This week, the AIDS Committee of Guelph launched a very cool app, Halt HIV and Homophobia. The app combines information about HIV risk considerations for specific activities around sex and drug use, and witty comebacks to homophobic remarks. You can also take a homophobia quiz and assess your level of homophobia, and get perspective on some of the day-to-day things that are homophobic, whether or not you do them.
Rather than getting into a “sticks and stones may break my bones” type exchange, the app offers witty and on point retorts to common homophobic slurs. These retorts include responses like the one below:
This comeback rightly challenges the person who made the remark in the first place, noting that they in fact are living with homophobia – something that can and should be treated.
This app does some unique things: namely, providing support to people who experience homophobia while also turning the conversation towards how to address the people who are perpetuating it. As Jeffrey Aguinaldo argues, it is insufficient to only support gay men after they experience homophobia and it is necessary to intervene to interrupt homophobia before and as it is happening. He argues for the use of the term heterosexism instead of homophobia, because heterosexism draws attention to all the every day ways our world normalizes and allows homophobic attitudes. These types of comments are absolutely homophobic. But, by placing them in the context of a heterosexist world, and treating societal norms and practices (teaching (predominantly) heterosexually-oriented sex education classes, for one) as the problem, there are a lot more opportunities to prevent these comments to begin with.
Kudos to AIDS Committee of Guelph, and be sure to check out the app!
For more on the nuances of the terms heterosexism and homophobia, click on over to the Community-Based Research Centre’s website where I also blog on topics relating to gay men’s health.