Thursday, May 16, 2013

Exposure Therapy




We’re disgusted by them, these divisive and destructive forces called homophobia and transphobia. We don’t want them to exist any more than we want war to exist. We hope our politicians and courts and schools work assiduously to eliminate both. But what's the real silver bullet that will guarantee eradication?

I believe it's what mental health professionals call exposure therapy. Granted, that's a frustratingly slow bullet, but it's an effective one. Enough of these bullets will eventually whittle homophobia and transphobia down to a religious anachronism, a prejudice to which only the most fervent fundamentalists will cling.

So how do we allies implement this strategy? By integrating the GLBTQ people we know into our everyday activities and conversations, thus exposing our relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to the nonthreatening nature of a group they might be wary of. We do it by demonstrating, without either apology or fanfare, how our lives have been enriched by these associations.

Consider the powerful movie American History X. In it, Edward Norton's character, a vicious white supremacist, is shorn of his hatred by the simple act of working with a black man in a prison laundry. Sure, the film is fiction . . . yet it isn't.  

Exposure therapy works. In terms of reorienting attitudes, it works better than classroom instruction and Constitutional amendments. How has any minority ultimately achieved genuine acceptance and respect? Primarily through this, the quiet and relentless stripping away of misconceptions born of ignorance; through believers in equality leading by example rather than strident exhortation.

So maybe, just maybe, if we think of the homophobic people in our lives the same way we think of other phobics -- those with irrational fears of airplanes or insects, water or heights -- and we try to “cure” them through exposure to what they fear, we can make significant inroads.

Even if it’s one person at a time.

*

If you feel like commenting on or tweeting this post (and I get ten or more responses), I'll gladly enter you into a drawing for a download of one of my m/m romance titles -- your choice. You can find them all HERE. The deadline is May 27.

Be sure to check out at least some of the other participants in the Hop Against Homophobia. Man, it's a big one!

Twitter: @HAHAT_HOP and #HAHAT

        

31 comments:

Helena said...

I do agree with what you say. Some people fear what they don't know. Others need to interact with those who are different to learn that they are not different in the ways that matter. But it's important that those who will be exposed (I'm deliberately using that word in a different way) will be protected while those getting to know them do their learning.

KimberlyFDR said...

Thank you for taking part in the hop!

kimberlyFDR@yahoo.com

jeayci said...

Harvey Milk was right. The more people come out, the more the world learns to accept. I've had several people over the years tell me they were fine with whatever two people did in the privacy of their bedroom, but raising kids was another matter. Think of the children!.

Then they met me, learned I had two moms, and saw I'd turned out okay. They said that was enough to convince them they were wrong, there was in fact no reason same-sex couples shouldn't raise children.

One consciousness at a time, we're getting there...

Angela said...

Thanks for participating in the hop!

Angela
angela@angelastone.ca
http://angelastone.ca/blog-3

goddess-issa said...

Exposure therapy, first time I've heard that term. Usable with so many things.

Issa
cojazzchick AT yahoo DOT com

laurie said...

Thank you for taking part in the hop!

and i do agree if a lot more people did exposure therapy there'd be a lot less hatred

parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

ad0ffae6-78f6-11e1-8cde-000bcdcb5194 said...

Changing minds one at a time takes longer, but it may be the most effective way in the end...

vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

N.J. Nielsen said...

I love nothing better than talking about what I do for a living being an M/M author and the wonderful people I meet through my writing. I get strange looks and negative comments on occasion but do I care - no! because I believe that those same people go home and think about what they's heard and hopefully I can change the mind of one person - a slow process but I'm willing to try.

Urb said...

To find appropriate participants for exposure therapy, I need more exposers: Gay and trans* people who are out. Unfortunately, I can find plenty of rigorously homophobic exposees: Those would benefit from exposure. I don't feel inclined to do them any favors, nor expose the exposers to their virulent irrationality.
Urbanista
brendurbanist/at/gmail/dot/com

Susan said...

