Op-Ed: Homophobia Should Have No Place in Politics

When former a union boss got mixed up in a fight last month, verbal threats devolved into physical confrontation. To make a bad matter worse, someone threw homophobic slurs into the mix.

It’s shocking enough to see high-profile people resort to violence, as reported by San Jose Inside in a series of articles about the clash between Assemblywoman Nora Campos’ husband, Neil Struthers, and Local 270 business manager Enrique Arguello.

The incident is convoluted already, fraught with dirty politics and bitter rivalries. Unfortunately, it also involved homophobic insults and salacious teasing about Arguello, who has a wife, and Omar Torres, an openly gay man.

To harass Arguello and Torres because they posed for a photo together is ludicrous. To resort to hateful slurs to incite a physical fight, however, is unconscionable and homophobic.

The incident shows how homophobia gets caught in the crossfire and used as a weapon in ongoing political battles.

First of all, homophobia has no place in this arena or any. Being LGBTQ, especially if a person is openly gay, is something to celebrate and honor—not to attack.

Secondly, political battles need to center on issues, not descend into fistfights, groundless accusations, homophobia or slurs of any kind. Homophobic speech doesn’t just kick the intended target “in the balls,” so to speak. It kicks the entire LGBTQ community. It hurts everyone.

Gabrielle Antolovich serves as president of the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center Board of Directors.

22 Comments

  1. Gee, I really would like to know who and where the statement was made. It is akin Jim Beall claiming he is targeted by big oil when he has been backed for ten years by oil, and in 2016, by gas station owners and polluters.

    • When Big OIl spends $400,000 against you, as they have with Sen. Beall, that means Big Oil is targeting you. What proof do you have that Senator Beall took anti-environmental stances? I’d wager you have none, because he always puts his constituents first. Which is more than what Nora Campos could ever say.

  2. Jack, this article isn’t about Jim Beall.

    It’s about some kind of mythical “homophobia”. That canard implies that the public is afraid of gays. But that’s simply not true.

    I think most folks would be happy if gays just kept their personal business to themselves. I understand that it’s only a tiny minority who shove their lifestyle in the public’s face. But it’s like the Islamists: if the rank-and-file don’t put the flaming radicals in their place, then they shouldn’t complain when there’s push-back.

    Now, Islamists are a group I’d be afraid of. So ‘Islamophobia’ makes sense.

    But ‘homophobia’? Nope. Doesn’t make sense.

    • well, whatever emotion it is that makes you flagrantly demand us to keep our “personal business” to ourselves, Smokey,

      (even tho straight folks constantly drag our “business” out of us. that is, if they dont just ignorantly assume we, too, are straight),

      those types of emotions are what i assume “homophobia” is referring to here, my bud. language is fluid and evolves. -phobia doesnt necessarily just mean “fear”, it can also mean hate, prejudice, …

      tho maybe you should be afraid of us! we have something in common with Muslims you see, being unnecessarily hated on by folks like you thru the internet, and all.

      • Your reply – despite being a mere handful of sentences – is so full of fallacy and specious logic that it boggles the mind. Firstly, personal business is precisely that, regardless of gender or orientation. I’m friends with a lot of different people from all kinds of walks of life, including people in the LGBTQ community. I’ve never dragged ‘our business’ out of anyone from any walk of life. And, people make ‘assumptions’ all the time about all kinds of things. Despite the fact that there are those in the LGBTQ community who are extremely vocal about their lifestyles, sheer volume does not equate to percentages. Even adding a comfortable margin for those who are ‘closeted’, they still represent a very small minority of the populace. Making an assumption that a person is straight has vastly more to do with playing the odds and percentages than anything else.

        And, despite your assertion that language is ‘fluid and evovles’, words have meaning. The word ‘phobia’ derives from the Greek word ‘phobo’ which literally translates to ‘fear’. ‘Phobia’ has exactly ONE meaning: fear. And, while there are many people who disagree with LGBTQ lifestyles and socio-political agendas, I think it’s always been a stretch to equate those disagreements with fear. It is also specious to unilaterally equate that disagreement with ‘hate’ or ‘prejudice’.

