01/02/2012 10:10 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

The Problem with Homophobia

In this country, homophobia runs rampant. We are constantly hearing stories of bullied teens committing suicide because they are ashamed to exist in a world where they feel they will never be accepted because they are gay. In the old days, people, both gay men and women, were forced to marry into heterosexual relationships in order to maintain some sort socially acceptable façade. Even today, although major progress has been made when it comes to acceptance of LGBT people, there are still plenty hiding from their true identities. Where there are people lying to themselves about who they are, there are unsuspecting victims who will likely be part of the wreckage left in their trail.

Over the last few years I have dated two closeted gay men, without realizing it at first. One of them kept making plans to go to the movies with his friend instead of me, whereas the other was awkward in every possible interaction with me, shaking when he went in for the kiss and then slowly backing away from any physical contact with me at all.

When they stopped dating me, I was really upset. I spent weeks trying to figure out what was wrong with me, what I could've done differently. But it wasn't me. I started to realize that the signs were all there and finally received information from other people who confirmed it. I had been used briefly to cover up their homosexuality.

The problem with homophobia is not limited to the LGBT people who experience hate speech and violence. Other people get hurt, too, like the people being used by gay people who are ashamed of their identity. If it weren't for the hate in this country and the bias against homosexual people, perhaps people wouldn't have a need to stay closeted in the first place.

I was used by a few men who were trying to cover it up, and I have been the target of several other gay men who were in the closet. I wondered why I of all people had been singled out for this purpose. Was it the same reason that a large percentage of gay men are drawn to women like Cher, Judy Garland, and Dolly Parton? My ego wanted to think so, but I settled on something else: I was outwardly very feminine-looking. I would wager that a closeted gay male who wanted to cover it up would pick the girliest-looking girl to deter outsiders from thinking he was gay.

LGBT people are not the only people guilty of this behavior. A gay relative of mine recently fell in love and had a relationship with a person of the same sex. Right after they broke up, this lover, who claimed to be gay, suddenly entered into a very serious relationship with a member of the opposite sex. My family member still is crushed.

While a lot of this can be attributed to social intolerance and the nonacceptance of homosexuality, a lot of it can be attributed to plain old selfishness. After being the target of these men, I felt used. I felt as if they hadn't even considered my feelings because they hadn't even thought of me as a person, just a mannequin to serve in the window dressing of their façade. They were so preoccupied with their own issues, so caught up in their own head, that they never had the time to stop and think about who they might be hurting in the meantime.

Yes, they were selfish jerks, but the homophobia going on in this country certainly didn't help. I am proud of those among my friends and family who are brave enough to stand out there as openly gay individuals and be themselves. It is not always safe for them and sometimes dangerous because of bias, hate crimes, and ignorance. We even have people like Michele Bachmann running for president while openly stating that there is something wrong with gay people, that it is amoral, and that it is something that can be corrected through some type of anti-gay Christian program. Aside from that concept being extremely odd, it is extremely wrong. Many people look up to Michele Bachmann and view her as a strong and even admirable, courageous role model. No doubt many of her supporters have been swayed to believe that homosexuality is indeed very wrong. I do not think these people are bad people, just very impressionable.

Think about it. If Michele Bachmann suddenly changed her stance on homosexuality and decided that it was OK and acceptable in her book, though some of her supporters might still disagree, I'm pretty sure a higher percentage of them would be open-minded and think, "Well, if she says they're OK, then maybe they are OK." People like Michele Bachmann either a) don't realize the influence they have over others and wield their hateful, anti-gay ideologies ignorant of the negative impact and trouble it will create, or b) do it on purpose, knowingly doing harm and creating segregation and hate to fuel their own selfish, secret agendas.

Looking at a photograph of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the political poster child for homophobia, I have to say she looks like a reasonable woman. She doesn't seem to have a bad vibe and might actually be a nice lady. There is no doubt in my mind that one day she will realize how prejudiced her words have been and apologize.

According to one of the therapists at the Bachmann & Associates clinic, which specializes in conversion therapy, "[t]he psychoanalytic perspective has always considered homosexuality and same-sex attraction to be a neurosis" -- that is, homosexuality is a mental disorder, a disease. Well, Ms. Bachmann, your husband's employee certainly has a provocative perspective on gayness. Experts, however, will concur that homosexuality is in fact not a disease. Hatred... well, that's another story.

Read more by this author at Hayley's Comments.