There are two common ways in which homophobia gets masked, and both of them piss me the hell off. One of them has been in the news, because Mayor Jim Naugle of sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida has been under fire for proposing that Fort Lauderdale install porta-potties on its beaches to "deter homosexual activities." Now even a conservative FL retiree can tell that's a strawman, and that not too many fags are getting it on in the public toilets of Fort Lauderdale beaches (perhaps Naugle was thinking of his Tampa neighbor, State Rep. Bob Allen—who is now crying, "I'm not gay, I'm racist!"), but that isn't even the issue anymore. In face of criticism, the honorable mayor stuck to his guns and kept firing new rounds, saying that he didn't like to use the word "gay" because homosexuals are such unhappy people, and calling a GLBT section of the public library pornographic. And then—this is the best part—he made fourth graders everywhere proud by issuing a fake apology, saying essentially "I'm sorry you all are so stupid you can't see that this is a problem."
What is Mayor Naugle's defense against people who claim his behavior may indicate some homophobia? "I have longtime friends in the homosexual community." Now granted, they're clearly deeply unhappy friends whose collective presence in a public bathroom represents a threat to children everywhere, and whose taste in literature is utter smut, but the guy has friends who are gay!
Thing number one: having gay friends doesn't mean you aren't homophobic. Wagner loved Mendelssohn, a jew, but he was still f*ckin anti-semitic. That a few individuals have jumped your homophobia hurdle in order to get to your friendship finish line doesn't mean the hurdle isn't there, and doesn't make that hurdle the fault of the other queers who keep tripping over it. Having gay friends doesn't even guarantee you are only a little homophobic, and using it as an excuse might hurt. Most people, even most queers, are a little bit homophobic, but they are aware of it and try to work against it. Not so for those who write off their homophobia—they think there's nothing to work against.
A close friend of mine just came out as queer to his girlfriend, who freaked out. She's not a queer-hater, apparently, except when it comes down to the guy she's sleeping with, and then she can't stop thinking about how uncomfortable it makes her that he hooked up with another guy once.
Thing number two: A NIMBY homophobe is still a homophobe. Saying otherwise is like saying "oh, I'm fine with black people, except when they're around me. Then I get really freaked out." If that happens, you're racist. If you don't mind empowered women, as long as all the women around you act subserviant, you're sexist. Similarly, if you don't mind homosexuals, as long as you get to pretend they're all straight, you're homophobic. And if you let go of a boy who loves you right now, just because he f*cked someone else back then, you're just dumb.
PS—while we're on the topic of sexuality, the superlative Savage LoveCast included a call this week that proposed people use "scrotum" as a synonym for "weakling," rather than "pussy." It's a great idea: the reasoning is that while pussies aren't actually all that weak—they give birth, for god's sake—scrotums are pretty fragile, and don't take pain very readily. Plus, they're kind of gross. I wouldn't want to be called a scrotum. And, despite the chip on my shoulder about the way we construct masculinity, I think using "scrotum" to mean "weakling" actually does a lot to queer the way masculinity is understood. It's not likely that we'll be seeing the ideal man portrayed as weak in the near future; the same is not true for women. So get working and stop being such a huge scrotum! Or, alternately, stop scroting out!