Homophobic Scripts

There’s a script for every marginalized group in America. There’s a script that leads citizens to expect black men to be criminals, a script that expects women to be submissive, a script that expects muslims to be violent. What we don’t know about others, we naturally fill in with the scripts that society has set forth. This, of course, also applies to the LGBT community.

In Gilliam and lyengar’s “Prime Suspects,” they assert that scripts naturally allow observers to “fill in” the gaps of knowledge they don’t necessarily possess. The gay “script” leads people to assume gay men are sexually promiscuous, that lesbians are inherently masculine, and that transgender people are mentally unstable. In fact, almost all of the gay script can be traced back to the notion that homosexuality is a mental disorder, which the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders didn’t remove from their pages until 1973.

In this sense, scripts are simply structures that people assume for others, and are formed and reinforced by stereotypes. In Travis Dixon’s “who is the victim here,” he asserts that “…stereotypes are cognitive structures or categories that affect the encoding and processing of information. These structures or schemas direct attention to some stimuli and away from others, influence categorization of information, helpus ‘fill-in’ missing information, and influence memory. The activation of a stereotype increases the likelihood that this knowledge will be used in subsequent judgments.” All of this, in effect, explains the psychological process that allows people to make racist, sexist, or homophobic assumptions about any given person, despite not actually knowing said person.

In Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation,” he discusses the concept of the Panopticon. The basic concept suggests that the mere idea of an authority figure is enough to make people behave as if said authority actually exists. I believe this idea can relate back to concepts of God/a higher power, wherein though no empirical evidence of such a being exists, it’s enough to make people live their entire lives on the chance that it does, and that they will be punished if they don’t act accordingly. This can be tied to the historically religious condemnation of homosexuals, and how gay people have lived their lives in shame, thinking anything they do, regardless of if it’s actually observed by outside parties, is a damnable sin. I lived much of my life this way, thinking that if I acted on my natural desires it would be seen and I would be punished for it. That, of course, is ridiculous, but being raised in a religious household has made it that, even as comfortable in my lifestyle as I am, I still feel uncertainty in my own actions for no discernible reason. A bit of a stretch, I know, but it was a thought that crossed my mind while reading Baudrillard.


3 thoughts on “Homophobic Scripts

  1. As a social work major changing my own mental scripts has been a journey. Learning to critically analyze the societal messages and religious teachings I’ve heard all my life has helped me to let go of the stereotypes the media beats into us starting the moment we are born. I appreciated the way you tied religion into modern notions of homophobia and condemnation. I have often found it difficult to express why using religion to justify hate and pandering to some unseen authority is a dangerous thing to do. The way you connected the concept of Panopticon and religious condemnation of homophobia helped me to put words to a my frustration with those who use religion to justify homophobia. It also got me thinking about how as a society we begin to challenge these long held scripts. How does our society go about rewriting notions that are thousands of years old? Is it the responsibility of the parent to teach their child how to seek knowledge of all races, ethnicities, sexualities, genders, etc. and not form those mental scripts? Or is it media’s and largely society as a whole’s responsibility to change the way we form scripts and stereotypes? Where does this change begin?


  2. The idea of scripts and how they act as structures and that they are formed and reinforced by stereotypes is something that I completely agree with. For my annotated bibliography, I used Gilliam and lyengar’s “Prime Suspects,” article and looked at how scripts surrounding certain races allows the audience to “fill in” information when it comes to they way the news portrays the incident. Looking at the homophobic scripts was very interesting and I learned a lot. Overall, great blog!


  3. Your piece was really well written and I think you did a great job explaining not only what a script is, but also the different scripts associated with certain groups of people. I would agree with you that from a young age we are taught certain scripts an stereotypes that can be difficult to dispute as we grow up. Especially if you identity with the LGBTQ community and come from a religious household. I know what it is like to come from a very religious home that makes you question all aspects of yourself as a “sinner”. Using Baudrillard’s analysis from his book brought a useful perspective to your piece and finished it really well.


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