Declining Homophobia?

While McCormack’s main premise is that there is a decline in homophobia, I would clarify that it has only declined in specific areas due to their nature, be they be large cities with a strong progressive element such as San Francisco or New York or specific schools that he analysed first hand. However, and unfortunately, it will take more than this to minimize homophobia in the same way that racism will be eliminated, defined by those who are subject to it, not by those that only look at it from outside, in my lifetime.

I do believe that it is impossible for McCormack or anyone else to be completely objective and unbiased in any circumstance.  But, I also believe that there has been a decline in homophobia in certain areas as stated above.  According to an article in, there is a declining homophobia among professional athletes, here in the United States and the UK (Mayeda 2012: Declining Homophobia Among Male Athletes).  Mayeda cites one such athlete who argues that marriage equality will allow individuals who are gay to have full rights as any other US citizen “with the freedom to pursue happiness . . . .”

McCormack explains that the intellectual justification of homophobia (McCormack 2012: 72) will be used by those influenced by the pervading homohysteria, but he does not explain exactly how this has transformed into the intellectual acceptance of homosexuality that has taken place, and he does not define this acceptance to the extent that he has defined the -hysteria and -phobia.  He only gives several examples of acceptance and additional homosocial touching as examples of acceptance.  This does not necessarily weaken the argument but it does leave some questions of definition unanswered.

While it may or may not have seemed to McCormack that these incidents (ironic recuperation) (McCormack 2012:  92) throughout his study were isolated within these schools or more prevalent, I would question that there may not be enough data throughout the UK to support such general optimistic conclusions.  While sexism may not seem as prevalent as it once was, what may seem a present reality may be the prevalence of politically correct norms and laws that force such attitudes to an underground area that is not discussed.  This leaves such attitudes defined one way by one group for convenient denial and a painful, factual reality for the other.  Additionally, McCormack’s chapter on high school “Popularity Without Oppression” seems fantastical at best, given most common high school experiences and the high school popularity stereotypes that have been transformed into endlessly portrayed stereotypical Hollywood popular films since before Heathers.

His chapter discussion of Homosexually Themed Language is also problematic and surprising given his sexual orientation as a homosexual.  He goes into detail of how a homophobic societal group may adapt certain slang words and vocabulary though the latest users of such prejudiced language may have no idea what it means or their intent is innocuous. This is nothing more and nothing less than making excuses for behavior and language in much the same way that a racist individual will use racist-themed language and then back track and plead that they did not mean it the way that it was received.  Racism is racism and prejudice is prejudice.  I cannot excuse it, and when it appears, it must be corrected but not excused or dismissed under any circumstances.

McCormack details several studies where results indicate that there is a decrease in homophobia over the last few years among men 18 to 49.  He even discusses the phenomenon of conservative versus liberal regions in England that are similar to conservative and liberal states in the United States.  While he discusses this little in the book, he does devote some space in the last chapter to the differences in attitudes that vary by region and by specific city, which I mentioned at the beginning.  This conclusion of his seems a little more based in reality along with his conclusion that as far as we have come to be open and accepting of those that are different, we still have a long way to go and there are still problems (McCormack 2012: 130).

Mayeda, D. (17 October 2012). Declining Homophobia Among Male Athletes – David Mayeda. Sociology In Focus. Retrieved from

McCormack, M. (2012). The Declining Significance of Homophobia: How Teenage Boys Are Redefining Masculinity and Heterosexuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA.