Although many have had suspicions about people who are strongly homophobic actually being gay themselves, now there is proof thanks to a new study. In fact a US/UK team found that heterosexuals tend to be less homophobic than people with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and with authoritarian, anti-gay parents.
Internalized homophobia often strikes outward towards gay people who are “out”.
According to Richard Ryan, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester, in many cases these are people are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward. In a series of experiments, researchers measured the discrepancies between what people said about their sexual orientation and how they reacted during split-second timed tasks, or when shown same-sex and opposite-sex photos.
Through questionnaires, people also reported on the type of parenting they’d had, from authoritarian to democratic, and on the level of homophobia in the household. The participants’ homophobia – both overt and implicit, as revealed in word-completion tasks – was also measured.
Homophobia due to authoritarian households.
In every study, participants from authoritarian homes showed the biggest discrepancy between explicit and implicit attraction. Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex shared this observation.
”In a predominantly heterosexual society, ‘know thyself’ can be a challenge for many gay individuals. But in controlling and homophobic homes, embracing a minority sexual orientation can be terrifying,”
In addition, those people who reported themselves to be more heterosexual than their performance on the reaction time task indicated were most likely to be hostile to gay people.
Researchers hope this study will help those with homophobia to consider the root of their fear.
“This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, ‘Why?’” says Researcher Ryan. “Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection.”
If only we could send this study to ever anti-gay politician in America, they may stop acting so…gay.