Bigots are Buggers
New research confirms that most homophobes are self-loathing, repressed homosexuals.
Research by US psychologists suggests that 80 percent of men who are homophobic have secret homosexual feelings. This finding lends scientific support to the long-standing speculation that those who shout the loudest against homosexuality have something to hide.
The research results were published in the prestigious Journal of Abnormal Psychology, with the backing of the American Psychological Association.
In tests conducted by Prof. Henry E Adams of the University of Georgia, homophobic men who said they were exclusively heterosexual were shown gay sex videos. Four out of five became sexually aroused by the homoerotic imagery, as recorded by a penile circumference measuring device - a plethysmograph.
Prof. Adams says his research shows that most homophobes "demonstrate significant sexual arousal to homosexual erotic stimuli", suggesting that homophobia is a form of "latent homosexuality where persons are either unaware of or deny their homosexual urges".
These findings have prompted the gay rights group OutRage! to write to a cross-section of 20 homophobic MPs challenging them to take Prof. Adams's test to counter suggestions that their anti-gay voting record might be evidence of repressed homosexuality.
"We're inviting the MPs to get their honourable members tested", says Marina Cronin of OutRage! "Some doctors are getting us a plethysmograph and they're willing to help us administer the test".
The MPs OutRage! has written to include many of the usual suspects: Matthew Banks, Henry Bellingham, Rhodes Boyson, Sebastian Coe, Terry Dicks, Nigel Evans, Michael Forsyth, Harry Greenway, Edward Heath, Michael Heseltine, Peter Lilley, Tony Marlow, James Molyneaux, Fergus Montgomery, Ian Paisley, John Patten, Michael Portillo, John Redwood, Richard Shepherd and David Wilshire. All these MPs voted against an equal age of consent in 1994.
Citing Prof. Adams's experiments, the OutRage! letter to MPs says: "In view of this research and your homophobic voting record, there is now bound to be speculation about your sexuality. We are sure this speculation is without foundation, but to end the innuendo that you might harbour homosexual feelings, we invite you to take Prof. Adams's test. Under medical supervision, OutRage! is offering to wire you to a penile circumference measuring device and show you gay sex videos. If you are not gay, there will be no penile enlargement and you will have strong scientific evidence to dispel any queries about your sexual orientation. We invite you to contact us to make an appointment at your earliest convenience".
So far, no MPs have accepted the OutRage! challenge. What are they afraid of? Their unwillingness to get tested leaves them open to the allegation that they have a sexual secret which they don't want anyone else to know about.
Perhaps their reticence is just as well. It will, after all, spare OutRage! the gut-wrenching task of wiring up the genitalia of these odious homophobes. I mean, would you want to be the poor sod who has to fix a plethysmograph to the willy of Ian Paisley? I've heard of sacrifices for the sake of gay rights, but surely such a task is asking too much of even the most dedicated activist?
Prof. Adams's research is the first serious scientific study to confirm the old adage that homophobia is an expression of self-hating, repressed homosexuality. Progressive schools of psychoanalysis have long theorised that homophobic prejudice involves the projection of fear and disgust concerning one's own homosexuality onto others. Those who cannot accept their same-sex desires, so the theory goes, vent their self-loathing through attacks on other people's homosexuality.
This homophobic defence mechanism is also often a bizarre form of over-compensation: maladjusted lesbians and gay men who feel guilty about their homosexuality become stridently anti-gay as way of compensating emotionally for their guilt and shame.
In other cases, ostentatious homophobia is a deliberate psychological ploy to deflect suspicions and rumours of homosexuality. This ruse is based on the assumption that if someone is very obviously homophobic other people would be less inclined believe they were gay.
Prof. Adams tested a group of men who expressed homophobic attitudes, and who said they were exclusively heterosexual and had never had any homosexual experiences or fantasies. He wired these men to a plethysmograph. This is a calibrated, elasticated band which is fitted around the penis and detects any change in its size. Prof. Adams then showed the men three sets of sexually-explicit videos: heterosexual, lesbian and gay male.
In response to the gay sex videos, Prof. Adams found that 20 percent of the homophobic men showed no erection, 26 percent showed moderate erection, and 54 percent showed strong erection. By comparison, a control group of non-homophobic straight men produced very different reactions: 66 percent didn't get aroused, 10 percent got slightly turned on, and 24 percent had definite hard-ons.
The response to the heterosexual video was also interesting. The homophobic group got less aroused by the heterosexual porn flicks than the non-homophobic group; which suggests that homophobia correlates with dysfunctional heterosexuality and impaired heterosexual erotic capability.
There was also a significant disparity between the claimed lack of sexual arousal by the homophobic men and the reality that most of them got some degree of erection. When viewing the gay sex videos, the homophobic men consistently underestimated their state of erotic excitement, as measured by the plethysmograph. Prof. Adams's notes that the men's "verbal judgements are not consistent with physiological activity". In other words, the homophobes were in deep denial about their homosexual attraction.
From this evidence, Prof. Adams concludes that homophobia is an individual's inability to cope with his "own homosexual impulses". The findings concur, he says, with theories that hostility to gay people is a form of sub-conscious, distorted homosexuality, and that anti-gay attitudes indicate fear and loathing of one's own inner, suppressed homosexual desires.
This research is political dynamite. As OutRage! has already demonstrated with the letter to MPs, it can be used very effectively to ridicule and embarrass homophobes; deflating their bigotry by casting doubt on their heterosexuality.
I nowadays always make a point of referring to Prof. Adams's research when doing talks in schools. It stops homophobic pupils in their tracks. Previously loud-mouthed bigots suddenly go quiet. One teacher told me that the level of homophobic banter in the classroom had declined significantly since my revelations about Prof. Adams's findings. What a pleasing thought. Thank you Prof. Adams.
* Peter Tatchell is the author of Safer Sexy - The Guide To Gay Sex Safely (Freedom Editions).
Thudmagazine, 18 April 1997 and Tribune ("Off the straight and narrow") 11 April 1997.
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