More information about homophobic harassment and your rights
Homophobia damages relationships between GLBTIQ people and the wider social community. By marking GLBTIQ people as inferior, homophobia may unwittingly put pressure on straight people to demonstrate aggression or rejection toward GLBTIQ people. It may limit the avenues available to GLBTIQ to develop their skills and to contribute to important decision-making. It may also have negative effects on relationships between heterosexual people; for example, where showing (non-sexual) affection or support for someone of the same sex may be misread as being “gay”.
Homophobia alienates people. It exacerbates the differences between ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ at the expense of the many similarities. It asks that the GLBTIQ community be silent, and suppresses important, alternative perspectives regarding gender identity and sexuality, and life in general from being heard, let alone understood. It alienates, dehumanizes, and most of all, makes it difficult for us to appreciate true human diversity and to acknowledge the complexity of human experience.
It is possible to differentiate between homosexual action and homosexual identity. In other words, just because a man may have sex with another man does not mean that he will necessarily identify as homosexual, or as gay. He may rather identify as straight…
In this case homosexuality for some people may simply be their attraction to members of the same sex, rather than a form of sexual identity. Yet this is not the only way to view homosexuality. The expression of an individual’s, or a group’s, sexual orientation can appear in society in many forms.
Take heterosexuality for example. The expression of heterosexuality moves far beyond a man and a woman in a bedroom. For example, when a boy and girl ‘break up’ on television, heterosexuality is expressed. When a woman is asked by her friend about her husband, heterosexuality is expressed. It is much the same for homosexuality.
‘Being transgender’ therefore, may refer to a spectrum of experience and appearance. A person with a body that is clearly female may identify as a man – they are ‘transgender’. That same person may then change their body, behaviour, and dress to both indentify and look like a man – they are ‘transgender’. Some people who fall under the category of transgender may not wish to indentify as only a man or only a woman. They may feel that neither category fully articulates their identity or experience. This is a legitimate stance in regard to gender identity and experience. The perception that one can/should only be either a “man” or a “woman” is exactly that, a perception. Transgendered people are showing us the limitations to everyday gender expectations, and are paving the way for new forms of identification.
However, whilst it is to be expected that a certain level of discomfort will arise when considering doing this, if you do feel it would be an appropriate option to resolving the situation we encourage you to give it a go. Sometimes people do not realising that what they are doing is harassing and telling them how it is effecting your life can often be enough to stop the harassment. It is also possible when considering this option to bring a friend or someone you feel is good in these situations to approach the harasser with you. This is not to bully the harasser, rather to ensure that you feel as comfortable as possible and so that your friend may ensure you get your message across clearly should you feel it hard to do so on your own.