Is homophobia expressed by people who does not accept their homosexuality? It is an interesting question. We often jokes when we read homophobe remarks, we often say the person is gay but does not accept it.
A study gives answers concerning the origin of homophobia: parenting and sexual orientation.
The Universities of Rochester, of Essex, and the University of California conducted a study in order to find the reasons of homophobia.
A person who grows thinking homosexuality is evil may be homosexual. This person will reject its desire "in the formation of intense and visceral fear of homosexuals, including self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies."
It would also seem that parents education is another cause.
"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," explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study's lead author.
"In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward," adds co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.
The University of Rochester reports the study lists the facts of several anti-gay people who opposed LGBTQ bills like gay marriage before to learn that they were having gay relationships like Ted Haggard, the evangelical preacher who opposed gay marriage but was exposed in a gay sex scandal in 2006, and Glenn Murphy, Jr., former chairman of the Young Republican National Federation and vocal opponent of gay marriage, who was accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old man in 2007.
"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," says Ryan. "Homophobia is not a laughing matter. It can sometimes have tragic consequences," Ryan says, pointing to cases such as the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard or the 2011 shooting of Larry King.
It explains also that during the study, the researchers measured the discrepancies between what people say about their sexual orientation and how they react during a split-second timed task. Students were shown words and pictures on a computer screen and asked to put these in "gay" or "straight" categories. Before each of the 50 trials, participants were subliminally primed with either the word "me" or "others" flashed on the screen for 35 milliseconds. They were then shown the words "gay," "straight," "homosexual," and "heterosexual" as well as pictures of straight and gay couples, and the computer tracked precisely their response times. A faster association of "me" with "gay" and a slower association of "me" with "straight" indicated an implicit gay orientation.
A second experiment, in which subjects were free to browse same-sex or opposite-sex photos, provided an additional measure of implicit sexual attraction.
Through a series of questionnaires, participants also reported on the type of parenting they experienced growing up, from authoritarian to democratic. Students were asked to agree or disagree with statements like: "I felt controlled and pressured in certain ways," and "I felt free to be who I am." For gauging the level of homophobia in a household, subjects responded to items like: "It would be upsetting for my mom to find out she was alone with a lesbian" or "My dad avoids gay men whenever possible."
Finally, the researcher measured participants' level of homophobia – both overt, as expressed in questionnaires on social policy and beliefs, and implicit, as revealed in word-completion tasks. In the latter, students wrote down the first three words that came to mind, for example for the prompt "k i _ _". The study tracked the increase in the amount of aggressive words elicited after subliminally priming subjects with the word "gay" for 35 milliseconds.
Let's conclude with this question and answer of Richard Ryan:
"If you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, 'Why?'"
"Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection."