Scientific American (of all things) has a story out about a new study showing that homophobes just might be closeted gay people. (Update: Apparently the Sci Am story is from last year – it’s still a good story.)
This is something a lot of us suspected for a while. I’m always intrigued when homophobes talk about a gay sexual orientation as being a “choice.” I always want to ask, “so you mean you could sleep with someone of the same-sex, find them sexually attractive, you just choose not to?”
In fact, there have been several bloopers, as it were, where unwitting homophobes, thinking that everyone has same-sex attractions, admit it publicly, only to get odd looks from the other folks in the panel discussion. (And before anyone says “everyone is attracted to both” – I’m not. I’m attracted to guys, that’s it. So I’m willing to believe that there are straight people who are only attracted to the opposite gender.)
In any case, back to the study. One of the funnier findings was that people with controlling parents tended to be closet cases. “Participants who reported supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation, meaning it tended to jibe with their outward sexual orientation. Students who indicated they came from authoritarian homes showed the biggest discrepancy between the two measures of sexual orientation.”
I chuckle at this since the faux-scientists of the religious right, the ones who claim they can cure gays with prayer, like to claim that gay men were created by absent fathers and over-bearing mothers. So now the actual research is showing that closet-case homophobes are the ones created by over-bearing parents. Ha!
Sci-Am cuts to the chase:
The research may help to explain the underpinnings of anti-gay bullying and hate crimes, the researchers note. People in denial about their own sexual orientation, perhaps a denial fostered by authoritarian and homophobic parents, may feel a threat from other gay and lesbian individuals. Lashing out may ultimately be an indicator of the person’s own internal conflict with sexual orientation.
This inner conflict can be seen in some high-profile cases in which anti-gay public figures are caught engaging in same-sex acts, the researchers say. For instance, evangelical preacher and anti-gay-marriage advocate Ted Haggard was caught in a gay sex scandal in 2006. And in 2010, prominent anti-gay activist and co-founder of conservative Family Research Council George Rekers was reportedly spotted in 2010 with a male escort rented from Rentboy.com. According to news reports, the escort confirmed Rekers is gay.