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.

Basic terminology

Ally - Someone who advocates for and supports members of a community other than their own. Reaching across differences to achieve mutual goals.

Bisexual - aka bi; A person who is attracted to two sexes or two genders, but not necessarily simultaneously or equally.

Discrimination - The act of showing partiality or prejudice; a prejudicial act.

FTM and MTF - are abbreviations used by many female-to-male transgender persons (also known as
transmen) and male-to-female transgender persons (also known as transwomen). You’ll often hear transgender people referring to themselves as MTF or FTM, so if you know these terms, you’ll sound much more knowledgeable about their issues. Remember, the first letter is the gender assigned to someone at birth, the “T” stands for “to,” and the last letter is how the person identifies now. So, MTF refers to someone who is male-to-female. (*For Definition on Transgendered- please see below.)

Gay - Men attracted to men. Also used as an umbrella term to include all LGBTQA people.

Gender - refers to the societally determined characteristics of a particular sex; these characteristics are commonly referred to as “feminine” and “masculine”. Different societies have different ideas about what it means to be feminine or masculine and how people are expected to act.

Gender Identity - describes how people perceive their own internal sense of maleness or femaleness. Transgender people can be straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual—gender identity is separate from your sexual orientation.

Homophobia - The irrational fear and intolerance of people who are LGBTQA. This also assumes that heterosexuality is superior.

Homosexuality- sexual, emotional, and/or romantic attraction to the same sex.

Intersex - people have physical characteristics that do not match the typical understandings of male and female; previously called hermaphrodites. It is now considered offensive to use the term hermaphrodite, so it is more appropriate to call people intersex. Some intersex people identify as transgender while others do not. Some intersex conditions are known at the time of birth while others are not discovered until later in life, if it all; some intersex conditions are anatomical, while others are chromosomal. For more information, contact Advocates for Informed Choice (

In the closet- Keeping one's sexual orientation and/or gender or sex identity a secret.

LGBT - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender

LGBTQIA - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual/Ally

Lesbian - A woman attracted to women.

Queer - 1.) An umbrella term to refer to all LGBTQ people. 2.) A political statement, as well as sexual orientation, which advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid. 3.) A simple label to explain a complex set of sexual behaviors and desires.

Sex - refers to the designation of the biological differences between females and males. This is the scientific term for what makes males and females different; remember, though, that not everyone fits into these 2 categories. There are a number of different factors that determine sex, not just chromosomes.

Sexual Orientation - describes who people fall in love with and/or are sexually attracted to.

Transgender - is an umbrella term that refers to people who live differently than the gender presentation and roles expected of them
by society. There are many kinds of people who fit this term and the rest of the following term describe some of them.

Positive Levels of Attitude Support

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


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