Counseling and Wellness

Reconstructionist Definitions of Homophobia/Biphobia and Heterosexism

Current Definitions

Homophobia/Biphobia: An illogical fear of homosexuals and bisexuals.

Hetrosexism: View that the world is heterosexual and thus all customs and behaviors conform to this.

Reconstructionist Definitions

Homophobia/Biphobia: An attitude.  An attitude is defined as a disposition to respond favorably or unfavorably to the self, others, and environment.  Therefore, homophobia/biphobia is an unfavorable disposition towards people who are Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual.

Heterosexism: A belief.  A belief is defined as an assumption about self, others, and environment that an individual possesses and to which the individual attributes importance.  Therefore, heterosexism is defined as a belief in the inherent superiority of demonstrating intimacy only towards members of opposite sex and therefore a belief in the right to dominate and set societal standards and norms.

The Relationship Between a Belief and an Attitude

Heterosexism is a belief that someone may have of the world.  The presence of people who are Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual challenges the validity of this belief.  Rather than change the belief, a reactive attitude (homophobia/biphobia) is formed to reinforce the belief.  People who are Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual and are out is a further challenge and violence (physical, verbal, political, social, religious) becomes the final reactive action in attempts to maintain the belief.

At anytime in the cycle, the belief and/or attitude can change.

This information is posted with the permission of its author: Barry A. Schreier, Ph.D.