Editor's Note: Guest blogger Dominick L. Auci earned his Ph.D. in Pathology from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn and served for many years as Assistant Professor. He has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and currently resides with his husband in Louisville, Kentucky.
Last year, France joined the civilized world and legalized love by granting marriage equality to same-sex couples. That same year saw a 78 percent increase in reported acts of homophobia in France and a 54 percent increase in physical attacks. Homophobic insults on the Internet more than doubled.
These troubling stats come from a new report filed by SOS Homophobie, a French gay-rights organization that monitors the levels of homophobia in the country. The rise in French homophobia has been widely linked to marriage equality.
According to Marc Naimark -- vice president for external affairs for the Federation of Gay Games, who questioned the report statistics -- the rise in French homophobic incidence has positive aspects. In a recent blog post Naimark explains:
"...they are tied to the public debate about equality, which continues to progress" and "our response to this homophobia has been an increased sense of community, and that's a good thing, too."
He also notes perceptively that in the past, "gays often failed to associate the abuse they received individually as part of an attack on an entire community."
I'm a scientist. I like statistics and love questions, especially powerful ones. I especially liked Naimark's temerity to turn critical thinking inward. The faculty to recognize our own culpability in every unpleasant situation, particularly those that trouble us most, is a mark of maturity and a step away from puerile victimhood.
That's not to say that Alex Blaze isn't completely correct in his view that "gay people are far less to blame than anyone else for homophobia." Others are clearly far more culpable, but the LGBTQ community does have a part in homophobia.
Those familiar with any of the various twelve-step recovery programs will instantly recognize where I'm going. I'm not trying to assign blame or fault our tenacity for equality. I personally believe the only alternative is an ignominy more deplorable than death.
I'm talking about self-defeating actions and inactions, attitudes and perceptions, beliefs and affiliations that unconsciously turn our pain into suffering. As a non-Christian, I utterly reject the medieval notion that there is some redemptive or virtuous power inherent in human suffering. That is complete nonsense. The vast majority is self-inflicted and devoutly to be avoided.
When we fail to perceive every homophobic assault as an attack against the entire LGBTQ community, we contribute to homophobia. When we are insensitive to our own gender privileges or publically use hateful slurs like "f***ot" or "tr**ny" against each other, we license homophobia. When we make excuses for bigotry, subscribe to false equivalency, or preach the nonsensical notion of "tolerance" for intolerance, we support homophobia.
LGBTQ members of vitriolic, homophobic institutions like the Roman Catholic Church or the Republican Party, and those that apologize for them, are -- wittingly or not -- veritable accomplices. This list goes on.
Then there are the more insidious, darkly personal aspects of our part in homophobia -- like the hideous lies we whisper to ourselves in the lonely hours of the night, the accusations and defamations we repeat against ourselves, the negative opinions of others stolen to fuel self-hate. These suppressed feelings resurface as negativism, isolation, failed relationships, addictions, and even suicide.
Happily, many will not relate, but for those who do, there is a wonderful book called The Velvet Rage by Allen Downs that delves into LGBTQ inner battles with shame and worthlessness and the havoc they cause within us. Sometimes our part in homophobia is that we secretly believe it.
If homophobia is on the rise in France, Russia, Uganda, or anywhere else, the LGBTQ community surely has a part in it. We all do. We can take steps to raise the price of it to the sky, but in no sense can we control others, either by collaboration or by sequined temper tantrums. We each control how we personally think, feel and behave, and even that often requires a supreme effort.
Ultimately, then, the battle against homophobia begins and ends within the LGBTQ community itself and within each of us. Therein lies our part.