AI: I’m Not a Homophobe, But…


At the example of the “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” Christian motto (apparently Google assigns it to Gandhi? Not sure that’s accurate), our grown-up bullies tend to create increasingly irrational wordplays to shield themselves from being called – the horror! – homophobes.

Tip: if you feel the need to start any of your sentences with “I’m not a homophobe…”, uh, you probably are.

The last one I  heard, and possibly the one I get more often, was via Facebook (what a surprise, right? Such a safe place…), and went something like “I’d like you to know I’m not a homophobe, but don’t you think gay marriage is kind of just making things worse? Wouldn’t you guys rather lessen your exposure a little bit?”, a slight variation of the great “I’m not a homophobe, but maybe you guys could respect us enough to keep it private?” (Maybe we should just stay closeted? Cease to exist? *sigh*)

What about you guys? What’s the worst “I’m not a homophobe, but…” sentence you’ve ever heard? What’s the one you get more often? How often do you hear this kind of “argument”? What’s your usual response to it?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 3pm ET.


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  1. One I’ve been getting a whole bunch lately, when calling people out on their cissexism, the response of “but I support trans rights! I’m on your side!”

    A couple days ago I got this after someone had said, in response to the Hitchie award thing (that led to the awesome Blag Hag thing, where Rebecca won and I ended up #5!)… this guy being the same guy who had made all those horrible statements to Greta (#2!) that DJ Grothe defended and all THAT stuff… he said “…inclusion of a woman or transgender, or other not-male, person on the list”.

    So I called him out on treated “woman”, “man” and “transgender” as separate categories. Implicitly suggesting trans people aren’t women or men, and do not overlap with those categories.

    His response? To paraphrase: “But I’m an ally! I was trying to support trans inclusion in the discussion!” (they already WERE included… note my presence on Jen’s list as a female atheist) “you’re twisting my words! AND BESIDES everyone KNOWS that women and trans people ARE separate categories DUH”

    I also got this response when, after my appearance on Godless Bitches, someone made a very, very angry youtube video explaining why I was “pretentious and wrong to expect other people to conform to my reality” in referring to myself as a woman. When I pointed out that he obviously didn’t pay much attention to the podcast (he also kept calling me “Amy” in the video, apparently not even bothering to double check which Skepchick had been the guest and which had offered the jewelry for their contest) and had very much misunderstood it, and missed several key points, his response was “BUT I’M ON YOUR SIDE!!!”

    Apparently all it takes for someone to be an “ally” and “on my side”, and therefore above any criticism, is that they not abjectly hate and loathe trans people and consider us sub-human and undeserving of any rights.

    That’s all.

    This is an article I saw today that I think is absolutely of PARAMOUNT importance to all those who consider themselves “allies” and “on our side”:

    • Thinking about this more, I’ve decided:

      If your first response upon being called out on cissexism is to DECLARE yourself an ally and/or on my side, and act as though this absolves you of criticism, it instantly and immediately strips you of the right to be considered an ally.

      I think something that anyone who is an ally to any minority needs to know that that minority are the ones who confer the status of ally, you cannot simply proclaim it for yourself.

      I would LIKE to think of myself as an ally to trans men, genderqueer folk, gay men, lesbians, bi/pansexual folk, intersex people, asexual people, people of colour, people with disabilities, etc. But I don’t get to proclaim myself that, and I especially don’t get to act like it gives me special privileges to be above criticism. I can only work TOWARDS it and hope that I am regarded as such by them.

    • Today during some tumblr drama someone was like “I’m an ally to trans people but I can’t help but criticize the way in which you trans people are calling this person out for doing something oppressive.”

      And it’s like ok it’s really cool how you “can’t help but” defend the cis person against criticism but you had no problem ignoring the cissexist thing that happened in the first place, thanks so much ally you’re the best.

      • I figure you are probably paraphrasing, but when people use phrases such as “you trans people” it is telling. When they define or describe someone as belonging to a group other than their own. Much easier to dismiss the concerns and values that others have when they aren’t a part of your own group.
        And since they are so much smarter, they know what is or is not important to you. How would you know what you find important?
        I figure that if I think I’m not biased against another group, I probably actually am biased. Not that I’m not perfect in every way and have any need to remember that, mind you.

