Study finds link between repressed homosexuality and anti-gay hatred

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A new study demonstrates a link between homophobia and repressed homosexual desire.

The study, according to Science Daily, is the first to document the roles that parenting and sexual orientation play in the development of anti-gay prejudice.

Conducted by a research team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara, the research is set to be published the April issue of the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.”

Through a series of psychological studies, the researchers found that people with an unacknowledged same-sex attraction who grew up with parents who strongly denounced such desires were more likely to support anti-gay policies and to have self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias and hostility towards gays.

“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,” said Netta Weinstein, the study’s lead author and a lecturer at the University of Esse.

“In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” said co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. He helped direct the research.

“This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, ‘Why?’’ Ryan said. “Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection.”

The authors say their findings may help to explain the personal dynamics behind some bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and lesbians. People in denial about their sexual orientation may lash out because gay targets bring their internal conflict to the forefront, the authors write.

Wisconsin’s leading anti-gay group, Wisconsin Family Action, is led by a stereotypically masculine-acting woman who has never married and has lived for many years with another never-married woman. The two, Julaine Appling and Diane Westphal, own a home together in Watertown. The primary focus of WFA is to prevent same-sex couples from achieving legal recognition. 

The researchers looked at higher-profile cases of such hypocrisy, including the Ted Haggard scandal, and suggested that “these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat.”