It might be stated that the often erroneous dichotomizing of sexual and gender categories, once experienced as not really being part of one’s self, frequently results in the need, the intense desire, to persecute that now recognized part of one’s self that often becomes projected upon the person (or group of people) that has called attention to the unconscious, unwanted, homosexual and/or transphobic feelings aroused by the very existence of that other person. It is felt that that person, and what he/she represents has to be destroyed, for in destroying that other person, the self-identified “heterosexual” victimizer is seeking to destroy that unwanted homosexual part of himself.
As my good friend, Don Charles, wrote on his blog, “Christ, The Gay Martyr,” regarding machismo as being a taken-for-granted fact of life that underlies much of homophobia and transphobia:
In a culture dominated by Machismo, there is no room for persons of blended gender! We undermine the gender fascism that Machismo preaches. We contradict the world view that demands dominant men and subservient women. We will always be perceived as a threat to the concept of ‘pure’ masculinity; our sexual orientation alone guarantees that. As I’ve stated before, all it takes to qualify as a gender outlaw is to be a man-loving-man or a woman-loving-woman.
Gay people and people of blended gender threaten the man-made construction, the fiction, of sexual and gender polarities as being “normal,” as being “the way things are meant to be.” Hence, the homophobic and transphobic rhetoric emanating from the pulpits in most of the institutional Church, justifying such unchristian rhetoric and discrimination in the names of “the Bible,” “morality,” “tradition,” “family values,” “for the good of the children,” etc.
And, often to help “sanitize” the rhetorical victimizing of Gay and transgender people by many professing “Christians” is to appeal to the Bible and to God, as irrational as are those “justifications” to those who have even a scintilla of spiritual sense!
For the homophobic and transphobic, any person, group, or event that brings to consciousness the realization of a threat to his avowed sexuality (particularly male heterosexuality) results in a profound threat to those whose very unconscious lives put the lie to “the normality” of sexual and gender polarity; the fiction of the homophobe’s “avowed heterosexuality” which, as a defense, he has selected as the core part of his avowed identity.
Hence, his felt need to suppress his sexual feelings by projecting his anger onto any person or group that exhibits any attributes that bring to his consciousness, or even highlight, his repressed sexual feelings.
And when that core part of his identity is in any way threatened by bringing to his consciousness the reality of his actual sexuality and/or gender status, he feels the need to engage in Reaction Formation (to vociferously deny what he consciously or unconsciously fears within him/herself) by victimizing “the other” whom he has spent a lifetime trying to hide and avoid within himself.
Hence, homophobia and transphobia often results in the murder of that “other” that, in reality, is unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) experienced as the desperately unwanted and resented part of the perpetrator’s self.
So, the victimizer or murderer is in a very real sense futilely seeking to murder that very part of himself that he terribly despises, and that he has projected upon that very person or group that has brought to his consciousness the reality that he can’t bring himself to acknowledge, even to himself.
So, the terrible irony of much of the dynamics of homophobia and transphobia is that many of those who are most phobic regarding sexuality and gender performance are very likely to be those who are most threatened by those very features that they, themselves, resentfully (and often unconsciously) possess!
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. He also published a blog called A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights and the website Radical Christianity.