Study Shows Homophobic Male College Students Attracted To Gay Imagery


men kissing
Two men kissing. Photo by See-ming Lee, CC 2.0.

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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Baba Booey Fafa Fooey

    Good. More research. I like this.

  • Dave Downunder

    This theory has been around for years. How many more studies need to be done to prove the same point.

    • smartalec

      How about until the people who keep posting vile comments pretty much *every*where finally come to understand that whenever they do so, they’re actually saying to the world, as loudly and clearly as possible:
      “I am gay, but cannot accept that, so am trying — desperately and ineffectively — to work out my issues by being hostile and hateful to those like myself, but free and open about it. Please, for the love of God, save me from myself! I just wanna be loved — and I express that by hating on others! Now, is that really so wrong?? (I mean, I guess it is, but c’mon now! What else can I do?) Help me, please!”

  • Kangol

    I say it all the time: hom0phobes and anti-gay people obsessed with gay people and gay sex can’t deal with their own gay desires. That’s why a basic question journalists should ask every raving homophobe is: are you a closet case? Why are you obsessed with gay people and gay sex if you’re straight?

  • Bauhaus

    Screamers are the worst!


    Yay! It’s now officially okay to worship those hot straight homophobes…because they’re gay!!!! Imma fight Baba Booey Fafs Fooey for Theodore Shoebat

  • martinbakman

    @Dave Downunder: Yes even Shakespeare admitted when the lady doth protest too much.

    I assume they were trying to measure outcomes to prove a specific hypothesis. One would have to read the actual hypothesis to understand what knowledge they were after. Outside of scholastic journalists, the internet and cable news wouldn’t have time for that kind of detail in their sound bites and click bait.

    For me you can never have enough data because it just brings more information and knowledge.

  • Pistolo

    Well, if you’re a homophobe and being gay is the worst thing in the world…is this any different than people being interested in crime, natural disaster, oddities, etc? They don’t “like” these things, it’s not what they’d participate in but they’re interested in it. People are interested in things they’re afraid of- that doesn’t mean a person’s sexuality can be determined by such things.

    I think it’s a stupid crutch to say “all homophobes are gay”- if that were the case, gay people would be the majority and would’ve always had been. I’m sorry, I’m not letting the homophobes who’ve conspired against me that easily- they were just hateful people. Let’s stop trying to find scientific reasons for it douchery.

  • Brian

    Imagerey cannnot be gay. If it could, there’d be a dating service for it.

    Imagery that shows or suggests male-male erotic interactions is another thing altogether. I’m not surprised most men find it noteworthy. Men are very visual creatures. It stems from their days as hunters when they needed a sharp eye to discern the prey.

    I think we spend too much time worrying over the motives of homophobes in a way that is not very productive. Here’s a clue: male homosexual interactions are opposed because women find them competitive and thus threatening.

  • Jeff Taylor

    @martinbakman: The stated aim, via the study linked in the article, was to test the hypothesis that homophobia is the result of a same-sex attraction that is being suppressed. They said: “This study drew on the dual-process models to test the assumption that sexual interest in homosexual cues among men high in homophobia will depend on their specific impulses toward homosexual-related stimuli.”

  • everybodywinsyay

    “Findings on the viewing time allow understanding why some (but not all) men high in homophobia have a sexual interest in same-sex individuals,”

    It says right there, “some (but not all)” have a sexual interest in same sex individuals. Only 38 men studied and no conclusion has been reached. There is nothing saying that all men high in homophobia are secretly gay. Wishful, delusional thinking. It just isn’t true.

  • everybodywinsyay

    @martinbakman: Data doesn’t just bring information and knowledge. It is always subject to interpretation of anyone who looks at it and it is very dependent upon how a study is conducted among a myriad of other factors. Often, results are produced simply to confirm what you feel and not what you know. You should always consider who is doing the study, who is funding it and why someone might be doing it. Studies are not neutral and aren’t ever conclusive.

  • Billy Budd

    Freud predicted this, decades ago, I mean MANY decades ago, with his theory on defense mechanisms. This is not news by any means. There are other exploratory studiessuch as this one and they have a?l reached the same conclusion. One study went to the very heart of the issue and put sensors in the penises of the subjects. The homophobics reacted positively and got aroused with homoerotic imagery. This study might be limited in its vslidity but expliratory studies can be very valyable to science especially if they canconfirm ghe findings of an established body of literature. This is the case here.

  • Brian

    @Billy Budd: You are placing too much emphasis on equating image with sexuality.

    The watcher doesn’t always want to do that which visually arouses him. For instance, I might become aroused at the sight of explicit heterosexual intercourse but that does NOT mean I wish to rush out and have sex with a woman.

    People are aroused for different reasons and it does NOT mean that the aroused viewer wants to personally perform the same act that arouses him in image.

    This is why watching porn is NOT a precise guide to the watcher’s sexual orientation.

  • Billy Budd

    @Brian: But even an idiot like yourself can recognize the contradiction inherent in the attitude of a person who claims to be disgusted by something that secretly arouses him beyond belief.

  • Billy Budd

    @Brian: Brian, please explain to me: Do you claim to be disgusted and horrified by watching a straight couple kiss? Certainly not. But the homophobes claim exactly this in the case of a gay couple. The fact that they get aroused by the very thing they claim to abominate is a very important finding, don’t you agree? Even a strange person like you, who is obsessed in your hatred of everything related to women, will be capable of discerning this absolute truth.

  • Brian

    @Billy Budd: It depends where the heterosexual kiss is occurring and how it’s done. If it’s in the middle of a street and I can see tongues flashing, I’ll oppose it. I’ll go right up to the couple and tell them to mind their manners and get a room.

    I would say exactly the same thing to a same-sex couple with a similar lack of tact. Tact, darlings, tact – it’s what separates us from the animal world.

    Of course, you wouldn’t know that, would you?

  • Baba Booey Fafa Fooey

    @Dave Downunder: I did an upside down smiley face emoji and Queerty doesn’t accept emojis.

  • Kangol

    @Billy Budd: He’s trolling you, Billy Budd. It’s what he does. The research and similar studies like it are clear enough.

    The very men denouncing same-sexual acts and people with same-sexual orientations have been shown to have same-sexual attraction. A followup question is WHY they feel the need to express hom0phobic thoughts, and what is the source or sources behind their fear of same-sexual desire and attraction?

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