How to deal with interpersonal homophobia at the time (safely)

Interpersonal homophobia is the homophobic speech and or actions of an individual towards others who are, or who are perceived to be lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender or queer. There is no overall “best” way to respond to every instance of interpersonal homophobia in every circumstance. When you’re in the situation you are the only one who can determine what the best way to respond, while still feeling both safe and empowered. The more informed you are about options for responding, the better you can be at making that decision.

When interpersonal homophobia happens, there’s not always time to respond or maybe we feel too unsafe or frozen to do so. And that’s okay. Since a homophobic incident can be startling and throw you off balance, practicing these responses aloud and role playing scenarios can help you feel more able to actually use them.

Six suggestions for how to talk to a homophobic person:

  1. Use strong body language. Look the person in the eyes; speak in a strong, clear voice. Using your voice, facial expressions, and body language together, without mixed signals, show assertiveness and strength.
  2. Project confidence and calm. Even if you do not feel that way, it is important to appear calm, serious, and confident.
  3. Do not apologize, make an excuse, or ask a question. You do not need to say sorry for how you feel or what you want. Be firm.
  4. You do not need to respond to diversions, questions, threats, blaming, or guilt-tripping. Stay on your own agenda. Stick to your point. Repeat your statement or leave.
  5. Do not swear or lose your temper: This type of reaction is the most likely to make the homophobe respond with anger and violence.
  6. Decide when you’re done. Success is how you define it. If you said what you needed to say and you’re ready to leave, do so.

The above information was sourced from: www.stopstreetharassment.org/strategies/assertive-responses/

What else can I do?

You can also report homophobia or get active through Rainbow Territory to stop institutional homophobia.