"As long as they are not open about it and shove it in my face" is a qualifying statement for most self-identified open-minded and heterosexual friends, following declarations of support for LGBT people. Yes, support comes with limitations and qualifications - a very rational process that might not be homophobic but heterosexist/centric.
Let us look at this rationally then. Let assume there are two genders/sexes in this world, as prescribed and indoctrinated into us by Western medico-moral Judaeo-Christian-Islamic norms, Confucian patriarchal "values", and the mores that inform our legislative and administrative structures.
In this framework, how many permutations of monogamous unions can there be from these two units, man and woman? Three. Man & woman, man & man, woman & woman. If this is the case, isn't the laws of the land and the laws in certain religions privileging one third of these possibilities?
My friends who show they are accepting and supportive of LGBT people are symptoms of heterosexism, and this "acceptance" and "support" for LGBT folks remains articulated in homophobia in this rubric.
LGBT people grow up in a heterocentric/normative environment. Our social and cultural logic are oriented towards the belief that heterosexuality and the correspondence of gender (the behaviour) with sex (the physiology) are the normal, natural and default status of all human beings. It is very much the same when Europeans used to consider interracial sexual relations (particularly with the darker skinned Africans) as tantamount to bestiality, or that slavery was justified because the African people are not seen as human beings, but more like animals. In this case, white-ness, or the Caucasian identity, is seen to be a normal, natural state of human being. You are not human if you are not white.
This heterocentric/normative environment is a self-perpetuating one. The cycle includes heterosexual procreative unions, codes, rules and laws which legitimise and promote this, social behaviour believing that is the natural form of being, thus the morally right form of being, and this set of beliefs are further protected and ascribed with moral meanings from powerful institutions such as the law and religion.
As such, what is taken for granted is this straight privilege most heterosexual folks have. We welcome and do not challenge images of happy man-woman couples, holding hands, having a meal together, or kissing. Yet at the same time, the heterosexual-identified folks who claim to be LGBT-affirmative are saying they do not appreciate the same kinds of representation for man-man and woman-woman couples. This is ethically imbalanced.
Even the subtle sign of homosexual affection might be constituted as the brash and confrontational "shoving it in my face" gay-ness according to straight folks. Something is wrong. Are rules and laws determined by the discomforts of heterosexuality and the heterosexist belief that homosexual-identified people feel no sense of discomfort at heterosexual displays of affection? Who has greater privilege then?
I find the heterosexist panic a ridiculous act of overreaction. The fact there exist straight narratives against the "promotion and celebration of homosexuality" at the slightest positive portrayal of homosexuality goes to show that there are many insecurities that "practising" heterosexuals have when it comes to instances when their belief of heterosexuality's natural-ness, normalcy and right(eous)ness become challenged.
It is always perfectly fine and normal for guys to talking (objectify) about women, or girls wanting to be that white bride, or of people using the mechanisms of heterosexuality such as pictures of their families and children. These are displayed and performed without the fear of being harshly judged and excommunicated. Gay men and lesbian women do not have that privilege.
Since LGBT folks don't have the privilege, the heterosexual-identified people take it upon themselves to assume LGBT does not exist, is merely a phase, a lifestyle that can be practised and discarded; not knowing that the very heterosexist system of oppression has created the silent and silenced LGBT person, in turn contributing to greater misinformation and malicious myth-making. It is probably how we take for granted the fact that we live in a Judaeo-Christian-Islamic-centric world, and when we say "thank God", we assume the supremacy of monotheism. Of course, if you are orthodox enough, you would also encourage the mass culling of non-believers if conversion failed.
Why do some straight people believe that LGBT silence is and should be an acceptable condition for coexistence? Ok, from the religious point of view, there are culturally ascribed meanings of morality and sin put (violently) on the bodies and lives of LGBT people. Outside religion, although we can never disassociate religion's entwinement with the legal and cultural institutions of society, there are "values" of patriarchy that reinforce the belief of the naturalness of heterosexual unions. We have cultural industries that promote and reinforce what men and women should be, as well as laws and governmental policies that tell us what we can and cannot do with our gender, bodies and sexuality.
