Could homophobes secretly be gay?


Yesterday I had a very heated discussion about gay marriage with a group of blokes. Some of the arguments against were straight out of the top ten reasons to oppose gay marriage.

As is often the way I was reading up looking for posts to today and found something entirely related to my discussions…I think it may explain some of the more stupid excuses for opposing gay marriage:

Why have some of America’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 one to 10 (one means completely straight; five 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 characterised 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.