A classic case of ‘the lady doth protest too much, methinks…’
Homophobes could be attracted to people of the same sex but are not admitting it to themselves, a series of psychology studies has found.
Researchers in New York, Essex and California say they’ve found evidence that gays and lesbians remind homophobes of themselves – which is why they develop an intense aversion and fear of them.
They claim homophobic people tend to repress their true sexuality as they’ve often been brought up in families where being gay is not acceptable.
Psychology professor Richard Ryan, who helped with the research, said in many cases homophobic people are ‘at war’ with themselves over the issue and ‘are turning the internal conflict outward’.
Researchers reached their conclusions following four experiments, each using 160 students in the U.S. and Germany.
They measured differences between what people said about their sexuality compared to how they reacted during a timed task where they had to look at words and pictures associated with being gay or straight.
Then they were quizzed on their upbringing and were invited to look at pictures of homosexual or heterosexual couples. Conscious and subconscious levels of homophobia were measured using words and images.
The study supports theories by Professor Ryan and Edward Dici, at the University of Rochester in New York, that links controlling parenting to a difficulty in accepting oneself.
They found that people with supportive parents were better at accepting their sexuality.
The authors say the findings might help to explain why bullying and hate crimes are directed at gays and lesbians.
They say some homophobes who have not accepted their true sexuality may feel the urge to hit out at homosexuals who fear might bring their repressed desires to the surface.
The authors point to some anti-gay figures who go on to engage in same-sex sexual acts, such as Ted Haggard, an evangelical preacher who was against gay marriage but was exposed in a gay sex scandal in 2006, Science Daily said.
The research will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology later this month.
Source: Daily Mail