The National Hockey League issued a one game suspension to the Chicago Blackhawks Andrew Shaw for yelling “Fuck you, fuck you Faggot” from the penalty box during an April 19, 2016 playoff game. While reaction from the league was swift, there has been confusion about the use of his vocabulary as being homophobic or anti-gay.
A phobia is defined as a fear or aversion towards something tangible. Spiders are the number one phobia according to a 2014 Verywell.com study, then snakes, heights and flying round out the top ten. Therefore, a definition of homophobia should include being scared of homosexuals.
Scared is a feeling of being frightened of something or someone and that can lead to nervousness or intimidation. Being scared could allow someone to react defensively to a situation. With insects this could include yelling for someone to come and kill the spider on the wall or even the garden snake in the yard.
While being scared could cause such reactions, it also creates a fine line to define phobia versus a feeling. I have a word to suggest that is more definitive of the situation between homophobia or anti-gay, that word is prejudice.
Prejudice can be defined as a preconceived opinion not based upon any reasonable or actual experience. So, prejudiced feelings against something can be reflected as an uneducated decision. Removing the spider or snake eliminates the immediate fear, but its consequences are unknown to the habitat. Therefore, it is ignorant to behave prejudicially and out of fear rather than informed and knowledgeably.
Anyone who uses hurtful and mean language isn’t suffering from a phobia, they are prejudiced.
Morgan Freeman has been attributed with this 2012 tweet:
“‘I hate the word homophobia. It’s not a phobia. You are not scared; you are an asshole.’