Jon Gruden, Lt. Gov. Robinson & the Theory of Repressed Sexual Desire Among Homophobes
Homophobes are in the news this week just to remind us that such bigotry still thrives in some dusty corners of our society. Jon Gruden lost his lucrative job as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after his homophobic emails surfaced on Monday, and the Republican Lt. Gov. of North Carolina, Mark Robinson, made headlines for calling folks in the LGBT community "filth." Robinson has since doubled down on his stupidity after facing calls to resign.
It's difficult to understand why some folks seem so threatened by the sexuality of other individuals. Anti-LGBT activists often claim that it's about protecting kids from being indoctrinated into the "lifestyle," as if reading a book in school will somehow trigger "gayness" in an otherwise straight individual. Such folks obviously don't understand how human sexuality works.
As a mountain of research has demonstrated, homosexuality isn't a choice; it's an immutable part of life. Moreover, it's been around as long as human history and isn't unique to our species.
The Conversation: "Across cultures, 2% to 10% of people report having same-sex relations. In the U.S., 1% to 2.2% of women and men, respectively, identify as gay. Despite these numbers, many people still consider homosexual behavior to be an anomalous choice. However, biologists have documented homosexual behavior in more than 450 species, arguing that same-sex behavior is not an unnatural choice, and may in fact play a vital role within populations."
Generally speaking, attitudes toward the LGBT community have become more enlightened over the last 50 years, but almost 30% of Americans still oppose fully accepting gays and lesbians into society, and studies have shown that is especially true of older evangelical Protestants.
Homophobia persists today for a variety of reasons tied to religion, warped notions of masculinity, and the sociological concept of "otherness," how societies establish identity categories and label them as positive or negative.
Psychologists identified an additional reason for male homophobia years ago; repressed homosexual desire.
PBS: "Many heterosexuals repress homosexual tendencies, Sigmund Freud believed, and some repress them more strongly than others. Homophobia is the name for what Freud saw as heterosexuals' "vigorous counter-attitudes" to homosexuality. For most of this century, many writers on the topic, following Freud, have accepted this relationship between repressed (or "latent") homosexuality and homophobia. But, Dr. Henry Adams of the University of Georgia, was the first to attempt to test the proposition empirically. The results? Individuals who score in the homophobic range on the "Homophobia Scale" demonstrate signficant sexual arousal to male homosexual erotic stimuli."
Other researchers have replicated and expanded on Dr. Adams work. A paper published in 2012 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology documented some of the more recent work on the subject.
Psypost.org: “Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study’s lead author."
“In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” adds co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research."
Only Gruden and Robinson fully understand the reasons for their own homophobia, but generally, research offers us hope that as more men feel free to openly express their latent sexual desires that antipathy toward the LGTB community will subside.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content