"Homophobia is Based in Arousal" WOW!?

WOW! I was just having a chat with a colleague and we were talking about being homophobic. I was telling him that he is in fact extremely homophobic. Anytime someone even mentions anything having to do with a gay person he has some kind of lude remark.[fag, homo, flamer etc…etc…] Well I, the smart ass I am, told him that he was homophobic. And on top of that, told him homophobia was based in arousal. Actually, I was quite happy with myself for remembering a study I read years ago in Grad school. Actually it is a decently famous study conducted at the University of Georgia, the study empirically measures homophobic responses.

Check it out and see for yourself. It is quite interesting. With out going into too much detail the study actually gathers empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that homophobia is in fact based in arousal. I have to laugh a little, because my friend upon seeing this turned a little white. He is one of the most homophobic people I know. It may have something to do with the fact he was raised by his father only, I doubt that had much to do with it but who knows. Anyway he is a bachelor in his thirties and very homophobic. I on the other hand am married and not homophobic at all, I could care less what ones sexual orientation is. But it is quite interesting to see the way certain people behave towards anothers sexual orientation. Question(s):

Why do people care what sexual orientaion another has?
Could homophobic people be secretly gay, according to this article? What could the reprocussions be if this study was infact correct?

Also, safety tip: Don’t show this article to those who are severely homophobic, unless the appropriate amount of sedatives has been administered…:slight_smile:

As I said before, I’m convinced that Stockwell Day’s main problem is that he secretly wants to get it up the ass from Svend Robinson. Matter of fact, he and I have a lot in common. :smiley:

But enough of this foolishness. I’m sure that there are a lot of people who are homophobic because they’re afraid of their own positive score on the Kinsey scale; but it’s probably not the only explanation. Machismo is such a fragile thing that it doesn’t take the full flower of hidden homosexuality to make someone so insecure he has to beat up on those he perceives to be weaker than he. And then of course there’s religious conviction, although my experience is that that usually leads to more talk (and political unpleasantness) than physical violence.

Note that your link specifically mentions a competing theory: Anxiety.

Clearly, there are some homosexuals who attempt to deny it by being homophobic (on the surface). However, I (and my candy liberal a**) don’t believe that that explains all of them.

Certainly there are people who have been taught all their life that it is a sin/disgusting/etc. It’s folly to assume that is because they are all homosexual.

(in the same way very few people assume that racists are actually sexually attracted to those they are racist against. )

As for why people care – look at previous discussions. My only commentary is that some people believe unadvanced societies need pariahs and scapegoats. Why gays instead of lefties is just our culture.


What is important to keep in mind (& what posters seem to have missed) is that the study is not about anyone who might be defined as “homophobe”. Rather about those who have “fear, anxiety, anger, discomfort and aversion” towards homosexuals. This would not necessary apply to holders of various moral and political beliefs.

Err, Izzy, homophobia is defined as an aversion to gays or their lifestyle or culture.

I don’t know how it is defined. But the way it is being used here seems to be people who have some sort of psycological hangup about gays, as opposed to an intellectual one. This is not necessarily common usage.

Sorry, you’re right . . . I misread is as “fear etc. or aversion.”

The dictionary definition of homophobia is as I said. Fear is not a requirement, really, just aversion.

However, I have met very few people with moral objections to homosexuals who were not also angered, repulsed, or discomforted by them.

(And I’m sure you’ll agree that politics is not a cause of homophobia.)

Dr. Laura is quite comfortable with those sicko pervs. Don’t you listen to her?

The study mentioned in the OP does not surprise me, especially when anxiety is tossed into the mix, as MeCorva pointed out.

I liken it to a fear of heights: Those with acrophobia are often the same people who would have an urge to jump, when on a high platform. This does not mean they actually want to jump. Those who have no such urge have no reason to develop a phobia, except for intellectually percieved (rather than instinctual) dangers.

So with homophobia, the person might imagine themselves indulging in a homosexual act, yet still have no desire to actually perform that act, or even be disgusted by it. Those people who do not have such a reaction to homosexuality are far less likely to form negative opinions of it.

