The psychotherapist, George Weinberg, who coined the term ‘homophobia’, has died aged 86.
He invented the word after observing the discomfort of his colleagues around gay people in the 60s. Weinberg discussed the word with gay activists who then used it in a column for Screw Magazine in 1969. Then TIME magazine used it in a cover feature on ‘The Homosexual in America’ months later.
Needless to say, the word has gone on to become an essential part of the LGBTI lexicon.
Dr Weinberg died in Manhattan on Monday. His widow Dianne Rowe attributed the death to cancer, according to the New York Times.
The publication adds Weinberg got thinking about homophobia after his colleagues asked that he disinvite his lesbian friend from a dinner party.
He spoke about the word to Gregory M. Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, in 1998. “I coined the word homophobia to mean it was a phobia about homosexuals,” he said.
“It was a fear of homosexuals which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for — home and family.”
He furthermore added: “It was a religious fear, and it had led to great brutality, as fear always does.”
He wrote passionately about the word, and the continued prevalence of homophobia, for Huffington Post in 2012.