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What’s Behind the Hate?
Have you ever wondered why some heterosexual men are so vocal about their hate for gays? Researchers are say that fear, anxiety and aversion that some heterosexuals have toward homosexuals may grow out of their very own repressed same-sex desires.
Gay black men know all too well of the sting of dirty looks, whispers, and social isolation is school, church, and sadly for some within their own families. All too often, Black gays and lesbians are invisible for safety reasons, although nearly 5% of African Americans responded “yes” when asked if they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, per a recent survey report.
“Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” says lead author Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex.
Students in the study were shown words and pictures on a computer screen and asked to put these in “gay” or “straight” categories. Before each of the 50 trials, participants were subliminally primed with either the word “me” or “others” flashed on the screen for 35 milliseconds. They were then shown the words “gay,” “straight,” “homosexual,” and “heterosexual” as well as pictures of straight and gay couples, and the computer tracked precisely their response times.
A second experiment – looked at a series of questionnaires, participants reported on the type of parenting they experienced growing up, from authoritarian to democratic. Then the researcher measured participants’ level of homophobia — both overt, as expressed in questionnaires on social policy and beliefs, and implicit, as revealed in word-completion tasks.
“In a predominately heterosexual society, ‘know thyself’ can be a challenge for many gay individuals. But in controlling and homophobic homes, embracing a minority sexual orientation can be terrifying,” Weinstein said. “These individuals risk losing the love and approval of their parents if they admit to same sex attractions, so many people deny or repress that part of themselves.”
Study co-author Richard Ryan of University of Rochester and colleagues at the University of Essex in England and the University of California, Santa Barbara, said they conducted four separate experiments in the United States and Germany, each with an average of 160 college students.
The findings were published in Personality and Social Psychology.