Study: Homophobia Masks Gay Feelings
by Steve Williams
• April 10, 2012
A new study indicates that those who are homophobic may secretly harbor self-hatred over their own same-sex desires.
Reports Science Daily:
“Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study’s lead author.
“In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” adds co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research.
The research report, issued by researchers from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara, suggests that repressed same-sex desires due to negative reinforcement through authoritarian parenting are prominent factors in developing intense feelings of loathing and even hatred of gay people which may in later life lead to hostility towards those who are gay or perceived to be gay.
The paper drew evidence from four separate experiments conducted in the United States and in Germany. Each study involved an average of 160 college students and provided empirical evidence that corroborates longstanding psychoanalytic theories that intense negative feelings toward gay and lesbian people can stem from repressed same-sex desires.
In order to investigate the difference between how participants identified and what their implicit sexual attractions were, researchers carried out a number of experiments. In one such investigation, researchers charted the differences between respondents’ self-identifying statements and how they reacted during a split-second timed task where they were shown words and pictures and asked to label them as “gay” or “straight” while a computer tracked their response times. A faster association of “me” and “gay” and a slower association of “me” and “straight” indicated implicit homosexuality.
Researchers also used a series of questionnaires to assess whether respondents had a controlling upbringing. For example they were asked whether during their childhood they felt free to express their individuality or whether they felt pressured to conform. They were also asked questions relating to homophobia in the household, assessing whether respondents agreed with statements like “My dad avoids gay men whenever possible.”
Researchers then sort to gauge participants’ own levels of homophobia, again both explicit and implicit. Researchers used another series of questionnaires and a second round of quick-fire associations designed to track the amount of aggressive responses the word “gay” elicited when applied to themselves and to others.
The trials revealed a clear pattern: where participants had supportive and accepting parents they were more likely to be in touch with their implicit sexual orientation. However, when participants came from strict anti-gay homes they were less likely to be aware of their implicit sexual orientation. Additionally, participants who identified as being more heterosexual than their implicit scores were more likely to be hostile to gay people. This discrepancy between self-identification and unconscious responses predicted a variety of homophobic behaviors including hostility toward gay people, endorsement of anti-gay politics, and discriminatory bias.
There were of course limitations to these findings given that all participants were college-age students. Researchers now want to test whether these results are similar in other age groups and whether attitudes may change overtime.
In their report the study’s authors also suggest this pattern may be the reason why prominent anti-gay figures have later been caught engaging in or having engaged in same-sex sexual activities, citing examples such as evangelical preacher Ted Haggard who vocally opposed gay marriage (and still does) but found himself the center of scandal in 2006.
The study’s authors caution that while we may find this hypocrisy amusing, homophobia stemming from self-hatred may also at least partly contribute to cases like the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard.
Here is a letter from Peter Stokes - of Salt Shakers fame, although it doesn't say so in his letter in The Age newspaper on Sunday 15 April 2012.
After his letter I have written my version of how his letter could have been written from a gay or lesbian perspective.
To say that Stokes's letter is crass and unacceptable is to be kind to it. As ever. he is comparing homosexuality with paedophilia and theft. This man has no shame, no understanding of the harm he causes, no intelligent approach to his diatribe.
He should take a look at our web pages on homophobia to read how the cristian ministries in the USA and Australia have been discredited with research and studies proving their mumbo jumbo to be just that - unsubstantiated rubbish with no reality in the real world in which they live.
First the Stokes letter:
Right to try
MICHAEL Lallo suggests that ''ministries are preying on gay shame'', based on the feeling of people who have tried to change [their homosexual tendencies] and failed.
Does the same premise stand for those who have tried to give up alcohol or illegal drugs and failed, for the thief who wants to reform or the paedophile? Are they damaged by those who try to help but fail?
What about the ones who succeed? Is it wrong to try to help someone out of their ''shame'' of an addiction? Of course not, because the people who seek help know that what they are doing is wrong. Guess what? So do those homosexuals who try to leave their sexual addiction behind. Some do, some don't, but they all deserve the right to try.
PETER STOKES, Bayswater
My take on the above letter - rewritten to show the absurdity of the religious right
Right to try?
MICHEL Pallo suggests that ''gay and lesbian groups are preying on christian shame'', based on the feeling of people who have tried to change [their christian tendencies] and failed.
Does the same premise stand for those who have tried to give up homophobia or gay-bashing and failed, for the protestant who wants to reform or the Catholic? Are they damaged by those who try to help but fail?
What about the ones who succeed? Is it wrong to try to help someone out of their ''shame'' of an addiction? Of course not, because the people who seek help know that what they are doing is wrong. Guess what? So do those christians who try to leave their god-addiction behind. Some do, some don't, but they all deserve the right to try.
MANNIE DE SAXE, Preston