Surviving Homophobia: Overcoming Evil Environments

In Shlomit Harrosh & Roger Crisp (eds.), Moral Evil in Practical Ethics. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 145-164 (2018)
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Abstract
Thinking of the evils of homophobia and what is needed to survive them requires acknowledging a new category of evil besides the evils of individual deeds, social practices and social structures. That further category is evil social environments. Building on the work of Jeremy Waldron on the harm in hate speech, this chapter extends that account to certain hate crimes that, like the written word, send a lingering social message. The cases of four women survivors of homophobia are then examined in relation to such harm. Two who wrote memoirs had been targeted for murder, one in an evil environment, the other in a more positively responsive environment. The remaining two survival stories are less dramatic. But they are important in how they illustrate ordinary challenges faced successfully by lesbians and gay men in emotionally toxic environments, and how, in this sense, those not directly threatened with murder might still be justly regarded as survivors. The chapter concludes with reflections on the meanings of survival and some of the costs of surviving an evil homophobic environment.
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