We’ve seen it dozens of times: the politician or preacher who is the most vocal about his objection to what they call the homosexual lifestyle is caught in a compromising position with another man. A new study shows that perhaps these occurrences aren’t just hypocritical, homophobia itself is more often than not a defense mechanism against self-hatred. From USA Today:
The new study uses “modern methods that allow us to more reliably peer into these less explicitly available parts of peoples’ psyches and see what’s arising…”
Among those methods: studies that measure discrepancies between what people say about their sexual orientation and how they react during split-second timed tasks. Study subjects — four groups of about 160 college students each, in the USA and Germany — also rated the attractiveness of people in same-sex or opposite-sex photos and answered questions about the type of parenting they experienced growing up, from authoritarian to democratic, as well as homophobia at home.
Researchers also measured homophobia — both overt, as expressed in questionnaires on social policy and beliefs, and unconscious, as revealed in word-completion tasks.
The findings suggest participants with accepting parents were more in touch with their innate sexual orientation. But, Ryan says, “if you come from a controlling home where your parents do have negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians, you’re even more likely to suppress same-sex attraction and more likely to have this discrepancy that leads to having homophobia and feeling threatened.”
Makes a little bit too much sense, doesn’t it? Yet if homophobia comes from self-hatred, what can we do about it as a society? Simply turning to those who express anti-gay sentiments and accusing them of being gay themselves doesn’t sound like the best solution, and attempts to intervene on parenting techniques ultimately draw accusations of “thought policing.” So in light of these findings, what is the best way to fight homophobia?