Study: Homophobes Repressing Their Own Sexuality

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com April 09 2012 7:49 PM ET

Intense hostility toward LGBT people may be due to a person's own repressed same-sex attractions and their parental upbringing, a new study by the University of Rochester suggests.

Psychology professor Richard Ryan, who coauthored the study, told  USA Today  that people who tend to have publicly expressed sexual desires that are disjointed from their unconscious sexual desires see gay people as threatening. Those conflicting feelings lead to expressions of homophobia and discrimination.

The study surveyed approximately 640 college students in the U.S. and Germany. Participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of people of both sexes. They were also asked to answer questions about the type of parenting they experienced as children and about witnessing homophobia in the home.

People with more accepting parents were more in tune with their own sexual orientation, but those who came from a controlling home with homophobic parents were more likely to suppress their own same-sex attractions.

Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex, England, coauthored the study.