Heteronormativity is the belief that there are only two distinct genders, male and female, and that heterosexuality is the default or normal sexual orientation. Examples of heteronormativity can include being asked why you don’t have have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or automatically assigning feminine-masculine gender roles to same-sex couples.
Homophobia is essentially a more aggressive, forceful form of heteronormativity. Homophobia is a strong dislike or prejudice towards LGBT+ individuals. Examples of homophobia include marriage and adoption laws, conversion therapy, the use of harmful slurs, or acts of violence and hate crimes against members of the LGBT+ community.
Homophobia is closely related to biphobia, which can be found both inside and outside of the LGBT+ community. People who are biphobic may tell those who identify as bisexual that they need to choose a side, simply want attention, or are inherently cheaters. Transphobia is dislike or prejudice against transgender individuals, and can also be found both inside and outside of the LGBT+ community.
Internalized homophobia refers to those who experience same-sex attraction but are also homophobic. They are often unable to embrace their identity and never come out. They may feel uncomfortable with their own feelings and are unable to come to terms with it.
Heteronormativity can often evolve into homophobia. Homophobia is marked by a severe hatred or discriminatory behavior towards the LGBT+ community, while heteronormativity is the assumption that everyone is either male or female, and that opposite-sex relationships are the norm.
You can help put an end to both homophobia and heteronormativity by refraining from using slurs, never assuming someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation, and educating yourself on LGBT+ issues. Speak up if you see or hear anyone being homophobic or heteronormative, and remember that everyone deserves to be respected and accepted, regardless of what they identify as or who they are attracted to.