The Five Stages Of A Homophobic Twitter Storm

20/09/2016 16:18

So the dust has finally settled on the Great Corrie Twitter Storm of 2016. But it's only a matter of time before the next homophobic hurricane comes over the horizon.

Like tropical cyclones in the Caribbean, they tend to follow a fairly similar pattern. So, pack up your meteorological equipment, perfect your best Helen Hunt impression (just squint at the sky A LOT) and let's take a closer look at this phenomenon.

Image Source: Warner Bros Pictures

Stage 1: The butterfly flapping its wings

Homophobic outrage - a seriously ugly butterfly to be fair. But just a few beats of its wing and it can cause a storm all across the twitter sphere. It can even result in media coverage.

This time? 'Faggots' were kissing on TV before 8pm. The insolence. Gays, like women in Saudi Arabia, Victorian children, or vampires, should not be seen or heard during the day. At the very least we shouldn't be too visible - maybe just covered head to toe in black (flattering for some, admittedly) or hiding under years of shame and self-loathing.

Right on cue someone popped up to complain: 'We don't need it rammed down our throats'.

Image Source: Universal Pictures

This always happens. It's become some ghastly tradition, like waking up after a heavy night with half a doner kebab on your pillow. Or the UKIP party conference.

Note how this is always said without any irony or innuendo...not even a side eye emoji. People often say homophobia is just repressed homosexuality. If there's any evidence to the contrary, this must rank quite highly.

Stage 2: The storm breaks

All it takes is a few retweets, then the storm pressure builds faster than a bigot can scream 'I'm not homophobic, but...' You can insert almost any derogatory statement in here.

Within minutes, a load of hot air and hatred starts blowing. All the usual suspects pop up. You know the type; #BritainFirst in their bio, a splash of UKIP yellow and purple across their account.

Thankfully gay twitter - and allies - get involved. Gone are the days of collectively lowering our gaze, refusing to make eye contact and walking a bit faster (but not too fast).

Strangely, only at this point does the term 'professionally outraged' pop up. Not before. Not at the point when thousands of people are frothing at the mouth over two fictional people locking lips.

It's usually spouted by someone who's taking the time to put pen to paper, who can actually be bothered to buy stamps and post strongly worded letters to the regulator and their MP. The Wright Show may also get a balling, incoherent call.

That sort of outrage is considered perfectly normal. But the type directed at homophobia and the damage it causes to LGBT youth in particular, well that's considered just a bit much. Homelessness and suicide? 'Calm down. Get a sense of perspective'. It's like trying to argue about proportionality with a painter from the Middle Ages. Their views on homosexuality are from the same era I suppose.

Stage 3: Gale force

Surely also the name of a good drag queen somewhere, this stage is not for the faint hearted.

For those who have weathered previous storms, you can play homophobia bingo at this point:
• Disgusting
• Unnatural
• Leviticus
• Comparisons with paedophilia and bestiality - full house!

Last week people were accused of being 'gay terrorists'. Not quite sure what that involves...glitter bombs perhaps?

As the storm builds and they see that we won't just roll over quietly and accept the abuse, they'll start to victim blame. 'You're just expressing an opinion and now you're being attacked!'. *Deep sigh*.

They also tend to lose any understanding of cause and effect. They'll continue voicing offensive and often abusive opinions, while trying to deny others the right to reply. Last week a guy was 'appalled at the vitriol' his tweet stirred. That'll be the tweet which called all homosexuals sickening. Try arguing with logic like that and you'll go mad.

Image Source: CBS

Some then have a moment of realisation. This is when they'll portray themselves as the brave voice of a silent majority. The rest of the UK gives them an awkward look.

Stage 4: Hurricane

Full force, this is where more and more people are pulled in on both sides of the argument. And this is where the damage is done, especially to those who are still in the closet or coming to terms with their sexuality. Which is why getting involved may be more important than you think - otherwise we let them frame what is and isn't acceptable.

But let's be honest, as the storm rages, so do tempers. When we have the moral high ground, it's best not to join the trolls in the gutter. It's rare to insult someone towards your point of view.

And yet, it's understandable. People have had to deal with this shit all their lives. The anger their insults come from is not misplaced. Many of us have been bullied, verbally attacked and physically assaulted for far less than a romp on the bed. Often for just walking down the street.

If you feel yourself getting caught up in the action, your best bet is to try and find the eye of the storm: keep calm and ignore the trolls.

Stage 5: The fall out

Eventually it all starts to die down, leaving a trail of blocked and suspended accounts across the twitter-sphere.

Some switch off for the night. Others remove themselves from Twitter entirely.

For the homophobes who do cut and run, it's perhaps a tiny glimpse of what the LGBT community have had to deal with all their lives. If you can't handle people questioning your views on twitter, imagine people questioning your identity and existence in real life. You delete your account, those you accuse and abuse delete their lives.

So although the dust may eventually settle online, in real life the damage can be far longer-lasting.

Last week's storm won't be the last. But thankfully we don't have to batten down the hatches anymore. Stand tall, dance in the rain.