As I See It Opinion

What homophobes really think about gays

Written by Richard Hack

It’s just like our mothers always said: The bigger the gay bully, the more likely they’re gay.  And while that logic may work to soothe the minds of the bullied, it certainly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you think about it logically. Or so we always thought until the Journal of Sexual Medicine published its latest findings on the subject.

The Journal labels itself “The Official Journal of the International Society of Sexual Medicine” which sounds rather self-important, but apparently there is such an organization based in the Netherlands, and presided over by an elected president—currently a professor of urology at Tulane University in New Orleans.

A study recently reported in the Journal, titled Homophobia: An Impulsive Attraction to the Same Sex?had us glued to the pages. The report studied 38 heterosexual male students from the University of Geneva who first were given a survey to determine the extent of their homophobia. Apparently, there’s quite a lot of that going around in Geneva, because a good ¾ of the guys seemed to be homophobes.

Both the bigots and the could-care-less straights were then shown a series of homosexual visuals—both videos and photos. And just as the old-wives tale suggested, the men who held the most negative attitudes about homosexuality showed the highest interest in the material–far more than that shown by less anti-bigoted men.

Dr. Boris Cheval, a PhD from Switzerland University of Geneva, who was the lead author of the study, said that his study confirmed previous research that found that about half of the anti-gay men became sexually aroused when shown erotic homosexual videos.

“Nevertheless, I think that others studies are needed to correctly evaluate the importance of this denied attraction,” Cheval remarked. Cheval leaves no bully unturned.

It was then that Cheval and his researchers make the participants take a computerized test known as a manikin task, clinically designed to measure unconscious, impulsive tendency toward homosexual images. Sort of like a lie-detector for the eyes.

In all, there were 12 practice trials and 64 test trials in which the men rated 20 pictures of gay and straight couples on a 9-point scale from “very unpleasant” to “very pleasant.”

During this portion of the experiment, the participants wore eye-tracking equipment to precisely measure how long they looked at each photograph.

It was a “gotcha” moment for Cheval and his colleagues who found that anti-gay men tended to spend more time looking at the homosexual photographs than the heterosexual photographs. And the bigger the bully, the longer the lingering over those gay pics.

On the other hand, straight men who did not hold anti-gay views didn’t look at homosexual photographs and longer than their heterosexual counterpart pics.

“Findings on the viewing time allow understanding why some (but not all) men high in homophobia have a sexual interest in same-sex individuals,” the researchers concluded. “This study provides a better understanding of the psychological processes involved in the processing of erotic gay material among men high in homophobia, and provides a fine-grained prediction of sexual related behaviors.”

The researchers acknowledged their findings are limited by their small sample size, and that it would have been useful to measure stress and anxiety to see how this was affecting the results. They concede that there is always the possibility that just the stress of looking a gay imagery influences their behavior.  Dah, no doubt.

These limitations and complexities aside, the researchers concluded that their findings provide more evidence consistent with the idea that “some men high in homophobia indeed have a sexual interest toward homosexual stimuli.”

Just like your mother told you all along.