ERIC Number: ED194939
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Nov
Reference Count: 0
The Pathogenic Secret: A Response to Discrimination.
Ehrlich, Larry G.
The struggle for a positive self-image in the gay community has been keynoted by confrontations between gays and the censuring public, and by their own introspection. Since the risks demanded by self disclosure are greater for gays than for heterosexuals, a nonsupportive environment may force a strategy of nondisclosure on gays. This often develops into a "pathogenic secret"--information intentionally withheld that induces a state of physical and psychological dysfunction. The factor most responsible for reinforcing the pathogenic secret in gays is the manifestation of "homophobia," extreme fear or hatred of gays. Public violence and law enforcement acts against gays as well as more subtle discrimination, by rumor or in the job market, point out the extent of homophobia. The institutions to which gays might turn to temper discrimination are the bastions of this homophobia: church, family, peers, and education institutions. Ironically, antigay attitudes spring from the irrational fear of assault on male privilege, a symptom of the repressive norms and traditional family mold that heterosexual society has placed upon itself. (HTH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (66th, New York, NY, November 13-16, 1980).