It seems to me, and I have absolutely no hard evidence to back this up other than a general sense, that there's been an uptick over the last year of straight people trying to prove that other straight people, who are clearly homophobic, are not homophobic. It's almost like they know homophobia's going out of style, so now's the time to pretend like everyone is so obviously beyond it that accusing someone of being homophobic is, in fact, worse than actually being homophobic. Meanwhile, our community's status stays the same.
I stumbled on no better example of that mentality than the Jesse Helms Center's attempt to repaint the late Senator as gay-friendly. Now they're clearly a biased source, motivated by salvaging the late Senator's reputation instead of presenting the truth, but that's informative in a way. What are the biases in place when a straight columnist writes that someone he doesn't know isn't homophobic because he's "not afraid of homosexuals"? What does a straight person seek to gain by covering for others?
Anyway, check it out:
Fiction: Senator Helms was a "homophobe."
Truth: The universally accepted definition of this pejorative term is a person characterized by homophobia, i.e. an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. An honest review of the facts of Senator Helms' record reveals the falseness of this label.
They're talking about the man who said people get HIV due to their "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct." But don't you see? The real insult is calling him a homophobe!
Senator Helms had no fear of homosexual individuals. He believed that laws against physical violence should protect all members of our society and should be enforced justly by those who serve in law enforcement and the justice system. He believed that brutality was no less egregious when victims were members of any particular segment of our society; it was always wrong and should not be tolerated.
As a matter of personal faith, Senator Helms did not believe that God intended men or women to adopt a homosexual lifestyle. His views were entirely compatible with the tenants of the Manhattan Declaration and shared by a majority of Americans, as indicated by the support for laws reserving marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
Senator Helms was known and respected by all who recognized his concern for people. He was known for his kindness and personal efforts to help those in distress. How telling that those who choose to portray him as something he never was exhibit no more conscience in repeating lies about him after his death than they did in expressing their hatred of him, defacing his home, insulting his staff or invading his offices when he was alive.
His detractors persist in their vilification even though it was Senator Helms who worked most tirelessly to protect the very principles of freedom that homosexuals are denied in many other nations, including the seven Muslim nations where they would be subject to the death penalty simply because of their presumed sexual orientation. [emphasis theirs]
Personally, I don't see how they addressed the "fiction." They admit that he would have agreed with the Manhattan Declaration if he were alive today, which is a homophobe manifesto. They say that he opposed same-sex marriage but supports opposite marriage, which is a policy that separates people according to sexual orientation and grants material privileges to heterosexual behavior. And if he was really concerned that the criminal justice system wasn't fair, why didn't he ever fight sodomy laws and seek increased protections for LGBT prisoners?
The last statement on Muslim countries doesn't make much sense either. He didn't fight to legalize homosexuality in those countries. The most he did was just hate them as much as he hated us. He doesn't get extra credit for that.
He was one of the main opponents of HIV/AIDS funding and prevention in Congress and used his position of power to prolong the epidemic and make sure more people would die from it. Just because he eventually came around, decades later, and learned that not everyone got HIV through homosexuality and therefore some people deserved to be treated, doesn't make him a great person. It only further demonstrates his homophobia and makes him an callous authoritarian who used other people's lives and deaths as a way to control their behavior and force them back in the closet. Saying "I agree now, decades after the fact, that it's important to fight HIV/AIDS because there are children and heterosexuals who get it" isn't evidence that he wasn't homophobic.
Anyway, they did hit all the points here when it comes to straight people defending homophobes from charges of homophobia. They snidely point out that the target isn't "afraid" of gay people. They explain his clearly homophobic behavior as a result of deeply-held religious beliefs. They point to someone else who's even worse. And then they state that anyone who accuses him of homophobia is the one engaging in insults, since accusing someone of homophobia is worse than being homophobic.
Like I said before the jump, the Jesse Helms Center is, admittedly, not a disinterested party. But when it comes to straight people saying that other straight people aren't homophobic, no one is a disinterested party, since I've never seen someone argue that up is down without any personal motivation.