  2. I guess I live in an area of the United States where homophobia is far more blatant then this kind of argument generally implies, but the one time I heard it that really shocked me was when my bisexual coworker said it. Being bisexual myself we were speaking of the different receptions we got when dating same gender versus opposite gender, and to hear him say “Well yeah getting bullied sucks, but don’t you think gay people should just keep it out of public?” floored me.

    I promptly flattened him by saying “Oh you really think your next boyfriend would appreciate you being so ashamed of his mere existence?” and he looked really embarrassed. He’s been sheltered all his life, so I don’t think anyone had ever pointed out that double standard to him before. Since that conversation thankfully his attitude has begun to shift in a positive direction but…wow.

    • Good for you for making that point. Gah, internalized prejudice is the worst. Even at Pride, in *San Francisco*, of all places, a bi girl made some judgmental comments to me regarding the feminine presentation and behavior of her ex, whom I was going to the parade with. Seriously?

      • Speaking of Pride events, my very first one I was bullied by three very large gay men for having the audacity to make an It Gets Better video while being bi and therefore not gay enough for their tastes. I didn’t know what to say I was so floored. Thankfully a lovely trans woman rescued me and made sure I was ok.

  3. I’m a high school teacher and this is my first year teaching as a woman. What I’ve heard is: “I have no problem with what you’re doing, but do you think you should still be teaching?”

    To which I responded: “I am still the highly qualified professional I was at the end of last year, only prettier.”

  4. I actually once had someone say to me “I’m not a homophobe, but I just find the idea of two guys having sex to be disgusting.”

    I said, “You’re definitely a homophobe.”

    And he pulled the “do you even know the definition of homophobe?” on me.


    The one I hear most often is “I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman” followed quickly by “but I’m not a homophobe. I have lots of gay friends.”

    • Definition of homophobia:

      Finding homosexuality to be fearful, disgusting, hateful or ridiculous. Basically any irrational, negative emotional response to homosexuality.

      So yeah… did HE even understand the definition of homophobia?

      • Of course he didn’t. He said “phobia means fear, and I’m not afraid.” It was pointless to argue any further, I just said I wasn’t interested in talking to him anymore.

    • There are plenty of sexual practices I find kind of disgusting. However the difference between that and being a homophobe or other shade of bigot is that I don’t share what that list is with anyone but my partners (because they need to know what is and isn’t on the sexual table) or judge others for doing them. As long as everyone is a consenting adult it’s none of my business.

      • Of course there are things I find disgusting, but I don’t preface it with “I’m not a _____phobe, but I find ____ disgusting.”

        It’s not so much that he found two guys having sex disgusting that was the problem, it was his definition of homophobe.

        Plus, yeah, saying this to an openly gay man–who, as far as I remember, never asked–was quite baffling.

        • Part of the difference is that I don’t focus on the things that disgust me.

          And being gay isn’t just about a sex act. When I think of my gay friends I think about everything else about them but what they do privately, same as with my straight friends.

    • Whenever I hear “I have a lot of gay friends” I always respond with “What are their names?”. It quite often reveals that in fact they don’t have any gay friends at all, and they’re just saying it in the hope that you won’t call them out as a homophobe.

    • Actually, my favorite version of that one is “…but do they really have to shove it down our throats?”

      I’m sorry, but I’ve never understood why the anti-equality crowd prefers that phrase so much. Maybe because I can’t call them out on their homophobia when I’m giggling like a 12-year-old?

    • Shortly after I came out as asexual to my mother, and after I argued with and/or answered all of her invasive questions for about an hour, she said “well I guess it’s okay, just don’t flaunt it”. Apparently she considered my coming out to her, and mentioning that I was going to a meet up, as flaunting it 🙁

    • Groan. Yeah, and then they go blithely walking down the street with their opposite-sex partner, arms around each other and occasionally smooching. Then they go home and watch several dozen het couples doing the same things all over the TV. Oh, but that’s not flaunting, oh no, because, see, that’s norrrrrrrrrmmmmallllllll.

