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Are homophobes secretly gay? A new study purports to prove it.

Posted by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 9:45 PM
  • 14 Replies

Homo Say What?

Are homophobes secretly gay? A new study purports to prove it.

Ted Haggard
Ted Haggard

Photograph by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.

Why have some of the nation's most vehement anti-gay activists—Ted Haggard, Larry Craig—had gay sex scandals of their own? An op-ed in the New York Times' Sunday Review section tries to explain. The authors of the piece, two research psychologists, say they have "empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire." Their argument—summed up in the Times headline as "Homophobic? Maybe You're Gay"—promises to resolve a long-running debate in the field. For at least 15 years, scientists have been trying to use objective laboratory measures to prove the he-who-smelt-it-dealt-it theory of human sexuality. Has a research team based at the University of Rochester finally done it?

The new study works like an elaborate game of "homo say what?": Evidence of private, homosexual urges is elicited by subtle verbal cues. The researchers start by asking college freshmen, mostly women, to rate their sexual orientation on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 means completely straight; 5 means bisexual; 10 means totally gay) and then to say how much they agree with politically charged statements like, "Gay people make me nervous" and "I would feel uncomfortable having a gay roommate." Once the students have been characterized according to their relative degrees of gayness and homophobia, they're shown a series of icons or photos of wedding-cake figurines on a computer monitor—two women, two men, or a man with a woman—and told to label each one as being "gay" or "straight." In a final twist, some of the "gay" and "straight" images are preceded on the screen by a subliminal verbal cue—a word flashed quickly on the screen that reads either me or others. If seeing the word me shortens a student's reaction time for the gay-themed imagery, it's taken as a sign of her implicit homosexuality. On a subconscious level, at least, she's associating the word me with gayness.

Many researchers have used setups like this one—known as an "implicit association test"—to dig up evidence of covert inclinations or even racial prejudice. The idea is that it takes people less time to make connections between words or images when those connections conform to prior beliefs. A person might respond more quickly to the word blue if she'd been cued with the word sky, or—more disturbing—she might be faster on the word man after being cued with the word president. The Rochester team adapted this idea for their measure of sexuality: A student's secret gay identity could be revealed by testing whether she responded more quickly to me-cued gay pictures than to me-cued straight ones.

Applying this logic, the researchers found that among the college freshmen in their study, more than one-fifth of those who described themselves as very straight showed signs of covert homosexuality on the me-cued trials. And these "discrepant" (secretly gay) students happened to be the ones most likely to have expressed anti-gay sentiments on the pre-test survey.

Should we trust this interpretation of the data? In the Times op-ed, the authors claim that the reaction-time task "reliably distinguishes between self-identified straight individuals and those who self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual." Their formal write-up of the work for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology is a bit less sanguine on the method, citing just one other study that has used this approach, and saying it "showed moderate correspondence with participants’ self-reported sexual orientation."

Whatever the precedents, their homo-say-what task leaves itself open to an easy, alternative interpretation. It could be that both gay people and homophobic straight people responded more quickly to the gay-themed imagery because they were all secretly gay. Or it could be that both gay people and homophobic straight people are more keyed up by gayness in general. A homosexual might be more attuned to a picture of two men because it aligns with his personal interests—no surprise there. But a homophobe would be more attuned to it for the opposite reason: It runs counter to his personal interests; it makes him nervous. The sociologist Michael Kimmel has argued that some men are less afraid of gay people than they are of being labeled as gay (and thus emasculated) themselves. By that logic, me-gay pairings would be particularly nerve-racking to true homophobes. And it's well-known that these two factors—salience and anxiety—tend to shrink reaction times. People get a little speedy when something upsets them, or turns them on.

to read the rest:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/04/homophobic_maybe_you_re_gay_the_new_york_times_on_a_new_study_of_secret_sexuality_.html?fb_ref=sm_fb_plugin_activity

by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 9:45 PM
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Replies (1-10):
futureshock
by Ruby Member on Apr. 30, 2012 at 9:46 PM
3 moms liked this

lol

And water is wet.  :)

eviesmom453
by Bronze Member on Apr. 30, 2012 at 9:49 PM

I didn't read the article, just the title. 

My bff's SO claimed to be the biggest homophobe ever. After they broke up my bff told me he would make her watch gay porn and she caught him calling gay chatlines several times.

jllcali
by Jane on Apr. 30, 2012 at 10:00 PM
LOL at the he-who-smelt-it-dealt-it theory of human sexuality.

