How to identify repressed homosexuality. Here’s what we know about the alleged link between homophobia and repressed homosexuality.



How to identify repressed homosexuality

How to identify repressed homosexuality

SHARE In the wake of the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub, there were quite a number of speculations floating around my social media that the shooter himself had been harboring homosexual urges that he had been trying to repress. Repression - being the odd thing that it apparently is - in this case involved his visiting gay nightclubs and using gay dating apps to communicate - and presumably have sex - with other gay men; he might have even been doing all those things while telling himself he had no interest in such activities, that they were morally wrong, or at the very least while trying to keep it secret from other people in his life.

The shooting resulted, then, at least in part from this unsuccessful repression of his homosexual urges; an inward loathing directed outwards at others.

Or so the story went, anyway. Perhaps he was just very good at covering his tracks, but a more parsimonious explanation jumps out at me: For an idea with such a long history, it does seem rather peculiar that more empirical research on the topic doesn't seem to exist.

If the subjects themselves aren't even aware of it, a failure to uncover any evidence of its existence might not mean it's not there; it might just mean that you don't know how to uncover it. Designing the proper experiments and accurately interpreting the data resulting from them thus becomes troublesome. Further, open homosexuals don't tend to be particularly homophobic; at least not as far as I know.

In other words, one of two statements follow, neither of which bode well for the homophobia-as-repressed-attraction hypothesis: Most people who were homophobic just wouldn't have homosexual urges, and an absent variable can't explain a present trait. If the second idea is true, however, then repression-via-homophobia strategy would be fairly ineffective.

In order to understand why, we need to start with the following point: From an adaptive point of view, an organism does not need to deceive itself about its desires. Thus the dilemma of the homophobia-as-repression hypothesis is highlighted: In order to do this, the authors used an implicit association task IAT adapted to sexual attraction: In total, their sample represented Canadian undergraduates 85 men. People tend to be more positive towards those that resemble them - for good reason - so this isn't terribly shocking.

The researchers tried additional analyses as well to address other interpretations of the repression-to-attraction account. First, they divided the data such that those who showed positive homosexual implicit attraction were compared to those who on the negative side. The male sample, it's worth noting, could not be analyzed here as only 4 of the 85 men had such a score perhaps there's just not much implicit attraction floating around? Next, the authors tried to examine only those in the upper-half of homophobia score, and then those in the more extreme ends.

However, the implicit attraction scores did not differ between those high and low in prejudice for men or women. The repression hypothesis wasn't even supported when the authors tried to isolate those participants whose explicit and implicit attraction scores were maximally different from one another the authors frame this as participants overstating their heterosexuality on an explicit level, but I suspect the actual interpretation is that the IAT isn't too great of a tool.

Directions for future research: They broke the data down by men and women; attitudes towards gays, lesbians, and homosexuals in general; those high or low in prejudice; those whose implicit and explicit attractions diverged. No matter how it was sliced, support was not found for the repression idea. When relationships did exist between implicit attraction and explicit attitudes, it usually ran in the opposite direction of the repression hypothesis: Is homophobia associated with an implicit same-sex attraction?

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How to identify repressed homosexuality

SHARE In the wake of the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub, there were quite a number of speculations floating around my social media that the shooter himself had been harboring homosexual urges that he had been trying to repress. Repression - being the odd thing that it apparently is - in this case involved his visiting gay nightclubs and using gay dating apps to communicate - and presumably have sex - with other gay men; he might have even been doing all those things while telling himself he had no interest in such activities, that they were morally wrong, or at the very least while trying to keep it secret from other people in his life.

The shooting resulted, then, at least in part from this unsuccessful repression of his homosexual urges; an inward loathing directed outwards at others. Or so the story went, anyway.

Perhaps he was just very good at covering his tracks, but a more parsimonious explanation jumps out at me: For an idea with such a long history, it does seem rather peculiar that more empirical research on the topic doesn't seem to exist. If the subjects themselves aren't even aware of it, a failure to uncover any evidence of its existence might not mean it's not there; it might just mean that you don't know how to uncover it.

Designing the proper experiments and accurately interpreting the data resulting from them thus becomes troublesome. Further, open homosexuals don't tend to be particularly homophobic; at least not as far as I know.

In other words, one of two statements follow, neither of which bode well for the homophobia-as-repressed-attraction hypothesis: Most people who were homophobic just wouldn't have homosexual urges, and an absent variable can't explain a present trait. If the second idea is true, however, then repression-via-homophobia strategy would be fairly ineffective. In order to understand why, we need to start with the following point: From an adaptive point of view, an organism does not need to deceive itself about its desires.

Thus the dilemma of the homophobia-as-repression hypothesis is highlighted: In order to do this, the authors used an implicit association task IAT adapted to sexual attraction: In total, their sample represented Canadian undergraduates 85 men. People tend to be more positive towards those that resemble them - for good reason - so this isn't terribly shocking. The researchers tried additional analyses as well to address other interpretations of the repression-to-attraction account.

First, they divided the data such that those who showed positive homosexual implicit attraction were compared to those who on the negative side. The male sample, it's worth noting, could not be analyzed here as only 4 of the 85 men had such a score perhaps there's just not much implicit attraction floating around?

Next, the authors tried to examine only those in the upper-half of homophobia score, and then those in the more extreme ends. However, the implicit attraction scores did not differ between those high and low in prejudice for men or women. The repression hypothesis wasn't even supported when the authors tried to isolate those participants whose explicit and implicit attraction scores were maximally different from one another the authors frame this as participants overstating their heterosexuality on an explicit level, but I suspect the actual interpretation is that the IAT isn't too great of a tool.

Directions for future research: They broke the data down by men and women; attitudes towards gays, lesbians, and homosexuals in general; those high or low in prejudice; those whose implicit and explicit attractions diverged. No matter how it was sliced, support was not found for the repression idea. When relationships did exist between implicit attraction and explicit attitudes, it usually ran in the opposite direction of the repression hypothesis: Is homophobia associated with an implicit same-sex attraction?

How to identify repressed homosexuality

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2 Comments

  1. However, towards the end of the film, it is revealed that Fitts himself has sexual feelings towards men when he approaches his neighbor Lester Burnham Kevin Spacey and kisses him, but Lester rejects Col. They nobly defended our honor even though they knew the accusations were true and that both of us had not come to terms with it.

  2. April 5, Anti-gay Bias Linked to Lack of Awareness of One's Sexual Orientation and Authoritarian Parenting, Study Shows 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. Nick became jealous and angry with me because all the time I use to spend with him was now spent with my boyfriend.

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