Men: Homophobia endangers your health!

Elizabeth's picture

Colon Cancer alliance "screen my colon" logo"Don't let fear of letting someone stick something in your butt get in the way of cancer prevention."

Those were not his exact words, but close. The speaker was a survivor of stage 4 colon cancer - one of the rare ones - and his message was all about the importance of colonoscopies. But what was striking to me was that he so bluntly identified one barrier men face when it comes to getting them: fear of anal penetration. He talked about how relieved he was when, after his girlfriend had suggested he request a screening his doctor said "You're only 40, you don't have to worry about that for another 10 years." Two years later, an investigation of ongoing dizziness and anemia, he was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. He regretted not advocating for himself and insisting on the screening, but explained that at the time when the doctor told him not to worry about the screening he was very relieved that he'd be able to put off a procedure that made him feel so squeamish. In trying to convince other men to choose differently he said things like "Guys, nobody will ever know you had one" and "You know how stigmatizing it is if you're a masculine guy to admit that someone put something up your butt, but it's so important to get screened."

He never used the word "homophobia" but that is essentially what he was talking about. Why else would he emphasize "Guys, nobody will ever know you had one" and what other stigma around "putting something up your butt" could he have meant other than the stigma of male homosexuality?

So it made me think. We know that homophobia is hazardous to the health of gay men, and any man who incoroporates stereotypically feminine interests or characteristics into his personality unless they are balanced out by a sufficient number of stereotypically masculine ones. But this is a clear example of how homophobia is hazardous to the health of straight men. And that got me thinking that one subtle way to reduce homophobia is to convince straight men of the merits of sticking things in their butts.

So why not start big, with a long flexible tube and a fiber optic camera!

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