Heterosexual men who say they hate gays are likely to have homosexual leanings themselves, a new study suggests.
The results support what has long been a murmur in the gay and lesbian community.
“These guys despise in others what they see in themselves,” said Henry E. Adams, research professor of psychology at the University of Georgia at Athens, who conducted the research.
In the study, reported in today’s edition of The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Adams compared two groups of men who said they were heterosexual. One was homophobic, defined as having an irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals and also a dread of being close to them. The other group was not.
When scientists exposed both groups to heterosexual, gay and lesbian erotic videos, over half the men in the homophobic group showed arousal to videos showing gay sex, while less than a quarter of the non-homophobic group were similarly aroused.
Adams said the idea that homophobia is associated with homosexual arousal dated back to Sigmund Freud, but no one had studied it before. While the study was based on a group of college students, and the results are not conclusive, the research provides insight into the complexity of human sexuality.
To conduct the experiment, researchers calculated participants’ arousal by measuring the circumference of their penises. Both homophobic and non-homophobic groups showed similar levels of arousal when shown the heterosexual and lesbian sex videos. They differed only when shown gay sex.
Adams defended the size of his study, which had only 29 and 32 men in the two groups. The men were classified as homophobic according to their responses to a series of questions.