The Good Homophobe
It’s usually subtle and easily missed if you’re not on your guard. In my experience it happens when a person sees some mercenary value in building a connection with you. For me, it was mostly when I was an up-and-coming actor and I’d get cast in a prominent show. But it's become more prevalent as I've spent more time in corporate America, or perhaps I'm just more aware of what has always been right in front of my nose.
Actors in a show I was doing, would cultivate a cordial connection, and in a few cases actual friendships. In one or two very notable examples, I was actively and aggressively pursued. I was dumb enough to actually believe it was out of a genuine connection.
And then, those people would find a reason to move on. With actors it was almost always because they themselves landed a good role, or found greener pastures (read, better connections) and that’s when the mask would slip:
The core belief that they were, in fact superior by fact of sexuality.
Candy-coated homophobia is bitter.
Although it was usually more painful, I appreciated people who just simply ghosted me. The real evil was in people who slowly backed away. The red flag was that I was the "gay" friend. Until I wasn't.
Ask anyone who is an “other.” They will tell you that invariably – no matter how hard someone tries to hide their prejudices – there are always telltale signs. When I was much younger, I took responsibility for those signs. I was too sensitive. I had low self-esteem, so obviously I’m going to feel challenged by people I felt were ‘better’ than I was. I would either ignore or justify the red flags.
And then the house would fall on me.
As time went on, I became better about seeing the red flags, but also more sophisticated in rationalization. Sure, they were homophobic, but I could overlook it. My sexuality doesn’t have anything to do with the connection. “We just work together.” “They’ll see I’m one of the good ones.”
It was all toxic bullshit.
Now, I don’t spend time trying to analyze why a person makes feel uncomfortable. It’s enough that they do. I have absolutely NO time for rationalizing nor gaslighting.
Here’s the ugly truth: there are no good people who are also homophobes. I don’t care how broadly you smile to my face. One may smile and smile and be a villain.