I find it is the insidious bigots who are the most resistant to exposure therapy. They are nice to LGBTQ people, but think this is a lifestyle choice. Many of them also believe in creationism. I still try.

skadlec1@yahoo.com

awindandbooks said...

Thank you for your great post. Thanks for participating in the blog hop!
-Marie

awindandbooks at gmail dot com

C Kennedy said...

Wow, what a terrific post!
Here's to the day that we no longer have a need for a Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia!
~Cody

stormymonday211 said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post! I think you're right that casually mentioning GLBTQ acquaintances and friends in conversations with family or straight friends might help. I have no openly GLBTQ people in my family and for some family members the concept is foreign in terms of not having had exposure. Not that they think it is wrong, just some general misconceptions. Meeting a lesbian collegue, now a friend, at my new job really helped in that respect. Whenever I talk about her, how nice she is and what problems she and her wife face, my family is interested in her and actively asks about her. It's sad to see still so many prejudices out there, even in the relatively "safe" western Europe.

stormymonday AT gmx DOT net

Karl said...

Totally agree that small things everyday will help. Please count me in.

Thanks
Karl
slats5663(at)shaw(dot)ca

JPadawan11 said...

That was a wonderful post. What you said was so true. I would love to enter the giveaway. Thank you for participating in the hop.

Beth
JPadawan11@gmail.com

Jbst said...

Thanks for being part of the Hop!

strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

kali-mar said...

Totally agree with you. I was "exposed" as a child, having several
GLBTQ family members, and they were all treated the same within the extended family as the rest of them. This enabled us to correct/inform anyone who had issues with this by explaining that it was normal.

nancy said...

Hmm, interesting possibilities. How about sentencing young punk homophobes to house arrest in the home of a gay couple. Course you would want to arm the couple with stun guns for when punk started mouthing off. That might make a good story as well, feel free to use my idea.

4bafec12-8f92-11e2-816f-000bcdcb8a73 said...

It's the first time I've heard the term Exposure therapy but the idea isn't one that is new to me. Thank you for the interesting post and for taking part in the hop.

humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

Sophie Bonaste said...

Thank you so much for your informative post and participating in this amazing hop!

sophiebonaste@gmail.com

Cornelia said...

Thanks for the post and hop.
cvsimpkins@msn.com

Nona Raines said...

Wow, what you said is so true. So many people think they don't know any gay folks because homophobia has gays closeted due to fear of being ostracized, losing a job, etc. When we realize that our colleagues, friends and family include gay people our minds open up. Thanks for participating in the hop.

nona (at) nonaraines dot com

ShirleyAnn said...

Thank you for your interesting post. I never heard of Exposure Therapy but it sounds good.

ShirleyAnn@speakman40.freeserve.co.uk

Lena Grey said...

It's more difficult to hate someone if you know them. Personally, I don't understand how you can hate someone you don't even know. Thanks KZ!

lena.grey.iam@gmail.com

Penumbra said...

Thanks for participating in this great hop :)

penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

a03dc980-9900-11e2-b72b-000bcdcb471e said...

Thank you, K.Z. I'm with you on thinking the more people are exposed to differences, the more accepting they get. Not 100% true, but certainly better than how things are when like sees only like.

I don't know about other people, but I start to get really uncomfortable in a place if there's little diversity. Always makes me think the people who choose that don't want "others" to be there. Creeps me out.

Thanks so much for being part of the hop and sharing with all of us!

Carolyn
caroaz [at] ymail [dot] com

Erica Pike said...

I agree that exposure is the best method, hence this hop ^.^ Okay, it's only a drop in the ocean, but at least it's a drop.

Erica
eripike at gmail dot com

Juliana said...

Thanks so much for your post in this blog hop! Such an important subject.
OceanAkers @ aol.com

Sherry said...

Thank you for taking part in the hop!
sstrode at scrtc dot com

Peggy said...

Thank you for the post.

peggy1984 at live dot com

Emily said...

Exposure is the best method. A lot of homophobes view gays as aliens in a way. Know that they exist (or probably do) but fear and hate them because you've never met one. We need to show people that we're all ordinary people who just happen to not be straight.

tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com