Because of all these laws, norms and rules, which have come to serve their heterosexual masters, LGBT people have no say. And if they did speak up, they would be deemed as shouting or shoving their beliefs into others' faces. This is indicative of a defence mechanism of heterosexist hypersensitivity put in place to safeguard the flimsiness and hypocrisies of straight-ness. In this view, what is considered natural cannot be challenged, and more defence mechanisms like religion are set up to protect this thought. LGBT silence is thus taken for granted by straight people.
In Singapore's case, LGBT emancipation and freedom from discrimination will probably never see the light of day, so long as political and community leaders do not humbly see what they have as privileges relative to that of LGBT-identified folks. Moreover, unlike religion or to a lesser extent race, LGBT Singaporeans are probably the least likely to commit violence or use the threat of unrest to make a demand. LGBT Singaporeans are also unlikely to affect voting patterns in times of election. These are some of many reasons why they remain marginalised and in a state of indignation. They are so low down the pecking order of priorities as seen by our political leadership, that sexual identity as a demographic category is almost non-existent.
Our government sees race and religion as potentially destabilising because of their potential for widespread unrest or even violence, but policy should never be made in the anticipation of the violence, but for the idea of harmonious coexistence. We have obviously missed the bigger picture, and that is proven by our disregard for LGBT Singaporeans. You can say that Chinese gamble too much, Indians drink too much, or Malays don't do anything too much, but compare these myths to the myths of HIV/Aids, sexually-transmitted diseases, immorality, sin, promiscuity, association with bestiality and paedophelia, "sick-in-the-head" mental illness, etc. that are inscribed on defenseless LGBT folks (they have no sustainable public platform to protect themselves any way). Who gets more abuse? Shouldn't there be protection? Shouldn't there be efforts made to stop this and also create platforms for dialogue and wider LGBT participation?
I believe that straight people should reevaluate their beliefs and ask themselves why do they even see any portrayal of homosexuality as "shoving it into my face". What is it about the views and beliefs that you subscribe to that have allowed you to interpret this as such? What are the assumptions you hold that have allowed you to give judgement, believing that something or some action is right or wrong? What are the repercussions of these views? Do you think it is fair?
I have heterosexuality "shoved into my face", especially when guys with masculinity complex try to "man up" and the way they talk about women just to emphasise their heterosexuality. I have no problems with these genedered/sexed performances. I have no problems either when I see same-sex couples who probably aren't much bothered to prove anything.
Reverse logic would fail because its articulation will fall on the same ignorant ears of the privileged. I doubt heterosexual people will ever be able to fathom being maligned for their heterosexuality, being made to stomach others' beliefs that heterosexuality is wrong, sinful and immoral, and that any positive displays of it would be equivalent to the rude shoving-it-into-my-face. That is probably why I would encourage the evaluation of the privileges we have as heterosexual people. It is not about feeling grateful for who you are, but understanding the ethical and social implications when you force your beliefs and judgement onto others.
Unfortunately, bigotry casts no reflection on any mirror. Some heterosexual people are even disturbed by positive portrayals of heterosexuality. These are the people who are greater threats to society, because they see it as their duty to influence ideological development and change. Moreover, they have religious membership, something that would bring any self-proclaimed secular government down to its knees (with hands tied behind its back).
I believe we can do something about this affliction and the leprosy of desire that is homophobia and transphobia (nice to reclaim and re-use those rheotric, no?). We need to ask the homophobic and transphobic questions, since they like to be active participants on sexuality, wanting to appear as experts and authority voices. Apart from the questions posed, I would like to ask you, "What is it about YOU when you see positive portrayals of homosexuality as its promotion, celebration and glorification, shoving it in your face?"