Supporting the Rights But Not the Gay?

November 28, 2014

So over the past week or so, I saw a couple of articles claiming that a survey found that many straight people who support same-sex marriage are still uncomfortable with public displays of affection by same-sex couples, moreso than by straight couples. On one hand, this sounds like just another case of cognitively knowing something is right (equal rights for same-sex couples, in this case) while personally not really caring for it for whatever reasons. Obviously, the latter feeling is not harmless, as this still promotes a heteronormative society and worldview that continues to marginalize LGBT people.

However, I see something more going on here, and it doesn’t surprise me at all. Sure, those who support rights but don’t want to witness “the gayness” might just be uninformed and on their way to greater acceptance. But something like this might call into question why such people support gay rights if they are so uncomfortable with it.

If their support for LGBT rights does not come from support for LGBT people and life, then perhaps it really only comes from opposition to homophobia. Opposition to homophobia, or more specifically the types of people who are or are more likely to be homophobic, is NOT the same thing as support for LGBT people. I mean, it’s an important part of it, definitely. But it’s nowhere near all there is to it. Truly supporting marginalized people involves a lot more soul searching and radical change than simply disliking the correct people.

I’ll touch on this again at some point (it’s almost December, after all!), and have to some degree already, but it’s just yet another example of people confusing hate with love, mudslinging with progress.

But, in the case here, it might in fact just be, as said, people still on their way to better understanding how to be properly supportive of LGBT people who haven’t quite gotten there yet. And even just supporting the legal rights is still hugely helpful. It’s just important to keep in mind that proper support for people cannot be based on hate, and to be careful that growing support doesn’t veer into that direction. It’s a sad place to be and ultimately defeating.