The revulsion/attraction problem when it comes to homophobia
I’ve been traveling back to NYC all day, and am a bit tired, I’m afraid, but I do want to point out this interesting study:
Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires, a series of psychology studies demonstrates.
I have some strong concerns about how they established “same-sex desire”, because none of the tests they used strike me as establishing desire. At best, interest. Which causes serious problems for the causal claims here, since it may also be that straight people who have internalized a high degree of homophobia linger over the suggestion of gayness simply because the forbidden is inherently attractive. I don’t think sexual orientation is a “choice”, I do think it’s more fluid and complex than people think, and authoritarians may actually cause otherwise straight people in their midst to linger more over fantasies of same-sex sex. Additionally, some of the tests were just about what pictures you like to look at, and I’m really unclear that sexual attraction is the main or sole determinant in how you make that choice.
Still, can there be any doubt that someone raised in a homophobic environment who has strong attractions to the same sex is likely to react to this by becoming even more homophobic in hopes of chasing the attraction away? Attraction and revulsion have a very strange relationship with each other, but this expression of it is probably the strongest, because the person feeling this has nothing but incentives to double down on the paranoia.
As a good liberal, I suppose I’m supposed to downplay this kind of information and point to the almighty systems as the “real” problem, but I’m not a good liberal, I guess. Because while systemic issues are the problem, the main reason that systems are shaped the way they are is that actual human beings shape them. If homophobes stopped being homophobes, then there wouldn’t be an obstacle to full equality for GLBT folks. Some times I think we focus so much on systems that we forget that it’s people who shape them, which is how we magically live in a country where sexism and racism flourish while everyone pretends that sexists and racists are rarer than unicorns.