I wish I could remember where I read the study where men were given questionnaires regarding sexual orientation, then shown porn, both straight and gay, and were monitored for heart rate, breathing and erections, and the men who had a bigger reaction to the gay porn had more anti gay answers on the questionnaire.
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andiemomo3
by Andie on Apr. 30, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Well, yeah. Right?

Wait - but does this mean if I dislike a style of dress or haircut, or maybe a certain "way" a person is, then I'm just jealous because I secretly want to be like them? Or secretly AM like them and just afraid to show it?
stormcris
by Christy on Apr. 30, 2012 at 10:18 PM

They say people are loudest in opposition to what they hate about themselves. *shrug*

It seems to be true much of the time. That saying is not about a person who merely dislikes something or wants to change something but the people who go so far overboard against it. Then again I am not sure if Kirk Cameron is merely in the closet or simply insane. 

Kate_Momof3
by Silver Member on May. 1, 2012 at 6:49 AM

I read this in the New York Times on Sunday. Color me shocked. lol. 

Kate_Momof3
by Silver Member on May. 1, 2012 at 6:52 AM
1 mom liked this

I have always thought Kirk Cameron was flaming under those curls. I could never understand the big deal about him when I was in middle school ('cause I'm that old). I preferred the more dangerous types like Johnny Depp and River Pheonix.

Quoting stormcris:

They say people are loudest in opposition to what they hate about themselves. *shrug*

It seems to be true much of the time. That saying is not about a person who merely dislikes something or wants to change something but the people who go so far overboard against it. Then again I am not sure if Kirk Cameron is merely in the closet or simply insane. 


romalove
by Roma on May. 1, 2012 at 6:57 AM


Quoting Kate_Momof3:

I have always thought Kirk Cameron was flaming under those curls. I could never understand the big deal about him when I was in middle school ('cause I'm that old). I preferred the more dangerous types like Johnny Depp and River Pheonix.

Quoting stormcris:

They say people are loudest in opposition to what they hate about themselves. *shrug*

It seems to be true much of the time. That saying is not about a person who merely dislikes something or wants to change something but the people who go so far overboard against it. Then again I am not sure if Kirk Cameron is merely in the closet or simply insane. 


I'm even older, and while I didn't have a crush on him, I always thought he was adorable.  

You like the bad guys because you're a bad girl.  :-)

Kate_Momof3
by Silver Member on May. 1, 2012 at 7:01 AM

'This true, dear Roma. They are irresistable. I wish one of them had lured Kirk out of the closet long ago with a little whiskey and some pot. Maybe then, I would find him marginally attractive (I'm attracted to honesty).

Quoting romalove:


Quoting Kate_Momof3:

I have always thought Kirk Cameron was flaming under those curls. I could never understand the big deal about him when I was in middle school ('cause I'm that old). I preferred the more dangerous types like Johnny Depp and River Pheonix.

Quoting stormcris:

They say people are loudest in opposition to what they hate about themselves. *shrug*

It seems to be true much of the time. That saying is not about a person who merely dislikes something or wants to change something but the people who go so far overboard against it. Then again I am not sure if Kirk Cameron is merely in the closet or simply insane. 


I'm even older, and while I didn't have a crush on him, I always thought he was adorable.  

You like the bad guys because you're a bad girl.  :-)


romalove
by Roma on May. 1, 2012 at 7:02 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Kate_Momof3:

'This true, dear Roma. They are irresistable. I wish one of them had lured Kirk out of the closet long ago with a little whiskey and some pot. Maybe then, I would find him marginally attractive (I'm attracted to honesty).

Quoting romalove:


Quoting Kate_Momof3:

I have always thought Kirk Cameron was flaming under those curls. I could never understand the big deal about him when I was in middle school ('cause I'm that old). I preferred the more dangerous types like Johnny Depp and River Pheonix.

Quoting stormcris:

They say people are loudest in opposition to what they hate about themselves. *shrug*

It seems to be true much of the time. That saying is not about a person who merely dislikes something or wants to change something but the people who go so far overboard against it. Then again I am not sure if Kirk Cameron is merely in the closet or simply insane. 


I'm even older, and while I didn't have a crush on him, I always thought he was adorable.  

You like the bad guys because you're a bad girl.  :-)


I may have a midlife crisis later this year, and run away, lured by the promise of some whiskey and a bad, bad boy.....

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