  5. Being a rather large, bearded straight man, people (mostly other men) tend to forgo the pretence of “I’m not a homophobe but…” in the mistaken belief that I’m going to share their horrendous views. I get the same thing with racism, being a white guy in South Africa, a lot of people seem to feel comfortable making horribly racist remarks to me. In both these instances they tend to be quite taken aback that I don’t share their bigotry, and then start back peddling with the “I don’t have gay/black people”.

    • I get this a lot too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a coworkers or casual acquaintance just launch into a tirade about those damned gays/women/natives/immigrants and assume that since I’m a straight white male I’m going to agree with them, or at least not challenge them.

      The way I figure it is that if I’m going to go around calling myself a feminist* or a ____ ally my most important role is to challenge those assumptions that I’m going to agree with you or at least take some stand of solidarity with you because I’m part of your in-group**. I’m not. I think you should always feel uncomfortable voicing homophobic, (cis)sexist, racist, etc. views around anybody.

      *This is one thing I’d like to thank the Godless Bitches for. I previously considered myself a feminist ally until I had a chance to hear their definition of feminism. Then I realized that, yeah, that’s me, I’m apparently a feminist.

      **You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve heard “Well, c’mon, you must see what I’m saying, you’re white/straight/a man/etc.”

  6. Today on tumblr: “lady parts are vaginas, not penises. that’s not “cissexism,” it’s biological fact.”

    I love it when someone makes a statement that is almost word for word the definition of [cissexism/racism/biphobia/etc.] and then tries to say that it isn’t that.

  7. My least favorite “I’m not homophobic but…” is “I’m not homophobic, but I just think it’s wrong.”

    This is frustrating because, quite frankly, where do you go from there? You think I and a significant number of my friends deserve to be second-class citizens because you “feel” it’s not right? Does that mean I should be able to hit you upside the head because I “feel” you’re an idiot? Drives me up the wall.

    I get the less-extreme example of this in an organization I’m part of. They have leaders in the form of a king and queen, a position won by right of arms (it’s a historical re-enactment group) where one of the people wins and their chosen “inspiration” serves in the other position. Normally the king wins the tournament and his consort is named queen for the 6 month term. Right now there is a lot of controversy over whether same-sex partners should be allowed on the throne. Last weekend, while at the event, I was discussing with a friend of mine whom I respect this controversy and he said he was against it because “two men or two women on the throne just doesn’t fit the ideal that I think of.” He even prefaced it with “You all know I’m not homophobic, but…”

    I had to walk away I got so angry. The nerve of him to think that people should be treated differently because *his* vision isn’t met. It makes my blood boil thinking about it even now.

    • I’m pretty sure I’m familiar this organization, and yeah this debate is ridiculous. Some people won’t hesitate to bend historical fact purely for the sake of fun but for tolerance? Don’t be silly.

  8. Mine is when people (parents) say, “I’m not homophobic, I just would just worry for my child if they were gay. I don’t want them to have a hard life.”

    This infuriates me!! To me it feels like it masks hatred and ignorance behind the parents “looking out” for the welfare of their child.

    It’s funny how these parents have such a strong reaction to being gay but not other lifestyle choices that might endanger them, like say if their child bought a motorcycle, joined ballet or joined the football team. Would the parents tell them that motorcycles/ballet/football is wrong, disgusting or unnatural because they are worried about the number of concussions they will receive, their idea of body image or getting their feelings hurt from all the smacktalk used on the field? No, they would probably just invest in really good protective gear.

    If your kid thinks they might be gay or is even simply experimenting with their sexuality get them some really good protective gear.

    Instill within them that they are loved, no matter what and they are perfect. So that when/if they get harrassed or gay-bashed they will have the self-esteem to say to the person “No! You’re the idiot! I’m awesome!” and let the words run of their backs not internalizing it as so many gay youth do.

    Don’t “worry” about them. Worrying is useless, and perpetuates shame and guilt.

  9. OMG, you spelled Gandhi correctly! Seems like hardly anyone gets that one right anymore, along with “led/lead”.

    “…don’t you think gay marriage is kind of just making things worse” – reminds me of a classic cartoon 🙂

    “…that minority are the ones who confer the status of ally, you cannot simply proclaim it for yourself” — reminds me of another classic cartoon 😀

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