The psychotherapist who first came up with the word ‘homophobia’ has passed away aged 86, according to the New York Times.
In the mid-1960s, Dr George Weinberg observed how uncomfortable some of his colleagues were when he announced he was bringing a woman who was a lesbian to a party.
When his colleagues asked him to un-invite her to the gathering, Weinberg sensed that their reaction was not just born out of dislike, but fear.
“I coined the word homophobia to mean it was a phobia about homosexuals,” Dr. Weinberg told Gregory M. Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, in 1998.
“It was a fear of homosexuals which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for — home and family. It was a religious fear, and it had led to great brutality, as fear always does.”
Weinberg earned degrees in English literature, mathematics, and clinical psychology and authored the best selling book, ‘Society and the Healthy Homosexual’.
He was a lifelong advocate for LGBT+ rights, and wrote in the Huffington Post about how important the word ‘homophobia’ has been for the gay community.
“The word conveyed that gay people were not the ones suffering from an emotional problem; their oppressors were.
“Gay individuals saw that there was no longer any reason to condemn themselves or other people like themselves.
"For gay people everywhere, the term “homophobia” became a reminder of their personal worth.
"Understanding that homophobia is at work in their tormentors gave gay people a new sense of dignity and humanity.
"Indeed, it has helped many non-gay people understand that when they have homophobic feelings, they themselves have a problem."