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.
The study is the first to document the role that both parenting and sexual orientation play in the formation of intense and visceral fear of homosexuals, including self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies. Conducted by a team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara
The findings may help to explain the personal dynamics behind some bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and lesbians, the authors argue. Media coverage of gay-related hate crimes suggests that attackers often perceive some level of threat from homosexuals. People in denial about their sexual orientation may lash out because gay targets threaten and bring this internal conflict to the forefront, the authors write.
The research also sheds light on high profile cases in which anti-gay public figures are caught engaging in same-sex sexual acts. The authors write that 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 in 2006, and Glenn Murphy, Jr., former chairman of the Young Republican National Federation and vocal opponent of gay marriage, who was accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old man in 2007.
An angry man was caught on video last week attacking a fellow passenger at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, apparently because he thought the man was gay. But then, a group of bystanders, including a man in a cowboy hat, quickly took action to bring the man down, according to the video.
WARNING: The video, and description below, contain some NSFW language.
From the May 5, 1997 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
Sometimes hate seems so natural to people. A person might think, I have a right to hate so-and-so because he is cruel to others. But that person needs to realize that hate is not natural. And he or she needs to be alert not to justify it.
Hate is hypnotic. It is the result of a belief in a mind apart from God. There is no legitimate reason to hate anyone, because God has made everyone perfect and good, like Himself. And it’s a lot easier to love unconditionally if you’re keeping in mind God’s image and likeness.
A year or so ago I had an experience that required me to heal hateful feelings. I had a friend who was very close to me. We did everything together. Then one day—it seemed overnight—she got involved in drugs. Our friendship went downhill fast. I felt we no longer had anything in common. We still talked to each other, but every day she bragged about all of her “fun times” smoking up and getting drunk. I never said anything to her, but this really made me mad. I thought she was stupid to be doing drugs, and even more stupid because she changed her entire lifestyle to be “cool.” And she gained such an ego.
I started to hate her, and the hate made me miserable. I knew that there was something wrong with this, and I would often turn to God, but for the wrong reason—out of self-pity. For a time I justified the hate by telling myself that it was OK to be angry because she had turned into such an awful person and was ruining her life. As the days went by, though, nothing got better. Instead, my hate got worse and worse. And my happiness was ruined by her stories.
Since this was really bothering me, I brought it up in my Sunday School class. My teacher was a real help. She explained how hatred can be like a two-edged sword—when you try to harm someone with it, you end up injuring yourself. I realized that was true.Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy quotes Hannah More, who said, “If I wished to punish my enemy, I should make him hate somebody” (p. 223).
The hate made me miserable.
That woke me up. I realized that it wasn’t really this girl that was making me unhappy. It was the hateful thoughts that needed to be corrected. I remembered Christ Jesus and all of the people who persecuted him. Despite the persecution, he still loved and tried to help them.
I needed to understand that everyone is God’s child and that God loves each one equally, including this girl. She was as guided and protected by God as I was! God made all that is real. And He made all perfect. Each of us has the ability to express His qualities of love, goodness, strength, intelligence, understanding, meekness—all good. Evil is an illusion. The truth is that God fills all space, and there is no place for error or evil to exist. It is impossible for any person not to be perfect, loved, and guided by God.
Realizing this, I was now willing to see this girl as God’s child. I proceeded to correct the hateful thoughts, knowing that the bad traits were unreal. Instead of condemning her, I prayed to know that she was protected and that God was showing her what was right.
I am a lot more patient with her now. And I’m sure that this has helped her far more than my blind hate. I know it has helped me. Hate is never the answer.