Well, of course she’s an exception . . .

I have known several enormous homophobes to later come out of the closet.

One of them was even in the KKK. I would say that some homophobes are repressing feelings, but certainly not all.

Quick, let’s have the “homophobia” etymological discussion yet again! It’s been, what, an entire month? :rolleyes:

Another good book I have in my collection is Baiters, Bashers & Bigots: Homophobia in American Society, a collection of studies regarding homophobia and homophobes. The best chapter was “Fear of Male Homosexuality: Cardiac Responses of Low and High Homonegative Males,” which also dealt with physiological reactions of homophobic men to homoerotic response. I remember the study’s conclusions being rather interesting, but now I can’t remember what exactly it was. Time to do some re-reading, methinks…


When I was a teenager, there was this guy that I used to hav sex with. I was out of the closet to most of my friends, he was out to almost no one. I would go so far as to make homphobic comments and jokes in my presence around people who knew I was gay. I am not sure why I played along (poor self esteem I guess) He would really say some of the most horrible things.

The last I heard he was a primitive baptist youth minister, married to the half-sister of one of the guys he used to sleep with, and dealing drugs on the side.

I really wish I was making this up.

My own read on this is that some people are homophobic out of denial of their own sexuality, some are homophobic because they saw parents be homophobic, others are because of religious/moral beliefs, other simply because they have difficulty with people whos’ perspective is different from their own. Lots of people are intolerant (not only of homosexuality) in many different ways for many different reasons.

Okay, let’s imagine a scientist tells you, “Okay now, we’re going to attach electrodes to your schlong, and show you gay porno movies, to monitor your reaction.”

I don’t know about you, but my reaction would be “Oh no you’re not!” I would be out of there in a heartbeat.

You think a GENUINE homophobe is going to stick around one second? Even when I was a dead-broke college student, I was never THAT hard-up for cash!

As it were.

And of course, there’s another possible cause for homophobia that wasn’t mentioned: trauma.

I know of two men - one of them is my father - who can intellectually respond to the idea of homosexuality with tolerance, but on an emotional level have a very strong aversion, repulsion, and dislike.

My father, while he was a young man in the Navy, encountered persistent propositions that would be considered sexual harrassment today and even had to fend off men intent on having sex with him. He witnessed a man in sick bay molesting an unconcious sailor on the pretext of giving the sailor a sponge bath. The other man was molested as a pre-adolescent by a teenage boy. He doesn’t identify the attack as pedophiliac but as homosexual. Because neither of them are homosexual, I suspect they have never had any motivation to confront the aversion these episodes led to (unlike, for instance, a woman, sexually assaulted by a man, who feels the need to conquer her aversion to men because she is married or has a male lover and wants to share intimacy with him. [There must be a better way to parse that sentence. Anyone?]).

My father is hypersensitive when it comes to homosexuality and homosexuals. He doesn’t hate gay men (and he has never spared a moment’s notice for lesbians), but they sure as hell make him uncomfortable. The other man I mentioned appears to be the same to me. I strongly doubt that there’s any element of arousal in his reaction.

And should anyone try to misconstrue what I’ve written - yes, there are gay men who are predators; just as there are straight men, lesbians, heterosexual women, bi-sexuals, and asexuals of all types who are predators. I have seen nothing that leads me to believe that one orientation or another is more prone to such despicable behavior.

Check this out.

In the “oh, they’ve got to be repressed homosexuals” category of homophobe, there’s Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute. As detailed in this Rolling Stone article, Cameron is a major “authority” within the anti-gay religious right movement. But, if you listen to what he’s actually saying, it truly does sound like he’s sending a different message (emphasis added):

The repression idea is something that wouldn’t surprise me at all were it shown to be always true. Comes down to it, I’d really like to believe it, because it’s rather more hopeful (after all, there’s always hope that people can sort their sexual identities out) than my own alternate theory, which is:

Some people are simply jerks.