Well the definition of "homophobia" as per the English Dictionary is simply "a fear or dislike of gay people". The term often gets added to the ever-growing list of prejudices and discriminations, but these usually end in "ism", and to some, the adding of the "ism" seems to add a bit more gravitas to their existence. From the same dictionary, the definition of "racism" reads as "the belief that other races of people are not as good as your own", while "sexism" defines as "the belief that the members of one sex are less intelligent, able, skillful, etc. than the members of the other sex". Using the "phobia" suffix seems to almost undermine it; what's worse - claustrophobia or homophobia? They're both phobias after all, aren't they?
Clearly homophobia exists, the evidence is all around us every day. However, whether the word "homophobia" is severe enough or not (personally, I think "homoism", or the more encompassing "queerism", would be far more appropriate), it is the term used to cover any thought, word or deed that is prejudicial or discriminatory to any LGBT individual or community in any way. Its use has soared in the last decade as the battle toward Gay Rights and full equality has escalated, but at times you can't help but think it's beginning to head down the same route as renaming blackboards "chalkboards" and calling brainstorming "mind-mapping". Extreme political correctness has gone wild in the UK, in some places righting the balance toward equality, but in others putting social restrictions on things you wouldn't think could have restrictions on them. Because when a vegan mothers sings "This little piggy went to market; this little piggy stayed at home..." the piggy couldn't possibly have roast beef, could it? "This little piggy had stuffed peppers? This little piggy had quinoa? A spicy bean burger? Facon?"
Calling someone "gay" at my school was an insult. Calling someone "gay" on the street is still considered to be offensive, because of the loading behind these words, so does the word "gay" still have negative connotations? Not really, but like any words, it becomes the intention behind them and the way they're delivered that determines how they're meant. Thankfully, a gay equivalent of the N-Word doesn't exist, whereby its use by anyone except the community it refers to is indelibly homophobic. Even the word "faggot" can be coded and decoded, depending on how it's delivered. So instead of making a list of words that are or aren't homphobic, it should be their use that's examined, not their mere existence.
Genuine homophabia obviously needs to be stamped out, but do the gay boxing gloves need to come out to help us stand up to people not really intending on hurting us in any way? I don't mind being called a "fag" if I'm called it affectionately. Hell, call me a "cunt" with a smile and it's as affectionate as a "dear" or "love". As with my whole life, I will always stress that people should only fight the fights that need to be fought; don't stress the little stuff. Now put your backs to the wall lads, because here comes Batty Boy Bent Earner (and if you've only just noticed the pun in my name - gold star for observation!).