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Negative attitudes towards homosexual people and homosexuality which may be manifested in discrimination, hostile behaviour, or hate crimes. The term was adopted in 1972 by George Weinberg (b.1935), an American psychologist. The use of ‘phobia’ has been criticized as implying a pathological and irrational fear rather than a form of prejudice analogous to racism. The term is sometimes reserved for more extreme forms reflecting hatred and revulsion, the term heterosexism being favoured in other cases. Homophobic attitudes have been associated with conservative ideologies and authoritarian personalities. Extreme homophobia is often attributed to unconscious homosexual desires but it can also be due to ignorance or function as a means of gaining approval from a reference group. Institutional homophobia is reflected in laws, policies, practices, and the history of invisibility of gay people in the mass media. One theory is that the social function of homophobia is to enforce rigid gender distinctions (see also heteronormativity). Internalized homophobia refers to gay and lesbian people themselves adopting negative attitudes about homosexuality from socialization into a homophobic culture, leading to denial or self-hatred because they feel that they cannot live up to dominant cultural gender expectations.

Subjects: Media studies

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