Homonegativity Affects Everyone

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What is Homonegativity, Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphpobia? 

Homonegativity is negative behaviours, attitudes, or expressions towards queer people.

Homophobia is an irrational fear that is directed towards gay men, lesbians, and those who are perceived as being gay or lesbian. Homophobia has also come to include a collection of beliefs that being gay or lesbian is unnatural and abnormal and that this justifies discrimination and/or acts of hate and violence towards gay men, lesbians, and those perceived to be gay or lesbian.

In recent years a shift in terminology has begun where some people and academic institutions have opted to adopt the use of homonegativity over homophobia.  This shift has occurred for a variety of reasons and it is really up to you which term you choose and whether or not you include both of them in your regular vocabulary.

Transphobia is a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards transsexual or transgender people based on the expression of their internal gender identity.

Biphobia is a term used to describe aversion felt toward bisexuality and bisexuals as a social group or as individuals. People of any sexual orientation are capable of feeling and expressing such aversion.

For the sake of brevity we have opted to use homonegativity for the rest of the pamphlet to represent homonegativity, homophobia, transphobia, & biphpobia

Homonegativity can be divided into four distinct forms:

Personal or Internalized Homonegativity this is a form that is often found in gender & sexually diverse (GSD) people or people who are questioning their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. It prevents the person(s) experiencing it from fully developing and realizing their potential and can lead to various forms of mental and physical illness, substance abuse, and even suicide.

It is not uncommon for a person suffering from internalized homonegativity to turn that feeling outward.  They believe that by attacking GSD people or those perceived to be GSD they can prove they are not GSD.

Interpersonal Homonegativity is when a person acts on their homophobic beliefs with verbal and/or physical abuse, intimidation, or by discriminating against a GSD person or someone they believe to be GSD.

Institutional Homonegativity is when groups, organizations, businesses, and government agencies have active policies or laws that exclude or limit the rights or access of GSD individuals. Often these policies are unwritten and are based on the attitudes and actions towards GSD people by senior staff and/or management.

Cultural Homonegativity is when social standards and customs perpetuate or give preferred treatment to heterosexuals (marriage, for example). It also supports the belief that heterosexuals are morally superior to GSD people.


Homonegativity produces the following effects:

  • It prevents people from actively participating in the lives of their GSD family members or friends.
  • It can make you change your behaviour so that you are not perceived as being GSD by others.
  • It can isolate you from openly GSD family members or friends so that you won’t be labeled as being GSD.
  • It prevents you from having full, well-rounded, and deep friendships with members of the same sex and/or gender.
  • It assigns set roles for each gender, preventing you from exploring careers or hobbies that interest you but are associated with a different sex and/or gender.
  • It can make you feel like a coward when others say or do hateful things to or about GSD people and you do nothing or say nothing out of fear.
  • It can make a GSD person get married to someone of opposite different sex and/or gender and have children in order to hide their orientation.
  • It can adversely affect your home life when a family member who is GSD or perceived to be GSD is physically attacked, emotionally abused, or driven out of the home by another family member. 


Heterosexism (or Invisible Homonegativity) is the assumption that everyone you know or hang-out with is heterosexual. It is very common and is more often than not completely unintentional. When you ask if a man has a girlfriend or wife or when you ask a woman what her husband does for a living, you are making an assumption about their sexual orientation.

Cisnormativity is the assumption that everyone you come into contact with is cisgender (cisgender refers to individuals who experience alignment between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity). Cisnormative assumptions mean that we don’t have to worry about being respectful or provide positive environments for trans* people. Cisnormativity also refers to discrimination or prejudice against trans* people on the assumption that cisgender is the norm. 

Even though an individual is not homophobic, they might be heterosexist and/or cisnormative. Do not panic; instead, be aware. It is easy to make assumptions about gender identity and sexual orientation. Heterosexuality and being cisgender are the most common sexual orientation and gender identity, just not a universal one. The key is not to assume that everyone around you is heterosexual and cisgender. Make a real effort, it will be appreciated.


Like most forms of prejudice, homonegativity is based on false stereotypes and misinformation. Stereotypes spread by homonegativity make it difficult to develop relationships with or fact-based opinions and attitudes about GSD people.

Luckily, and also like any other kind of prejudice, education and real information that is widely shared can and is effective in fighting homonegativity. Learn as much as you can. Ask questions of your family members or friends who are openly GSD. Contact GSD-lines, GSD community agencies or search on the internet for GSD positive sites. They can all help you understand more and better.

Discriminating against one group makes it easier to discriminate against another. Where does it stop? Canada has learned that discrimination against women, non-English speaking minorities, the young, the old, different races, religions, or nationalities is wrong and socially irresponsible. Being GSD is no different than any of these.  Eliminate one group and the whole is weakened.

By working against all forms of prejudice including homonegativity, homophobia, transphobia, & biphobia a more just and free society is created. In a free and tolerant society everyone benefits.

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