According to the lecture power-point in our Women's Studies class, homophobia refers to the aversion or hatred of homosexuals and their lifestyles, along with behaviors based on such aversions.
I feel as if that definition is important in grasping an understanding of the relationship between homosexuals and heterosexuals. Aside from the groups of hardcore Christians and narrow-minded Republicans, at least in my generation, homosexuality isn’t that big of a deal.
I am going to pull from the lifestyle that I am familiar with, that of a college student. Heterosexual men and women interact with homosexual men and women on a daily basis within the college life experience. Multiple friendships occur between them and they go to lunch together, they work in the library together, they hang out in dorm rooms together, they form intramural teams together, they do all those things that a typical friendship between two heterosexual people do on campus. But rarely do you see these things occur willingly between two people of the same sex if they do not both identify within the same category of heterosexuality. Almost exclusively does this friendship between heterosexual and homosexual individuals occur in a friendship that is also of members of the opposite sex.
I feel that homophobia is the reason for this. I argue that there is an acceptance within my generation of homosexuality. But there is still a great deal of fear for heterosexuals in the idea that someone of the same sex is going to find them sexually attractive, so they avoid friendships with them altogether. But when that person is of the opposite sex, there is no fear they will find you sexually attractive, therefore the friendship is treated just like that of two women or two men.
Generally speaking, heterosexual men have a harder time getting over their homophobia than heterosexual women do. Heterosexual women are more accepting, I feel, towards friendships of the same sex with someone that identifies themselves as homosexual.