A 1996 Study Suggested That Many Homophobes Are Frustrated Gays

News of rabidly anti-gay Republican Sen. Larry Craig’s arrest for lewd behavior in an airport men’s room has highlighted, once again, a signature phenomenon of our era: highly placed, secretly queer rightwingers living on the down low.

“Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.”
– Study

Bisexual men like Sen. Craig and Rev. Ted Haggard would not feel compelled to create public personas that are homophobic if homophobia were not such a powerful dynamic in the country and in our politics these days.

But why are so many people drawn to bigotry against gays? One theory suggests that homophobes have unresolved issues about their own sexuality and transfer their internalized anger, frustration and shame about their own attractions onto people who are gay. In 1996, this theory was tested at the University of Georgia:

The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia …. The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored.

They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire… Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.

A single study is hardly conclusive but the idea that homophobes are deeply frustrated bisexuals contains a germ of common sense. Why would a secure and happy straight person be obsessed with gay people and what they do in bed, and why would that obsession be exhibited as hate and even rage?

H/t: Mr_Smartypants

3 Comments

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  • Bill Flowers
    September 1, 2007 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    This study is not surprising in view of a common defense mechanism (widely accepted in psychological thinking) called “reaction formation.”Picture, if you will, the person ranting about the evils of alcohol who has a drinking problem. These people, as homophobics do, are forming a defensive shield against a “weakness” they have.

  • Ron
    September 13, 2007 - 7:43 am | Permalink

    And this is news to you? Suspicions confirmed! Carl Jung had them pegged years ago (“The things that irritate us about others is often a reflection of ourselves…”). Think about it. Not even the most desperate chubby-chaser would have gone down on Falwell…assuming he could find ‘it’ in all those rolls of fat. Talk about your worst nightmare! “What you’re doing down there is an abomination, you know…you’re going to burn in hell! Lick my balls…”

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