Video: Making homophobia a four-letter word

(Edmonton) In 1972, the late George Carlin joked about seven words that could not be said on television. These words have become frowned upon in public use as much as in the media. But a new public service announcement from the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) reminds us that people are still using unacceptable homophobic language without any thought to the discriminatory connotations behind these words.

The “No Homophobes” PSA was unveiled on Global Television in late December. The ad features actors portraying young people upset at others in their lives. Their lines are littered with bleeps, except when one female expresses her feelings about her ex-boyfriend, using hurtful language clearly meant to devalue him as a person and call his masculinity into question.

This type of casual homophobia is part of the negative behaviour and attitudes iSMSS is hoping to change with the campaign, an adjunct to the Nohomophobes.com website launched last fall.

Kristopher Wells, associate director of iSMSS, says these words are far from benign, and their repeated use has the power to adversely affect people who are being discriminated against and marginalized.

“Casual homophobia serves to reinforce damaging stereotypes and is one of the last socially acceptable forms of discrimination in our society, which leads to isolation, bullying, violence and, in many tragic cases, youth suicide,” he said. “We encourage people to break the silence that surrounds the use of casual homophobia in our society and to speak out against it when it is safe to do so.

“Our very silence makes us complicit in the act of discrimination. Ultimately, we want people to think before they speak, text, post or tweet.”

The PSA was produced with support from Calder Bateman Communications and Global Television.

Related links

Innovative website tracks homophobia on Twitter

No Homophobes 2.0 (Edmonton Journal)