        Lastly, the LGBTQ has very little in common with the Muslim community and for many reasons, not least among them that there are an awful lot of Muslims out there in the world who would gleefully torture and kill any LGBTQ person they happened to come across and justify that by quoting various passages from the Koran. And, as for Muslims being unnecessarily hated? Well, that’s a lot more complicated. Consider the aforementioned large numbers of Muslims who’d gleefully kill any and all members of the LGBTQ community they encounter. Consider also that Muslims are the most prolific traffickers of sex slaves, child brides, terrorism, etc. etc. ad nauseum and have been since the inception of Islam. I’d say there are an awful lot of legitimate reasons to fear Muslims, especially since it’s so hard to discern those who reject those activities from those who enthusiastically practice them.

      • MEOW says:

        “-phobia doesnt necessarily just mean “fear”, it can also mean hate, prejudice, …”

        Wrong; “phobia” specifically means “fear”. You could look it up, after you get over your pointless defensiveness. I wasn’t attacking you, I was simply pointing out how the general public reacts. Most of us are fed up with the endless grievances of ‘minorities’, no matter what flavor they are.

        Speaking for myself, I’m exhausted by the incessant complaints by every aggreived minority group. We all have our problems, and yours are no more important than anyone else’s. What, you think everyone else if fat and happy? Your problems aren’t half as bad as you pretend.

        And no one is persecuting you! In most cases we wouldn’t even know or care, if you didn’t turn it into a constant big, whiny complaint.

        Finally, a lot of you folks seem to be aligning with the Islamists, trying to make common cause with that ‘minority’. Big mistake. Do I really need to explain why?

  3. Bigotry, bullying, fanaticism, any “phobia” used as an excuse to attack a person or group of people has NO place in a society that claims to be of higher emotional and intellectual intelligence than the average garden slug.

  4. Several claimed to hear Struthers’ racist and homophobic slurs at the Fairmont. There seems to be no dispute on that aspect.

    But Nora Campos, not her husband, is running for office. Campos has not condemned her husband’s conduct, but attempted to divert focus elsewhere. It says volumes about her distorted values. That Campos plays the hispanic card and has a gay relative further highlights the absence of empathy and a damaged moral compass.

    ‘openly gay, is something to celebrate and honor’. Why? What merits recognition for a genetic result?

    I suspect Omar Torres would prefer to be honored for helping hundreds of families while working at Santa Maria Urban Ministries. I had the privilege of seeing his diligent impact at SMUM and meeting him. His sexual orientation never surfaced, nor a factor in anything I observed.

    Like most LGBT persons, doubtful he’ll be prancing along Market St clad in a sequined jockstrap demanding to be celebrated and honored.

    • “SEVERAL” means who? Several people heard Arguello make comments about Asian Americans and women. Yep it was confirmed by several others.

  5. At the risk of being accused of psychophobia, I have to say, the author of this op-ed demonstrates a breathtaking level of derangement.

    — “Too make matters worse, someone threw homophobic slurs into the mix.”
    If one heterosexual male calling another a fag constitutes homophobia (extreme/irrational fear/dislike of homosexuals), then we have to assume that had the insult instead been “jackass” it would’ve constituted speciesism and outraged a spokesperson for PETA — a different collection of lunatics. Ms. Antolovich is either ignorant of male behavior and assumes an insult hurled in anger is deserving of great sociological weight — no matter how obvious its intention (in this case, to provoke a fistfight), or intellectually crippled by her identity-based politics. A man, especially when intoxicated, intent on physically settling a grudge typically acts with no more sophistication than a mad dog, and the words he uses, if intelligible, are the human equivalent of growling and barking.

    — “Unfortunately, it also involved homophobic insults about Arguello, who has a wife, and Omar Torres, an openly gay man.”
    I’m surprised, given today’s perverted use of marital terminology, the author apparently expects her readers to equate “wife” with woman, as well as make assumptions regarding the sexual preferences of a married man. I thought it was homophobic to make such assumptions? It appears even the militant word twisters are confused.

    — “to resort to hateful slurs…”
    Gay men are known to call or refer to each other as queens, fags, bitches, etc. — do they commit hateful slurs when they do so, or is their “community” claiming the same entitlement and immunity that blacks do with their favorite slang word? Besides, in my experiences, far more hate has been attached to such slurs by politicized homosexuals than was ever attached to or intended by those hurling them.

