What's in a name?
What's in a name? Not in the Shakespearean sense; instead in the use of homophobic statements and words.
Recently I saw the advertisement on television produced by the No To Homophobia campaign. The advertisement highlights homophobic slurs and statements made in everyday situations. It encourages people to recognise the inappropriate and potentially harmful nature of these statements and to end homophobia in Australia. If you haven't had the chance to see this advertisement yet, definitely take the time to check out their website and see the great work being done by this group. www.notohomophobia.com.au
I was thrilled to see this advertisement, not only on commercial television, but during prime time early in the evening. A glimmer of hope amidst the negative messages and removal of rights that we in Queensland have faced since the state election eight months ago.
Homophobic statements and words are used so commonly that they are often ignored or simply accepted as part of the current language. These statements and words are frequently used to indicate that something or someone is inferior – the words are nothing more than an insult often not even referring to sexuality. While most people in society know not to use racial slurs and terms, the same does not apply to homophobic words and statements.
To truly see how pervasive a range of homophobic terms are used just take a look at the No Homophobes website (nohomophobes.com). This site collates the use of the following terms; Dyke, Faggot, No Homo and So Gay, as they are used on Twitter. The use of these words can be seen trended over a day, week or since the site commenced. As an example in the past week the term “so gay” has been used more than 76,000 times not to mention the term “faggot” which has been used in excess of 240,000 times.
The site also provides you with samples of the actual tweets and in most cases these terms are used as a direct insult.
Do you have the confidence to respond to homophobic statements or words when you hear them or do you see others around you addressing the fact that the use of this language is wrong? Easier said than done for most people. Be it at school, in a work environment or with friends, challenging homophobic language can be difficult. Difficult but not impossible, as shown recently by students from Wirreanda High School in South Australia. These students have banned the derogatory use of the term 'gay' in their school. What an inspirational group of students making a real difference in their environment.
While homophobic statements and words continue to be permitted in our day to day communication so freely and without objection, the implicit approval to continue to use this language exists. These tools, campaigns and action by students fill me with so much hope. Hope that we are moving closer to eroding the homophobia that permeates our day to day lives.