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To be a homophobe in 2014 is, increasingly, to find oneself on the fast track to social scorn.In an environment of growing acceptance, we condemn homophobic feelings, particularly in men, because we think they come from inside the individual and are thus his full responsibility. If there's a Laura in the story, there will not be a Lyra; if there's an Ed, there will not be a Ted.If you wake up one morning and suddenly discover that you don't know any two people with the same first name and that your phone number begins with 555, you can safely assume you've fallen into a work of fiction.With so much on the line, it’s no surprise that men take up the job of policing this boundary themselves, lest it be policed by someone else, to their detriment.It’s worth noting that men confront their fear with brilliant creativity.But perception is a precarious thing; a “zero-tolerance” policy has taught men that the way people think of them can change permanently with one slip, one little kiss or too-intimate friendship.

Heterosexuality’s power lies in perception, not physical truth—as long as people think you’re exclusively attracted to the right gender, you’re golden.Clearly, men in America have grown up learning to be scared of gayness.But not only for the reasons we typically think—not only, in the end, because of religion, insecurity about their own sexuality, or a visceral aversion to other men’s penises.In college they played chicken, where two guys each slide their hand up the other one’s inner thigh.Whoever gets freaked out first loses—or wins, really.