The book is the first English translation of the French language 'Dictionnaire de L'Homophobie,' published in France in 2003 to worldwide acclaim; its editor, Louis-Georges Tin, launched the first International Day Against Homophobia in 2005, now celebrated in more than fifty countries around the world.
The Dictionary of Homophobia was a costly book to write, or in this case edit. It cost editor Louis-Georges Tin his livelihood. Notwithstanding and in spite of the great success Dr. Tin had in an academic milieu right up to that point, with the publication of the Dictionary doors that had previously been open to him were abruptly closed. His teaching contract with the University of Paris was abruptly terminated and his department's chair and vice chair confirmed that the decision was linked to the publication of this volume. While the wide acclaim accorded the book by French society (it was featured on the cover of Le Monde's book review section) would suggest that homophobia is now generally a thing to be condemned, editor Tin's personal experience shows the reality to be quite something else. Behind the thin veneer of civility and admixed with remarkable social progress toward equality in the past decade, the heart of homophobia (just like those of racism, and sexism, and chauvinism) continues to beat in France and elsewhere.
The Dictionary contains nearly 200 essays on various aspects of the gay and lesbian experience, of gay rights and homophobia as experienced in all regions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the South Pacific, from the most progressive social democracies to the over 70 nations wherein homosexual conduct continues to be a criminal (and often, capital) offense, from the earliest epochs to present day. Subjects include religious, cultural and ideological forces such as the Bible, Communism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam; historical subjects, events, and personalities such as AIDS, Stonewall, J. Edgar Hoover, Matthew Shepard, Oscar Wilde, Pat Buchanan, Joseph McCarthy, Pope John Paul II, and Anita Bryant; and other topics such as coming out, adoption, deportation, ex-gays, lesbiphobia, and bi-phobia.
The collection of homophobic quotations from public figures alone could well comprise a volume in themselves ("Unless we get medically lucky [with the then-spreading AIDS epidemic], in three or four years one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals" - Dr. Paul Cameron [US Conservative Political Action conference, 1985])
Because this book was originally written for a French audience, essays focus on events, personalities and circumstances in France, and, to a lesser degree, the European Union. Nonetheless, in a world where gay marriage remains a hot-button political issue, and where adults and even teens are still being executed by authorities for the "crime" of homosexuality, The Dictionary of Homophobia is a both a revealing and necessary history lesson for us all. I recommend it heartily. Regrettably, those most in need of reading it probably never will.