i really, really dislike the trope in fiction that only the assholes, the bullies, and the “villains” can be homophobic. (this goes for any hateful -ism, really, but given that it was prompted by homophobia i’m going to run with that.)
homophobia would be much easier to dismiss if it only came from the douchebags of the population; if everyone ~good~ looked down on it, defended against it; if the line was clear between good person (accepting) and bad person (hateful). that’s not to say it wouldn’t still be hurtful, but there would be that support there of it’s only the assholes, it’s only the assholes.
unfortunately, what makes those comments hurt is that they more often come from people you love, people you’re friends with, people whose opinions you generally respect - your mom, your friend, your coworker, your teacher… hearing a kid in the hallway call someone a dyke might make me flinch, but it was hearing my grandma say it that made me cry.
it’s that discordance - that people who are otherwise very nice, caring, and intelligent can still have ignorant, hateful opinions - that is lost in a lot of fiction. it’s lazy writing, and - it feels to me - defensive. by designating prejudice only to the villains of the piece, the writers both distance themselves (only assholes! not us!) and erase actual experience. you’re not doing a service to us by creating a world where homophobia is only ever wielded by villains; all you’re doing is reducing an experience you’ve likely never had to flat, simplified flaw.