Health

Here's What Happens to Homophobes When They Watch Gay Porn

March 5th 2016

By:
Kylie Cheung

As the 2016 election season rages on, so does the homophobic dialogue surrounding it. Calls to abolish gay marriage continue in the Republican field, while support for laws that enable employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation remains strong among conservatives across the nation. Even outside of national politics, social media enables the spread of homophobic slurs.

However, an interesting study about homophobia published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and the research shockingly connects anti-gay views with homosexual arousal. It was published roughly two decades ago, but might help contribute to a mature discussion about tolerance in society today.

With homophobia still unfortunately prevalent, it offers us some interesting insight into individuals who might be saying one thing about homosexuality, yet potentially feeling another.

The Study Measured Homophobic Participants Against Tolerant Ones

Researchers from the University of Georgia looked at whether men who claimed to be homophobic still experienced sexual arousal when they looked at homosexual content. They compared arousal levels of 35 homophobic men against 29 tolerant men, all of which were heterosexual.

To get a better sense of men who were not accepting of homosexuals, researchers regarded "emotional or affective response including fear, anxiety, anger, discomfort, and aversion that an individual experiences in interacting with gay individuals" as a valid definition of homophobia. Men were assessed as "homophobic" through an IHP questionnaire, in which potential participants answered questions about their levels of comfort with homosexuality and interacting with homosexual individuals.

All participants also completed a questionnaire that asked them to rate items listing verbally or physically aggressive behavior on a scale of 1 (extremely uncharacteristic of me) to 5 (extremely characteristic of me).

They then exposed both groups of men to sexually explicit erotic stimuli such as heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes and measured levels of arousal in the two groups of men to the stimuli based on changes in penile circumference.

This Table Shows How Homophobes Reacted to Gay Porn

homophobia study

While both groups of men were aroused by heterosexual and lesbian material, the sample of homophobic men demonstrated arousal levels to homosexual content that were consistent with arousal levels to the other content. Their arousal to male homosexual content was also decidedly greater than nonhomophobic men. The authors were able to conclude that there exists a connection between homophobic men and sexual arousal through exposure to homosexual pornography.

So, are homophobia and homosexuality related?

While one sample of men assessed as "homophobic" was sexually aroused by gay porn, this doesn't necessarily mean we can make assumptions about all homophobic men's sexual orientation or preferences, and in the same vein, this certainly doesn't mean that being aroused by gay porn makes you homophobic.

And yet it's likely that the study was on to something: As the New York Times pointed out back in 2012, there's no shortage of cases of anti-gay activists who are eventually found dabbling with homosexual behavior:

Ted Haggard, an evangelical leader who preached that homosexuality was a sin, resigned after a scandal involving a former male prostitute; Larry Craig, a United States senator who opposed including sexual orientation in hate-crime legislation, was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct in a men’s bathroom; and Glenn Murphy Jr., a leader of the Young Republican National Convention and an opponent of same-sex marriage, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after being accused of sexually assaulting another man.

The Times referenced a 2012 psychological study conducted among university students in the U.S. and Germany that similarly found that "homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire." 

The Times found that homophobia had deep roots in families. "We found that participants who reported having supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation and less susceptible to homophobia. Individuals whose sexual identity was at odds with their implicit sexual attraction were much more frequently raised by parents perceived to be controlling, less accepting and more prejudiced against homosexuals." 

More recent examples of men with penchants for homophobia later being outted include Virginia's staunchly anti-gay former governor, Bob McDonnell, found in an alleged relationship with Catholic priest Wayne Ball in 2013. In the same year, Alternet also pointed out the unique irony of the Catholic Church's disdain for homosexuality, considering its long history of "closeted gay priests."

With presidential candidates like Ted Cruz, who are so willing to demonize the LGBT community, and the peculiar rise of gay "political erotica," one can only wonder what sort of response "A CRUZMAS CAROL: Ted Cruz Takes a Dickens of a Constitutional" or "Trump Temptation: The Billionaire and the Bellboy" might illicit from them.