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HOMOPHOBIA.

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba

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If you look up "homophobia" in the dictionary, it will probably tell you that it is the fear of homosexuals. While many would take issue with that definition, it is nevertheless true that in many ways, it really is a fear of homosexuality or at least homosexuals, as we will see in this essay. Homophobia is widespread in America, far more widespread than most heterosexuals realize, and it is far more subtle, too. The discrimination it inspires touches the lives of many Americans, not just gay Americans, but all Americans. And America pays a very dear price for it as we shall see. The Effects of Homophobia On American Society In 1994, during the campaign of Oliver North for the U.S. Senate, there were several of his supporters seen carrying signs along a Virginia freeway that read, "Homophobia Doesn't Kill." By announcing that belief, they were exposing their ignorance to the world, because homophobia does kill, and it kills with surprising frequency. There are the obvious murders inspired by hatred. In the U.S., they number in the dozens every year. Abroad, the numbers run to the hundreds to thousands, no one knows the precise number for sure, as in many countries, the deaths of homosexuals are not considered worth recording as a separate category. But there are other ways in which homophobia kills. There are countless suicides every year by gay men and lesbians, particularly youth, which mental health professionals tell us1 are not the direct result of the victim's homosexuality, but is actually the result of how the homosexual is treated by society. When one lives with rejection day after day, and society discounts one's value constantly, it is difficult to maintain perspective and realize that the problem is others' perceptions, not one's own, which is why suicide is several times as common among gay men as it is among straight men.

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