The word "phobe" does not only mean fear. The word "phobe" means something more akin to "does not like". A molecule that is hydrophobic does not like water, and thus does all that is physically possible to avoid it, as opposed to something that is hydrophilic. It is not afraid of water. Therefore, homophobe is as useful a word as any. If there were a better word, I'd go for it ("sexist" would work, but that refers to gender, not orientation).
Now, on to homosexuality. I have honestly been wanting to voice my incredibly positive opinions about this for a while. Ever since I found out in the Abortion thread how many people are not at all of the same viewpoint as me, which can therefore lead to fun and interesting (and hopefully inoffensie) debates.
To start: I am straight. But I have been doing my best to support gay rights since the end of high school. I was bullied as a kid (on and off, until early high school, dying down by grade 11), for being a geek, or awkward, but also "for being gay."
I am a firm believer in equal rights for all people, regardless of their gender, race, or orientation. Nobody should ever be discriminated against because of their orientation.
Regarding marriage: I think gays should be allowed to marry. That's one of the reasons I'm happy to live in Canada. That said, people may have a point if they argue that marriage is a religious rite that they don't want homosexual people to participate in. Therefore, I accept one (and only one) alternative: marriage be distinctly religious; only members of the clergy may marry; only members of those religions may get married; marriage brings absolutely no tax benefits to the couple; and a separate thing (we'll call it Civil Union) may also exist, that does offer all the tax and legal benefits, and is open to all people. That idea seems to be farfetched, and so I think the easier technique is just to legalize it everywhere.
Caedus_16 mentioned earlier his opposition to the idea that "everyone is bi, and some people just don't try it." I agree with his view; people can be any shade of straight/bi/gay, but it is not for others to judge. I don't like the idea of being a "Kinsey 4" or anything like that. I've been hit on by guys, and they back off when you say no, just like any respectful person should.
Caedus also mentioned not liking it when people, regardless of their orientation, talk to excess about their sexual exploits. I hear that. It isn't homophobia if someone is also uncomfortable with straight people discussing their sex lives. But I'd like to offer a quick explanation as to why it is sometimes a stereotype of gays talking non-stop about their sex lives. When people feel repressed about who they are for sooo long (call it, for 5 years?), and then suddenly are liberated by being Out, then they sometimes compensate for all those years in the closet by talking non-stop about their sexuality. It is usually a phase, and it passes. I had a lesbian friend in high school, and every single conversation fell back to "Oh yea, that reminds me of that time I was with a girl..." It was SOOOO irritating. But I think it's a phase, and a lot of the time it passes. A gentle "I'm not comfortable talking about sex, in general" is hopefully enough to stop any such discussions. It is also genuinely possible that the person just doesn't know about boundaries like that, because other friends they talk to don't have them. My best friend and I have talked at length, explicitly, about our sex lives. But I wouldn't talk about that to acquaintances.
And now to an important point: a lot of gay teenagers get bullied, either because their out, closeted, or are straight and just have the tendencies that make people think they're gay (like me.) A certain percentage of those teenagers commit suicide. That is terrible. Even if you're opposed to gays, one dead kid is one too many. Dan Savage, who is famous for his column and podcast Savage Love, started the It Gets Better project, where adults tell bullied kids that life doe not end at high school, and all the torment of bullying ends at graduation, etc. Adults pledge to do their best to stop bullying in all of its forms, including against LGBT kids. It's a very moving project, and I urge people to take its message to heart. http://www.itgetsbetter.org/
That is all, for now. I hope this discussion will lead to many fruitful debates, without offending anyone.
-Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars
"Who cares what evil lurks in the hearts of men!"
"Unless evil's carrying the Martini tray, darling."
-Frank and Sadie Doyle