By Angie Argabrite, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 9:01 am.
When a researcher spent a year inside three British high schools to gather material for a book on masculinity, he found straight teenage boys who were physically affectionate and emotionally expressive. He was surprised to note that the boys had blacklisted the “That’s so gay” insult that remains popular Stateside and that British teens actually ganged up on homophobic classmates. European athletes, especially, are being held accountable for homophobic behavior: This month the English Football Association fined a player £7,000 for “using abusive and/or insulting words [about] a person’s sexual orientation,” and a soccer coach in Madrid now faces a suit from the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation after allegedly making a homophobic slur. The U.S. lags the U.K. by 10 years regarding homophobia, though it is noted that the U.S., where “homophobic” is a newly derogatory label, has made considerable progress. Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson has called out Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum as a homophobe (nothing that outspoken columnist Dan Savage hasn’t said before), while a CNN contributor was suspended after making a series of tweets that many construed as homophobic. In British Columbia, $2 million was invested in a national study on the effectiveness of programs to eradicate bullying of LGBT teens, and Chicago’s Wheaton College is producing a documentary on homophobia. Perhaps it’s time for Coca-Cola to dust off its “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” campaign.