Stages of Acceptance

In the clinical sense, homophobia is defined as an intense, irrational fear of same sex relationships that becomes overwhelming to the person. In common usage, homophobia is the fear of homosexuals or homosexuality. This file describes 4 levels of homophobia and 4 levels of positive attitudes toward gay relationships and people. It was developed by Dr. Dorothy Riddle, a psychologist from Tucson, AZ.


Homosexuality is seen as a “crime against nature.” Gays are sick, crazy, immoral, sinful, wicked, etc. and any measure to change them (e.g., prison, hospitalization, negative behavior therapy including electric shock) is justified.


Heterosexual chauvinism. Heterosexuality is more mature and certainly to be preferred. Any possibility of becoming straight should be reinforced and those who seem to be born “that way” should be pitied, “the poor dears.”


Homosexuality is just a phase of adolescent development that many people go through and most people outgrow. Thus, gays are less mature than straights and should be treated with the protectiveness and indulgence one uses with a child. Gays and lesbians should not be given positions of authority because they are still working through adolescent behavior.


Still implies there is something to accept, characterized by such statements as “You’re not gay to me, you’re a person.” or “What you do in bed is your own business.” or “That’s fine as long as you don’t flaunt it.” This denies social and legal realities. It also ignores the pain of invisibility and stress of closet behavior. “Flaunt” usually means say or do nothing that makes people aware.

Positive Levels of Attitude


Basic ACLU approach. Work to safeguard the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals. Such people may be uncomfortable themselves, but they are aware of the climate and the irrational unfairness.


Acknowledges that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (lgbt) in our society takes strength. Such people are willing to truly look at themselves and work on their own homophobic attitudes.


Values the diversity of people and sees lgbt people as a valid part of that diversity. These people are willing to combat homophobia in themselves and in others.


Assumes that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are indispensable in our society. They view lgbt people with genuine affection and delight and are willing to be lgbt advocates.