AP nixes ‘homophobia’

No to Homophobia merchandise, credit ABC News http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-21/anti-homophobia-ads-to-air-at-afl-preliminary-finals/4273222

The Associated Press has dropped the word “homophobia” from its style book (used by journalists in the US and internationally), arguing that a phobia is a state of mind and possibly a mental disorder, and that it’s not appropriate for reporters to ascribe a mental disorder to people who make anti-gay statements.

I have to say I agree with the sentiment – homophobia is a poor-fitting word for anti-gay statements and actions, although it might well describe the motivation behind them. It’s also lexicographically contradictory – homo and phobia are from Greek words meaning “the same” and “fear of” respectively, so logically homophobia should mean “fear of (people who are) the same (as me)” – the opposite of homophobia as we understand it.

Words have tremendous social and political power so it’s important we have useful, well-understood terms to describe actions we are trying to call out. Everyone knows what “sexism” and “racism” are (although there’s been some discussion about the meaning of misogyny lately).

This is a long-winded way for me to get to a question: if “homophobia” is off the menu, what alternatives are there?

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