    — “Being LGBTQ, especially if a person is openly gay, is something to celebrate and honor—not to attack.”
    Nice try, but that opinion is not necessarily shared by others, and as long as people hold negative views about a particular physical or behavioral trait that trait will be treated to insults, jokes, and generalizations — largely in private. And while we’re on the subject of attack, let’s not pretend that homosexuals don’t hold just as many prejudices as do heterosexuals, and are just as prone to insult, joke, and generalize about them — largely in private.

    — “Homophobic speech doesn’t just kick the intended target “in the balls,” so to speak. It kicks the entire LGBTQ community. It hurts everyone.”
    And so the solution is to kick back, by lumping together (as homophobes) and targeting for retribution everyone and anyone — law-abiding or not, who gets in the way of the political agenda. Does it bother the “community” that a great many people are offended to be branded as homophobes simply because they don’t jump through every bizarro hoop the “community” holds up? Now the “community” demands the right to teach America’s children according to its often irrational beliefs. In its quest to prove itself just like everyone else, all the “community” has proved is that it can’t be trusted.

    • yeah you’re right. we should pipe down about our civil rights when angry drunk male politicians are trying to start egoistic fights.

      ////sarcasm

      • That is right when guys like Arguello get drunk and kick people it should be,dealt with

      • To exactly which civil rights do you refer? Free speech? Last time I checked, that’s protected regardless of whether or not some – or many – consider it to be offensive.

        Please, enlighten us with your obvious mastery of the Constitution and those rights which the Founders and the Framers of the Constitution identified as those granted to all mankind as, variously ‘God’s Law’ or ‘Natural Law’.

  6. Frustrated, well stated.

    What’s not generally recognized is that the LGBT “community” has been dramatically shrinking. Public accommodation, employment, marriage, adoption, military service, etc. issues have been resolved. Some social stigma will always exist, but LGBT stigma is probably about the same or lower than other groups. I recall one study that claimed the French are significantly more despised than LGBTs.

    We LGBTs no longer feel it necessary to maintain herd protection. Most of my male and female friends are straight. Twenty years ago, just a few.

    The net effect is that LGBTs no longer feel relegated to gay ghettos like San Francisco’s Castro district or New York’s Greenwich Village. Many have departed and straight couples with children are now commonplace in the Castro. Social acceptance has taken a toll on entities like San Jose’s De Frank center. Membership and attendance has taken a major hit after apartheid ceased to be a factor. Were it not for the $1.00 per year lease from City of San Jose, it would have closed quite some time ago. Ditto for gay rights groups. Like De Frank, they struggle to remain relevant.

    My sense is that Antolovich’s article is motivated by an attempt to reverse De Frank’s declining relevancy – not imagined homophobia.

  7. Meow,

    Exactly how were your civil rights endangered? And what’s the offender’s gender got to do with it? Would it have been okay if the offender had been female?

    You may think yourself wise and sarcastic, but you’re just another lightweight waving another self-absorbed banner.

  8. > Gabrielle Antolovich serves as president of the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center Board of Directors.

    So, Gabrielle:

    Has Billy DeFrank Community Center worked though its funding issues?

    Whatever happened to the one time executive director who posted on SJI? Tax filings showed that her total compensation was $225 K or so. She seems to have been “disappeared”.

    How much public money does BDCC receive?

    What is the “total compensation” for each of BDCC’s top five officers or executives?

    • Google shows
      http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/942/942850498/942850498_201506_990.pdf

      Antolovich & key executives received zero compensation per the IRS 990. Zero employees. Budget significantly dwindled since ouster of previous executive director in 2009 per press coverage: $650K to $121K ( & $3K loss).

      Financial disclosure shows membership revenue ($4.8K) inadequate to cover expenses plus losses running HIV testing and senior meal programs. Bingo and facility rent compensate for losses per financials. Free HIV testing and senior meals offered elsewhere – no compelling need or unique service. Organization looks to be on life support.

  9. Perhaps Neil Struthers made his anti-gay accusation out of frustration that he himself is indeed gay and has yet to admit to his true calling. No medical report was taken or submitted to authorities when he was allegedly ” kicked in the balls” hence one would assume there were a lack of balls to be indeed kicked.