QUEER THEOR(I)ZING FROM A STRAIGHT GUY: I posted in a discussion of homophobia over at http://www.therightchristians.org and I'm so darn pleased with myself that I'm going to reprint it here.
I agree with rafalah that "for many christians homosexuality makes an easy target because it is a 'sin' that they personally don't struggle with. Any supressed guilt and shame that surrounds their own sexuality can be funneled outward to a "Thank God I'm Not Struggling with THAT sin" finger pointing. In other words, it is just too easy to condem something they don't feel."
Maybe it's just me, but I read a lot into the fact that liberals use the term "gay and lesbian" and conservatives most often use the term "homosexual."
Conservatives are focused on the plumbing: on the specific bedroom practices of gay men and women. The Latinate term keeps the focus on the sexual, and also puts people at a clinical distance about a topic that makes them feel squeamish.
In some cases, people are in denial or fear of their own feelings of same-sex attraction. But not across the board: even for many "confirmed" straights, sexuality is both a) intense and b) intimate, even secretive.
[EDIT: I perhaps should have included here a statement, or confession: while I like to think of myself as straight-but-not-narrow, I am still uptight or insecure enough to feel a momentary shock when I read or learn of somebody whose sexual preferences are a lot different than mine. Aren't most people capable of being shocked this way? The question is, do you control that feeling of shock, or do you indulge it and let it carry you away?]
Nobody has mentioned the "gay recruitment" phobia -- that gay parents / teachers / ministers are going to recruit children into the evil gay lifestyle. Conservatives don't want to allow marriage to be added to the gay "travel brochure" and add to the recruitment incentive. Two observations:
1. There's an irrational horror (for some people) of having a child or other family member adopt a style of sexual intimacy that is very different than one's own.
2. This is a kind of cowardice. Gay people who are open about their "minority" sexual status are by definition brave, and somewhat threatening to the large segment of people who are timid about sexual matters, who perhaps are unclear about their own sexual selves, who in particular hate the idea of talking about sex with their own children.
18 minutes ago