comments to my stories (mostly on Facebook for some reason) from gay white men. Trans people and lesbians, in my personal experience at least, are much more likely to be strongly anti-homophobic and anti-transphobic. I’ve been wondering about that lately, but I can’t find any good data anywhere to even tell if my experiences are more than just coincidence.

Thanks for pointing out the term to me. I should use it again and more often. When I write about the need for allies, I think what I’m really writing about is the need for more truly anti-homophobic people in our society. The term is strong and clear.


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Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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