I came across a blog the other day that made me squirm a little bit. It was a short rant about how some person or another hated people who are “reverse homophobic” and think that gay people are by far superior to straight people in every way.
So I think its pretty safe to say that anyone hating any group of people or claiming that one group of people is superior to another group by default is problematic. But the term “reverse homophobia” is also very problematic. If we define homophobia as a system of oppression that benefits the heterosexual and heteronormative majority at the expense of every other sexual minority or gender variant group, which for the sake of simplicity in this argument we will, this is a very problematic statement. Why? Because it doesn’t exist. The group that does not hold power cannot “oppress” the other group, even if its true that they do hate or resent the group that holds power. In our society, a group of queer people are not benefited at the expense of straight people in any scenario. Even if the situation is on an individual level and a queer person commits and act that one could be deemed “oppressive” to a straight person, chances are the person who identifies as straight in that situation still has the upper hand, the advantage, and the power to oppress. How? The person that hold power in a conflict is the person who has the power to take it away from the individual level.
So lets say we have a queer identified person and a straight identified person, and they are engaged in this very argument. Said queer person has claimed that all queer people are superior, said straight person disagrees. This straight person could (not saying this would happen, just that it could) could them use the power and beliefs of the majority to shame the queer person, make a huge generalized statement that queer people in general are prejudiced against straight people, or just write them off as some other queer person who’s views do not matter. In short, the straight person could use that argument and their experience with that queer person to validate their resulting views and apply them to that group of people, the queer community. Could this happen if it were the other way around? If it were the straight person expressing their views of straight superiority to a queer person? Nope, not really. Chances are that the queer person would never be able to get the majority of the population (which is straight) to believe that the majority (still straight) is full of prejudice, bigotry, or that they’re oppressive to queer people. Why? Because they don’t have the power of the majority to make them believe that.
This issue is not black and white. There is of course a lot overlap, but the point is that we recognize who holds power, who is really oppressed, and who just thinks they’re being oppressed because they don’t they are holding power or privilege.
As one last note, I would like to point out that as a queer person who is part of a community I view personally as warm and loving, I acknowledge that this view is easy to fall into. And we all have prejudices, which should be owned. On most given days I will still swear to anyone that a room of queer people is going to smell better than a room of almost any other group of people. As a community, we really just smell fabulous. Is it true? No idea. Do I still believe it? Absolutely. Is it oppressive? Probably not. Its when hate gets thrown into the mix and when a groups’ worth is thrown in with a power imbalance that things get yucky and oppressive and we should all be aware of that.