People who say they are repulsed by gay
people are often repressing their own same-sex attraction, a new
study has found.
A team of researchers in New York,
Essex and California found evidence that homophobes are likely afraid
of gay men and lesbians because they remind them of themselves.
The research will be published in the
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, ScienceDaily.com
“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,” said Netta
Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study's lead
“In many cases these are people who
are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal
conflict outward,” added Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at
the University of Rochester.
The researchers based their findings on
a series of experiments on students in the United States and Germany.
They found that participants with
authoritarian parents were less in touch with their implicit sexual
“In a predominately 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,” explained Weinstein. “These
individuals risk losing the love and approval of their parents if
they admit to same sex attractions, so many people deny or repress
that part of themselves.”
Pointing to the murders of Matthew
Shepard and Lawrence
King, Ryan noted that “Homophobia is not a laughing matter.”
“We laugh at or make fun of such
blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often
themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated
feelings of threat,” he said.