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The article does not try to say it is definite cause/effect but I thought the experiment was interesting.

Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay

Published: April 27, 2012 (New York Times)

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WHY are political and religious figures who campaign against gay rights so often implicated in sexual encounters with same-sex partners?

In recent years, Ted Haggard, an evangelical leader who preached that homosexuality was a sin, resigned after a scandal involving a former male prostitute; Larry Craig, a United States senator who opposed including sexual orientation in hate-crime legislation, was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct in a men’s bathroom; and Glenn Murphy Jr., a leader of the Young Republican National Convention and an opponent of same-sex marriage, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after being accused of sexually assaulting another man.

One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.”

It’s a compelling theory — and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Our paper describes six studies conducted in the United States and Germany involving 784 university students. Participants rated their sexual orientation on a 10-point scale, ranging from gay to straight. Then they took a computer-administered test designed to measure their implicit sexual orientation. In the test, the participants were shown images and words indicative of hetero- and homosexuality (pictures of same-sex and straight couples, words like “homosexual” and “gay”) and were asked to sort them into the appropriate category, gay or straight, as quickly as possible. The computer measured their reaction times.

The twist was that before each word and image appeared, the word “me” or “other” was flashed on the screen for 35 milliseconds — long enough for participants to subliminally process the word but short enough that they could not consciously see it. The theory here, known as semantic association, is that when “me” precedes words or images that reflect your sexual orientation (for example, heterosexual images for a straight person), you will sort these images into the correct category faster than when “me” precedes words or images that are incongruent with your sexual orientation (for example, homosexual images for a straight person). This technique, adapted from similar tests used to assess attitudes like subconscious racial bias, reliably distinguishes between self-identified straight individuals and those who self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Using this methodology we identified a subgroup of participants who, despite self-identifying as highly straight, indicated some level of same-sex attraction (that is, they associated “me” with gay-related words and pictures faster than they associated “me” with straight-related words and pictures). Over 20 percent of self-described highly straight individuals showed this discrepancy.

Notably, these “discrepant” individuals were also significantly more likely than other participants to favor anti-gay policies; to be willing to assign significantly harsher punishments to perpetrators of petty crimes if they were presumed to be homosexual; and to express greater implicit hostility toward gay subjects (also measured with the help of subliminal priming). Thus our research suggests that some who oppose homosexuality do tacitly harbor same-sex attraction.

What leads to this repression? We found that participants who reported having supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation and less susceptible to homophobia. Individuals whose sexual identity was at odds with their implicit sexual attraction were much more frequently raised by parents perceived to be controlling, less accepting and more prejudiced against homosexuals.

It’s important to stress the obvious: Not all those who campaign against gay men and lesbians secretly feel same-sex attractions. But at least some who oppose homosexuality are likely to be individuals struggling against parts of themselves, having themselves been victims of oppression and lack of acceptance. The costs are great, not only for the targets of anti-gay efforts but also often for the perpetrators. We would do well to remember that all involved deserve our compassion.

Richard M. Ryan is a professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester. William S. Ryan is a doctoral student in psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
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Im definatly not homophobic but more of a f** hag, heart love my sisters
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So that's what my girlfriend was talking about all weekend.
Yeah you got me. I am a Lesbian trapped in a mans body.
Aline_O_Fintan's avatar

Beloved Gekko

I read this article, too! It makes so much sense, but I don't think it's going to convince the people that it's referring to, sadly. sad
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That makes a lot of sense. Awesome article!
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I guess that makes sense.
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I like the study I read years ago personally. This Study mentioned that gay men who had autopsy done had their hypothalamus compare to straight mens. Since I read that study I kept asking myself...

"Are you gay because your hypothalamus is to small or Is your hypothalamus to small because you are gay?"
Miss-dark8607's avatar

Dangerous Visionary

sexuality is on a sliding scale anyways. I'm sure if this was old timey Greece or Rome a lot of the guys in our government would have young male servants. neutral
David2074's avatar

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sexuality is on a sliding scale anyways. I'm sure if this was old timey Greece or Rome a lot of the guys in our government would have young male servants. neutral

I hadn't really thought about it that way but I suppose it could be.
There is evidence to support that people's sexual orientation is affected by hormonal levels in the body and certainly those vary on a sliding scale.

That poses an interesting question but I'm not sure how you would test it since hormone levels are not a definitive indicator of sexual orientation and in the article mentioned above, that test is not definitive either, only indicative of a trend. But suppose you could quantify it. If you took all the homophobes who gave indications of actually being suppressed gays, I wonder where they would be on that 'sliding scale'. I'm assuming not at the far right or left (gay / straight) but I wonder if the data would clump closer to the middle a bit on the gay side. Perhaps they are just 'straight enough' to be internally confused about it and at war with themselves and afraid being around queers is going to pull them over to the 'dark side'. Just a thought.

To all you super straight, homophobic 'queer bashers' out there, I do recognize many of you are straight and the study in the article did not indicate all homophobes are gay. So I'm not calling you gay. However if you are straight and you go out of your way to bash on gays and lesbians then you are an intolerant a*****e and, for many of you, probably also racist. The two often seem to go hand in hand. On the whole I'd rather have what you hate as my next door neighbor than you.
Miss-dark8607's avatar

Dangerous Visionary

sexuality is on a sliding scale anyways. I'm sure if this was old timey Greece or Rome a lot of the guys in our government would have young male servants. neutral

I hadn't really thought about it that way but I suppose it could be..

Red up on Kinsey he started the whole theory. 3nodding I'm just repeating what I learned in my gender and race class.
I'm sorry, but I just had to check the date on this article...
it''s 2012 and people are STILL saying / believing that?
But most politicians don't always believe what they say they believe.
A politician could care less about what he thinks himself,
he's going to go with the ideas that get him more votes.
So, maybe Amercia is gay...

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