You Can’t Call Me A Homophobe If I’m Not Afraid

Another collab with Becky Hawkins!

If you like these cartoons, then you’re an exceptionally refined person and people all over the world are clamoring to know you to such an extent that it’s actually become difficult for you to go out in public unless you wear like, a slouch hat and big sunglasses, but that just makes you look like a spy and other spies come up to you and try to exchange briefcases and it’s just awkward and also support the patreon.

This is one of those “frustratingly dense argument I’ve been hearing for decades” cartoons, aka “Barry should really spend less time on Twitter.”

Here’s the particular tweet that directly inspired this cartoon:

I guess I’d call this “argument by paronomasia.” In English words and idioms have meanings which are determined by usage, not by etymology or component parts.

I’m not against etymology, of course. Etymology can be a fascinating history of how words came to be and how they evolved. But they don’t dictate meaning.

Becky agreed to let me show you a couple of the selfies she took as reference for drawing this strip. Enjoy!


This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows a white man speaking directly to the reader; he has curly orange-ish hair and is wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt,


MAN: Here’s a newsflash for you stupid lefties! Sometimes words aren’t literally true!


The man smirks big and makes air quotes with his fingers.

MAN: Like when you call me a “homophobe” or “transphobe” just because I want those people fired from schools!

MAN: Idiot lefties! “Phobia” means “fear” but I’m not literally afraid! lol lol lol!


He holds up a forefinger to emphasize his point. He’s grinning big.

MAN: You called me “white supremacist” when I said Blacks are genetically stupid…

MAN: But I think Asians are better at math than whites! So I don’t think whites are “supreme.” lolol!


The man leans closer to the camera, widening his eyes and pursing his lips in a “oooh spooky” expression, while making the “mind blown” gesture with his hands on each side of his head.

MAN: The “big apple” is not a fruit! “Boxing rings” are square! “Hot dogs” aren’t dogs!

MAN: Aren’t you amazed at how clever I am? Is your mind blooown?

This cartoon on Patreon

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5 Responses to You Can’t Call Me A Homophobe If I’m Not Afraid

  1. 1
    Duncan says:

    I think we could do worse than abandon the term “homophobia.” Most of the time “antigay bigotry” is more accurate.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Since “homophobia” is our language’s word for “antigay bigotry,” I’m not sure that it really makes a difference.

    If I were god of words, I admit I would have chosen a different word to catch on, or be coined. But that’s just not how language works. For reason that are opaque to me, “homophobia” is the word that caught on. And in practice, people do seem to understand what it means.

  3. 3
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    I’m not convinced that most anti-minority hatred/bigotry isn’t also fear.

  4. 4
    Eytan Zweig says:

    My own dispreference for “homophobia” as a term has less to do with the “phobia” part, and more to do with the “homo” part, because there’s an element of bi-erasure to it; homophobes often are quite as bigoted against openly bisexual people as they are against homosexual people, but the term doesn’t reflect that. However, I can’t think of a better term that doesn’t replace that problem with other problems, so I will continue using “homophobia” (and it’s related words) until a better alternative presents itself.

  5. 5
    Lauren says:

    I’m not convinced that most anti-minority hatred/bigotry isn’t also fear.

    Definitely. Fear of losing status/unaknowleged privilege in a more equitable world in general. Fear of the unknown, based in an unwillingness to recognize shared experiences and a focus only on the differences. Fear of having to reexamine long heald believesabout how the world (should) work. Fear of having to admit that everything one achieved in life was not based only on hard work (or even general good luck) but also in part helped by the ways in which one is privileged. Granted, some of these are more easily spotted when people are reacting to activsts, but they are there.

    Homophobia and transphobia are so often very clear expressions of fear of anything that threatens a limiting, binary and heterosexual model of human sexes and sexualities. Toxic masculinity at it’s finest (btw, what do we call it when women are the ones enforcing those ideal?). This leads to the strange phenomena where men of any age often express fear at the thought of changing in a room together with a gay man – because if he finds them attractive, that might make others think they are gay as well? Or because it might turn them into the object of attraction instead of the subject, which would put them beneath women in the hirarchy? – and yet when a queer man tells them they are not interested in/ attracted to them, they get offended.