Although the concept of homophobia has been
used extensively in the literature since the
early 1960s, researchers have shown growing
concern for its relevance in present day research.
Additionally, there has been variance
in its definition leading to an array of ambiguities
resulting in methodological limitations in
empirical studies with a disregard for ensuring
that definitions used match the focus of study.
There have been numerous attempts to locate
the construct within a theoretical framework
and this has also resulted in weak empirical
design. These weaknesses in research on homophobia
have resulted in the coining of the
construct heterosexism as a more contemporary
and more appropriate definition than that
of homophobia to indicate anti-gay discrimination.
This review considers both terms with
regard to their appropriateness and distinction
and the utility of the construct heterosexism
as it is applied to contemporary research on
non-heterosexual communities. It is concluded
that homophobia can no longer be framed as
a straightforward function of individual psyches
or irrational fear and loathing and that
heterosexism is more appropriate in defining
prejudiced behaviours and their consequences
for non-heterosexual communities.