ColumnsHealth & Wellness

Homophobes Attracted To Same Sex, Study Shows

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Homophobia Linked to Sexual Preference Denial and Parenting

by Healthy Living News

People who are homophobic may be attracted to the same sex a new study shows. Homophobia is also more prevalent among those who were raised by parents less accepting of lesbians and gays the study revealed.

Published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study is the first to examine the role that parenting and sexual orientation play in forming homophobic behavior and beliefs.

“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, PhD, 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,” added Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and a study co-author.

The study had four experiments with about 160 German and American college students participating in each. The four measures determined what participants claim about their sexual orientation, who they are actually sexually attracted to, their parental upbringing, and their feelings of homophobia.

The results show that those with “supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their actual sexual orientation”. On the other hand, participants from “authoritarian homes” expressing little acceptance and support of LGBT’s in general were more likely to deny their homosexual sexual inclinations even though the they had a strong attraction to people of the same sex.

The findings could explain the dynamics behind bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and lesbians, the authors believe. People in denial about their sexual orientation may lash out because gay targets bring this internal conflict to the forefront, the authors note.

The research also sheds light on high profile cases in which anti-gay public figures are caught engaging in same-sex sexual acts. This dynamic of inner conflict may be reflected in such examples as Ted Haggard, the evangelical preacher who opposed gay marriage but was exposed in a gay sex scandal, or Republican Glenn Murphy, another gay marriage opponent. Murphy was later accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old man.

“We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat,” says Dr. Ryan. “Homophobia is not a laughing matter. It can sometimes have tragic consequences,” Dr Ryan says, pointing to cases such as the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard and the 2011 shooting of Larry King.

However, the authors added that the study may have limitations, as all the studies’ participants were college students who do not readily represent other groups.

Parental Support Benefits LGB Kid’s Health, Study Finds

Out of the Closet a healthy Option

by Healthy Living News

Depending on how parents respond, coming out of the closet may be good or bad for the health of lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGB) a new study shows. Gay and Bisexual men in particular increase risk prone behavior when parents do not support them the study revealed.

The level of risk related conditions and behaviors such as depression and substance abuse are traditionally higher among LGB youth. The new study, which was published in the journal Homosexuality, explored whether coming out of the closet — and the negative reaction of parents — might increase risky behavior among LGB’s. The study surveyed 5,658 Massachusetts adults, ages 18-64 years, using a statewide surveillance system. Three out of four LGB adults informed their parents of their sexual preferences. The average age for doing so was 25 according to the study.

The study revealed that coming out of the closet to parents and then not receiving parental acceptance and support had unfavorable health outcomes. Parental rejection lead to significant increases in depression and alcohol and drug abuse according to study participants. However, there was a significant health risk disparity between the women and the men. Gay and bisexual men who did not receive parental support were more depressed and binge drank at a higher rate than the lesbian and bisexual women who were rejected by their parents.

“It’s possible that the stress of not disclosing your sexuality to your parents affects men and women differently,” explained Boston University School of Public Health researcher Emily Rothman, ScD. “In general, gay and bisexual men may be able to conduct their sexual lives apart from their parents with less stress.”

Dr. Rothman, who is a professor of community health sciences, added that given the high rates of suicide and self-harm among lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth–and the financial costs of treating mental-health and substance-abuse disorders—it’s critical to understand what needs to be done to promote better health for LGB children.

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Greg Jeu

Greg Jeu is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of OutSmart Magazine.

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