Homophobia and the Emotional Element.


It has been speculated for many years that those who are aggressively hostile toward gays are in fact repressing latent homosexuality. Several researchers of sociology and psychology have devised and carried out studies to either prove or disprove this impression. Amos Zeichner and Dennis E. Reidy from the University of Georgia presented to the American Psychological Association the result of the study carried out by them and their team. This study examined the emotional components involved in defining homophobia.  Independent author Keay Nigel for the website Elite Daily reports on other research about this topic. Professor Richard Ryan and graduate student William S. Ryan performed a similar study which they presented to the New York Times. The results are in. If you are homophobic you may be gay.

An effort to understand the aggressive nature of some homophobic males gave rise to various surveys. The main idea was to recruit, through a process of elimination, a group of identifying homophobic men, who self-reported that they were not aroused by homosexual activity. (Zeichner 232) Upon isolation, the men were split into two groups. One group was exposed to homosexual and the other group was exposed to heterosexual erotic media and measured physiological as well as psychological responses were recorded. Zeichner states “despite evidence of physiological sexual arousal, sexually prejudiced men did not report sexual arousal to the homosexual erotic material” (232). The Ryan’s agree, finding that,despite evidence of physiological sexual arousal, sexually prejudiced men did not report sexual arousal to the homosexual erotic material, holding fast to the findings Zeichner and his team had found. Despite minor variations of methods, results are comparably similar. Keay Say’s “All participants reported a history of having only been aroused in heterosexual situations” reporting on several studies performed at multiple facilities, all participants within all studies performed held this same position. The different presenters claim this was evident across all studies.

“Our research suggests that some who oppose homosexuality do tacitly harbor same-sex attraction, ” say’s Ryan. Across all of the studies which have reported on this subject, the evidence is compelling, pointing toward a negative aggressive conjugate response during exposure.

“During the videos, the men had [sic] devices attached to their penis’s [sic] to detect and measure sexual arousal. The results concluded that both homophobic and non-homophobic men displayed increased penis circumference when watching straight and lesbian porn. However, only the homophobic men showed heightened penis arousal during the gay male porn; the non-homophobic men remained flaccid” reported Keay.

Upon examining the results of multiple studies she concluded the similarities were extraordinary regarding the same behavioral characteristics. It can be understood that some of those who are hostile toward homosexuals are in fact harboring feelings that are opposite of which they report.

Then why are they hostile to gays?

“Homophobia is an emotional or affective response, including fear, anxiety, anger, discomfort and aversion that an individual may experience in interacting with gay individuals, which may or may not involve a cognitive component” (Nigel).

Comparatively these results are remarkably similar from study to study.

These accounts suggest; either they’re unaware of their feelings or, they project their self-hate. Zeichner states “Regardless of their motivations, denial of the arousal may well be linked to perceived threat generated by male homosexuality.” All studies recorded negative aggressive conjugate responses from the homophobes. Many reasons exist resulting in prejudices.’ Some judge homosexuality negatively on cultural or religious beliefs. Prejudices exist across a multidimensional plane, from racism to homosexuality, it is part of the “human condition.” Research proved homophobes behave negatively to homosexuals because of “fear”. The homophobe simultaneously “understands” and “denies” his physiological response to the stimuli. Confused internally, he now directs his attention to the homosexual as the cause of his distress. The homophobes’ “self-preservation instinct” (Ryan) may result in an aggressive act toward the homosexual.

“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” (RYAN). In today’s society efforts exist to abolish the world from such fears that stem from irrational illogical thinking.  The difficulty of ratifying the inherited prejudices requires thoughtful and compassionate tactics. “By being afraid to “come out,” the homophobic emerges as a strongly anti-gay person instead. The case of intolerance toward others may actually be a case of intolerance toward one’s true self” (Nigel). These findings, based off of multiple studies bear remarkable similarities. Homophobic men, while claiming not to be aroused by homosexual activity, are aroused by such stimuli. The overall consensus is that, while some are haters of homosexuals (those who abhor the homosexual from beliefs which are the result of cultural, religious or other conditioning) the real homophobic is, in fact, one who harbors psychosis resulting from confusion or another similar mental state. The reality is that homophobes are in fact aroused by homosexual activity. This is a state which the homophobe may or may not identify with or even recognize.

How might we help these individuals come to terms with their true selves? What measures must we take to help prevent violent assaults against those who are openly homosexual? Is it possible to transform homophobic men into individuals who accept others for who they are versus the aggressive attitude which others invoke within them? If we were to perform these same studies with lesbians might they present similar results?

Works Cited

Nigel, Keay. “World.” 7 January 2014. Elite Daily. Web Page. 12 April 2016. <http://elitedaily.com/news/world/homophobic-men-aroused-gay-male-porn-surprised/&gt;.

RYAN, RICHARD M. RYAN and WILLIAM S. ” Gray Matter– Sunday Review–.” 27 April 2012. The New York Times. Web page. 12 April 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/opinion/sunday/homophobic-maybe-youre-gay.html&gt;.

Zeichner, Amos, Reidy, Dennis E. ” Are Homophobic Men Attracted to or Repulsed by Homosexual Men? Effects of Gay Male Erotica on Anger, Fear, Happiness, and Disgust.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity, American Psychiatric Association (2009): 231-236. Document.




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