FEAR OF SPIDERS AND OTHER PHOBIAS
Right now I’m watching a little black spider weave an elaborate web outside our kitchen window. But I’m not admiring his handiwork.
I’m anxiously wondering if cockroach spray will knock him dead because we don’t have anything labelled ‘spider-killer’ in the cupboard. I’m far too gutless to get close enough to squash him.
My fear of spiders is as irrational as the fear some folks have of homosexuals. I don’t have any logical reason to hate our eight-legged friends — at least not the harmless ones at home — but their beady little eyes, the fact they can run so fast and their ability to disappear and reappear spontaneously totally freaks me out.
Thursday, May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — a day to acknowledge that although we’ve come a long way, unjust laws and unfriendly attitudes mean that discrimination against queers is still widespread.
Even though I’m a happy young homo, the fact that I can’t get married and that I occasionally get yelled at on the street when I hold my girlfriend’s hand upsets me because I don’t understand the logic behind it. But that’s the thing — homophobia, like any phobia — is not based on common sense.
Xanthophobes fear the colour yellow, tetraphobes can’t stand the number four, omphalophobes are scared shitless of bellybuttons — and I think spiders are out to kill me. Even daddy-long-legs.
My silly fear that all spiders are deadly is the same as saying all poofs are promiscuous or all dykes are angry thugs. Sure, some gay boys do get around, and some lezzers are totes scary-looking, but that’s no reason to attack them with cockroach spray.
If grumpy old homophobes can see the error of their ways when a close friend or family member comes out, perhaps I just need to spend some quality time with spiders.
If I got to know them maybe I’d see their webs as delicate works of art, I’d thank them for keeping the house free of bugs, I’d admire their pretty colours and I’d learn to appreciate their company. But right now I’m just too scared to get close.
In case you’re wondering, the spider lived. Can’t say we’re buddies, but I’m being tolerant. Hearts and minds don’t change overnight — even when there’s no logical reason for them not to.
* Monique Schafter is an LGBT Advocate, Walkley Award winning storyteller and Star Observer columnist in Sydney Austrailia. You can follow Monique on Twitter at @MoniqueSchafter
** This article has been reprinted in its entirity with the permission of its writer and its original source The Sydney Star Observer – Many thanks to them both.