The Ick Factor

By | 2013/07/07

Ick FactorThe brilliant comedian, Hannah Gadsby, once described what happens when a homophobe spots gay men:

I think it’s quite common, particularly for older men, to have more of an issue with homosexual men than they do with lesbians … It boils down to one thing: Imagination. And too much of it. Just turn that off and we’ll all be fine. Seriously, if a slightly homophobic man sees two gay men together, this process will take place. First of all, he’ll see them, and he’ll work it out. It takes longer than you think. And then, he’ll imagine what they do with each other. And then, he’ll try to get that out of his head. You watch him:

(shudder) “Oh fuck no! No, no!”

But then, in a further possibly unnecessary step, he’ll imagine himself in that scenario.

(staggers) “Fucken no, no, no!”

He’ll even clench his butt cheeks together.

(walks) “Nup, nup. Not on my watch.”

(Hannah Gadsby, Warehouse Comedy, 2011.)

Like all comedians, Hannah is an accurate observer of human behaviour; I’ve seen that reaction myself on more than a few occasions. I even remember a taxi ride from the CBD of Melbourne to the Laird hotel (a bear and leather bar) where the taxi driver had practically released an emergency superglue satchel stored in his butt cheeks for protection when he realised all three passengers were gay.

It’s the ick factor.

It’s the ick factor that I think of when I see and hear of ridiculous claims by homophobes about just how terrible gays are, such as:

I believe that the government should use the death penalty on murderers, rapists, homosexuals…

Patheos, Christian Pastor: I believe that the government should use the death penalty on homosexuals

Of course, it’s not just restricted to religious authorities. Consider for instance the New Zealand couple who run a guest house but only allow same-sex couples to stay there if they sleep in separate beds.

Indeed, the entire fetid mantra of the catholic church and other assorted religions, “love the sinner, hate the sin”, is equally premised on the ick factor. And when you stop to think about it, the original sin of homophobia, Leviticus, was also premised on the ick factor.

But the ick factor isn’t a a sin or a problem on the part of the people engaging in the sex … it’s a problem for the people who are thinking about it. As a gay man, I don’t spend my time thinking about what heterosexual couples do with each other. It’s not something I find sexually appealing, and so if I’m going to think about sex I’ll be far more likely to think of what two men are going to do. That’s a far more sensible thing: if you don’t like the idea of what adults of a particular gender get up to sexually, don’t think about it.

The ick factor exists in the heads of the people who are homophobic, and the only way it can be solved is by them getting over their fascination with same sex sexual proclivities. If they stop obsessing about it, maybe they can lead healthier lives.

Imagination … just turn that off and we’ll all be fine.