The word “homophobia,” when broken down, roughly means being scared of homosexuals. Its loaded suffix suggests that it’s a clinical term, just as arachnophobia refers to people with a fear of spiders.
Gregory M. Herek, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis who has studied LGBT prejudice for decades, argues that the words “homophobia” and “homophobic” are limited in their ability to describe what’s really going on, because it’s not just fear that drives these attitudes.
“It’s a lot of work for one word to do,” he told Tech Insider. “And it makes it hard for us to really analyze the concept, to break it down into the different pieces that are implicitly there.”