In the April 2012 edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a study was published that suggests that people that are homophobic may have homosexual desires of their own that they keep as a deep, dark secret. The idea is that those that have strong anti-gay sentiments feel that way because they feel oppressed about their own sexual feelings. The concept is that they are so anti-gay in order to make sure they separate themselves, even though they have personal feelings that they have a hard time characterizing or understanding.
You are probably already ready to call bullshit on this study. Well, as always, Common Sense Conspiracy is more than happy to call our patented BULLSHIT ALERT for you. Now, the concept above makes a lot of sense, and there is little doubt that there are some instances in society where this is exactly what is taking place. However, the ambitious study presents its data as indicative that this is very common. How did they come to this conclusion? Through reaction times to certain words.
The studies only involved college students, some from the United States and Germany. Hardly a fair sampling of the population. In any case, the studies used word association as a reliable way to track sexual orientation. People participating in the study were required to group words and images into two categories…straight or gay. But what they were really after was the reaction time, meaning how long it took the students to make the connection. For example, they would flash up an obviously gay couple and see how long it took the person to categorize it as gay. The real smoking gun was when they flashed the words “me” and “others” on the screen. When grouping into the straight or gay category, it was surmised that if “me” flashed on the screen, the person should have a quick reaction to it. For example, a straight person with the choice of straight or gay should instantly connect “me” with “straight.” Slow reaction times were considered to be a sign of gay orientation. Apparently, the study found that many of the students that were homophobic were the ones that had the slowest reaction times when dealing with obvious situations.
There are so many things that are wrong with this study, we can’t even get started. First of all, how did the study decide who were classified as homophobes and who were not. There is little or no criteria. And a thoughtful person that considers his option clearly must obviously be gay if they don’t immediately classify “me” as “straight” with no delay. The study also makes no mention of those that are bisexual, who would naturally have a slow reaction to these questions because there viewpoint is already skewed.
So, while we are not advocating homophobia, we do believe that someone that is homophobic is not necessarily gay by definition. That is almost as absurd as saying that every outspoken gay rights’ advocate is secretly straight. Doesn’t sound as convincing when the shoe is on the other foot, does it?