This paper explores the meaning of ‘homophobia’ from a phenomenological, interpretative and social constructivist perspective. We postulate that homophobia is a useful repository for understanding experiences of prejudice and trauma expressed in 34 qualitative interviews with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clients of counselling and (heterosexual) counsellors. Homophobia can be further explained by examining mechanisms of social isolation – the ways that people deploy homophobic behaviours and thus, how minority people experience homophobia as isolating and alienating in everyday family life. Experiences of homophobia and the fear of homophobia appear to be extremely powerful, formative, and often traumatic, with long term implications for individuals’ adjustment and/or family functioning. The importance of a supportive therapeutic relationship is highlighted.
Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Health / Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.31-51