Homophobia is gay, to quote Dan Savage. A study conducted in 1996 found that homophobic men responded favorably downstairs when viewing “male homosexual” “erotic stimuli.” They were shown gay, straight and lesbian “stimuli,” and while both the homophobic and non-homophobic men became aroused during the straight and lesbian material, only the antigay men were aroused during the gay imagery.
“Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies,” the abstract of that study reads.
Now a new study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, is backing up that conclusion. It found that those with negative attitudes toward gay men appeared to be more interested in gay imagery than the men in the study who did not have those homophobic feelings.
38 heterosexual men from the University of Geneva took a survey to quantify their feelings on gay men. They then completed a computerized test known as a manikin task to determine what their unconscious, impulsive tendencies are toward homosexual imagery.
Study participants move a small image of a human figure on a computer, either towards or away from a specific stimuli in the center of the screen. With this task, researchers can measure approach and avoidance behavior.
The antigay men spent longer looking at images of homosexual couples than they did looking at heterosexual couples.
“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.”
Lead author Boris Cheval, of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, told PsyPost it is currently hard to tell how big of a role suppressed gay attraction plays in the formation of antigay attitudes.
Both studies had small sample sizes. Hopefully more research will be done in this field to give us more ammo against the antigay haters.