You can’t call yourself an ally if you’re dating a boy who’s subtly homophobic

Sorry but if you let him get away with saying ‘that’s so gay’ you’re part of the problem


Happy Pride Month! Now go dump your boyfriend that says the F word. No, not that F word. I mean f*ggot. Last month I told you that if you’re a girl dating a boy who says subtly racist things, you’re part of the problem. Now it’s Pride month, and I’m here to hit you with another bombshell: If you’re also letting your boyfriend get away with subtle homophobia, you cannot call yourself a true ally to the LGBTQ+ community.

It really is as simple as that. So many men still engage in subtle homophobia on the daily and it goes completely unchecked by their loved ones, leaving it to continue indefinitely. I’m talking “no homo” jokes, saying “that’s gay” as an insult to something, claiming they have no problem with gay people but would rather gays “just not kiss in front of me”, sexualising lesbians and women who get off in front of them. All of this is subtle homophobia. And that’s pretty fucking bad as it is, but some girlfriends will let their man get away with saying the f word “when he’s playing CoD with the boys” or jokingly calling a butch lesbian a “d*ke”. This is never okay. If you respect LGBTQ+ people in any sense, you would dump these men – or make them unlearn their homophobia, no questions asked.

It’s not uncommon – these boys still exist, and girls still date them. Even the most progressive girls wind up in relationships with men that hold questionable (and when I say questionable I mean offensive and straight up homophobic) views. As one of my mates told me: “I’m pretty sure every girl I know has dated a boy like this.” And she wasn’t wrong.

That is why this is such a massive problem. Every girl has dated this type of man – it is that widespread. Lola, a 21-year-old, was dating a guy up until a few months ago who genuinely didn’t believe lesbians existed. She told The Tab: “He would say stuff to me like ‘Everyone who calls themselves a lesbian is actually just bi. Every girl wants to fuck a guy at some point. Bisexual guys don’t exist either, they’re just gay.’ He was just convinced that lesbians didn’t exist. I can’t even remember what I said at the time he said that, but I ended things with him recently and I’m so glad. He had so many horrible values and beliefs and I’m angry that I stayed with someone that grim for so long to be honest, but I feel so good reflecting back on how messed up his opinions were and knowing I’ve escaped that.”

Katelyn, a Lincoln student, went through a similar experience. Her ex, who she dated for 10 months, once told her he was fine with her gay friend but only if he didn’t act “too girly” around him. “At the time it happened I told him that he couldn’t say stuff like that he was all like ‘Why? It’s a fair statement. Just like if we ever had a son and he was gay I wouldn’t want him to parade it in front of me’ and I just went off about how ignorant that was. He kind of understood and didn’t make any more comments like that for a while. But then he’d say things like ‘oh that’s so gay’ etc towards the end of the relationship and by that point I was just like ‘nah, bye’.

“I think letting that behaviour slide was a major disservice to people of the LGBTQ+ community and I felt horrible at the time knowing I had friends part of the community and I’d gotten myself involved in that. I tried to change the way he thought so many times because he was a nice person, but evidently not the nicest because he had opinions like that. I’d never date a guy like that again.”

Even women who aren’t straight experience and allow this kind of behaviour. Kim, a bisexual student at University of Manchester, told The Tab: “When I was 16 I dated a biphobic guy, despite being bisexual myself. He always made small comments trivialising my sexuality, saying that ‘I’d just kissed a girl at a party and now I was confused.’ He brought it up fairly regularly, and even spoke to my friends about it behind my back. While I eventually ended things with him – partially because of the biphobia – looking back I can’t believe I ever tolerated that behaviour. It makes me feel embarrassed and incredibly sad. I was still figuring out my role within the community and didn’t feel strong enough to call him out. Now I would never date someone who didn’t respect my identity, and all members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Ellie, who is also bi, had a similar run in with her biphobic ex-boyfriend. “I was dating a guy who was really into me until I cut my hair into a pixie cut. After that, he didn’t want to kiss me at all and when he did kiss me he would do this weird flinch after. He told me that my haircut actually made him feel as though he was ‘kissing a guy’. Not only that, but he used my bisexuality to accuse me of cheating with everyone and anyone. Like three girls in his friendship group were LGBTQ+, yet he remained that uneducated and gross. Run, run, run. After we broke up and he found I had started dating a girl, he approached me and told me what a ‘naughty girl’ I had become. So, it’s clear I made the right choice by dumping him.”

She did. Because there really are only two choices in this situation. Dump him or teach him. If you think calling out your boyfriend when he says things like this is awkward, or arduous and you just can’t be bothered to have that fight – maybe you should have a good long look at yourself. If you cannot bring yourself to call out the people in your life that are closest to you, and use that influence to change their backward opinions, how can you ever call yourself an ally? How can you ever say you support the gay community? It’s really not that hard, just tell him: “Look, you shouldn’t say that. This is why.” It’s one uncomfortable chat with one boy that could prevent a lifetime of uncomfortable experiences for LGBTQ+ people everywhere. And if the boy you’re dating refuses to learn, he has just made your choice for you. Dump him.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

If you’re a girl dating a boy who’s subtly racist, you’re part of the problem

Stealthing, trauma and menstrual blood: Why everyone needs to watch I May Destroy You

LGBT+ students share stories of queerphobia at uni