Answered on Quora:
I believe that almost all straight men are homophobic on a certain level – and that level is that they hate homosexuality and especially the idea of doing it themselves. Dirty little secret – most straight men are completely straight in part because they think that engaging in homosexual acts is the worst thing on Earth, and this is why they don’t engage in them.
There is a problem when you say that engaging in homosexual acts is just fine. Now the question comes up, “Well, why don’t you do it, then?” And the ugly truth is that most straight men find that idea so horrific that they would rather die than do that. A number of straight men have told me that they would rather take a bullet than engage in a homosexual act. That’s how severe the revulsion is.
Now the question becomes if we think this type of sex is the worst thing on Earth, how can we accept it in other people? This is a bind, but many straight men solve the bind by saying that gay men cannot help being gay, so it’s therefore immoral to hate them. Others somehow say that it’s the worst thing on Earth for them to do it, but it’s ok if those gay guys want to do it.
As you can see, it is difficult for straight men to reconcile their extreme revulsion for gay sex with somehow managing to accept biological gay men for what they are.
The source of a lot of homophobia is simply this rooted in this very revulsion. This seems more common than religious objections from guys I have known.
And it is a problem once you say gay sex is fine. I assure that once a lot of straight men say there’s nothing wrong with gay sex (as we are supposed to think nowadays) that you are going to see a lot more opportunistic and recreational bisexuality among basically straight men. And my anecdotal evidence is that we are seeing just that right now.
It’s a bind. On the one hand, the revulsion causes a lot of homophobia, but on the other hand, once you say there’s nothing wrong with it, I assure you that a lot more guys will start doing it. There’s bad outcomes either way in my opinion.
The likable homophobe would be someone whose homophobia is simply limited to a desire not to associate or deal with gay men. If that’s the total extent of your homophobia, I don’t see the problem. Nobody has to associate or deal with anyone. Our associations are our personal choice and in a free society, everyone has a moral right to associate with whoever they wish.
In fact, I do not associate or even deal much with gay men myself. I don’t hate what they do if they can’t help it. On the other hand, I have had a lifetime of bad experiences with gay men, and I simply do not wish to deal with them anymore. Can someone tell me why this is wrong?
However, I have supported gay rights for decades and even endured accusations of being gay for supporting gay rights. To this day, I support a lot of gay political causes, and I am on the mailing list for gay political organizations. And I do participate in a lot of their campaigns.
In summary, if the total extent of your homophobia is not wishing to associate with gay men, I would say your homophobia is basically nothing and that level of mild homophobia indeed qualifies as a “likable homophobe.”