Homophobes Aroused by Gay Porn

You’d think homophobic men would be the least likely to get aroused by homoerotic images. Think again.

Researchers at the University of Georgia surveyed young men on the degree of homophobia the felt, as measured by their self-described levels of aversion to gay men, and specifically, the intensity of “dread” they experienced interacting with them.

Then they wired them up and showed them gay porn, lesbian porn, and straight porn. Eighty percent of the homophobes experienced arousal at the homoerotic screenings. The non-homophobic men did not.

Are these men unconsciously deceiving themselves? Or are they consciously trying to draw attention away from their homosexuality? Who knows?

One gay man told a story about attempting the latter. Writing for Scientific American, Jesse Bering said, “My earliest conscious tactic to hide my homosexuality involved being outlandishly homophobic. When I was eight years old, I figured that if I used the word “fag” a lot and on every possible occasion expressed my repugnance for gay people, others would obviously think I was straight. But,” he continued, “although it sounded good in theory, I wasn’t very hostile by temperament and I had trouble channeling my fictitious outrage into convincing practice.”

Maybe it helps to be mean and angry, too.

Jesse went on to cite the Freudian concept of reaction formation which occurs when repressed desires become manifested in sharp emotional reactions and hostile behaviors toward the thing desired.

Plenty of gay homophobes screech against the so-called “sins” of the orientation, but end up outed, anyway: Evangelical Ted Haggard, George Rekers of the Family Research Council, and anti-gay megachurch pastor Eddie Long are a few who come to mind. The whole scene is reminiscent of the homophobic gay man from American Beauty attacking what he feared – his own gayness.

“Thou dost protest too much,” to paraphrase the bard, Shakespeare.

Really, who are you trying to convince?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 25, 2011, in feminism, gender, LGBTQ, men, pornography, psychology, sex and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. what an interesting result. homophobia, fearing/antipathy towards homosexual could result in arousal of homosexuality. its very ironic and hypocritical, that homophobic people would be aroused by something they fear. i personally am very comfortable with my sexuality and don’t care for orientation, but the research is not 100 percent. i enjoy homosexuality pornographic as long as it is of the oposite sex though i wouldn’t bash my screen if i accidentally see two of my gender having sex. who are we to judge what is a sin or not. it’s off topic to what i was saying earlier: but sacrificing yourself to save others is noble correct? and suicide is a sin? well when you sacrifice yourself you giving your life up… similar to suicide, no? i’m twisting this concept around i understand, but my point is who are we to decide what’s a sin or not. I agree that there is a little curiosity in our minds about homosexuality and i can see why if i were forced to see gay porn, i would find it arousing. Anything sexual can be found arousing but it doesn’t mean you want to be apart of it or participate in them…

    • This is a small sample so it is possible a non-homophobic male could be aroused. What is interesting is the strength of the pattern, with 80 percent of homophobes getting aroused. That says something.

      But I am unclear. Have you seen gay porn and gotten aroused, or do you just think you might?

      • I was curious why gay porn actors get paid more than women actresses. The ironic thing is that most gay actors are actually straight and i wanted to see if i can watch a gay prono flick and not feel awkward. I was wondering how straight guys can have gay sex daily for money. When i saw the flick, i didn’t think i’m aroused by it…. but i did feel a little uncomfortable watching.

      • Thanks for the update and clarification.

  2. Tabitha Myers

    Most people have a way of being aroused by certain porns that may seem different or “wrong” in others eyes. It’s a natural feeling for humans to be curious and aroused by sexual things they are not familiar with. Such as little boys finding their fathers porn collections at young ages or inexperienced teenagers having sex when or where they are not supposed to. It’s the arousing experience of being a “rebel” of some sort. So, as homophobics are known to fear and oppose the thought of homosexuals, but in private feel a certain arousal because it is against what you abide by.

  3. Victor Aguirre

    This blog about homophobia seems to me to be an extreme case of denial. Denial itself is being projected to such an extent that they begin to hate what they subconsciously are. What I am wondering is how did being aroused by homophobic images affect their psyche and therefore their perception of gays and potentially themselves. Irony once again comes to play a cynical joke.

  4. I believe these men must be hiding their true feelings. Often times us men admittedly hide the truth by acting in a certain way. For example when we watch a scary movie with a girl we say that we weren’t scared at all when we in fact really were. We might then go on to say I hate scary movies they don’t scare me when in reality we don’t like them because they do scare us. These homophobes obviously were putting on this homophobia act as denial to their true feelings. It happens all the time with us guys and is undoubtedly the case here. It’s a shame that in today’s society us guys feel we need to act in a way that is not how we really are just to seem macho or tough, we should just be ourselves and not care what people think.

  5. Vanessa Ayala

    I’m not surprised by the amount of men who deny their true sexual orientation. Men are suppose to be manly men who sleep with many women, and show no emotion, and being a gay man is unacceptable to many. I think that men like these who display homophobic behaviors fear being rejected because they feel people won’t accept them for who they really are. I don’t think any of these men are “unconsciously decieving themselves” because I feel most people, even at a young age are aware of there sexuality and who they are attracted to. When they choose to come out is a different story, and when repression of true feelings and desires take place. If our societies and religious beliefs didnt tell us that being gay or lesbian was a sin, homophobia wouldn’t exist in the first place.

  6. I always thought dearth of education and a lack of (known) exposure to gays were the main reasons for homophobia. . . And I don’t really think all the haters are necessarily having repressed gay feelings themselves. I would like to see the criterion used in this study, as well as a more representative sample size. I think homophobes are trying to exert an inauthentic hyper-masculinity because that is what they believe is expected of them. It kind of ties back in with women dressing “slutty” to be “sexy” because that what women believe society wants from them.

    • No doubt socialization into a culture that stigmatizes gays is the primary cause of homophobia. While exposure to gays, and most importantly, learning that they aren’t “freakish” but rather that they are your brothers, sisters, dear friends, beloved fathers or daughters, etc., has a huge effect on ridding homophobia. Education can also have effects, especially when igniting empathy, as when watching a movie like “Philadelphia.”

      This study went beyond homophobia, focusing on those who felt high levels of aversion and dread, suggesting that these men can’t tolerate living with, or being reminded of, the mix of homosexuality and internalized homophobia that lives within them.

  7. I find it very interesting how people are homophobic and want to treat homosexuals different and rudely actually find gay porn arousing. I think there is some truth when homophobes can actually be homosexuals themselves and that might be how it gets started. They may be hiding their true feelings and maybe they just want it to go away and the only way they know to do that is act like their not and out homosexuals down at any chance they get. They also said that people that weren’t homophobic wasn’t aroused at all, that really makes me think that homophobic people may be hiding something.

  8. The information regarding 80% of the homophobic males involved in this study becoming aroused by viewing homoerotic pornography does not surprise me in the least. Having always been a very open-minded and sexually-uninhibited woman, I personally refuse to allow sexual labels to be applied to me and I genuinely do not concern myself with the opinions of others regarding my personal sexual choices and viewpoints. Having said that, I have no issue in stating that I have had sexual discussions and experiences with gay men, bisexual men, and straight men. In my experience, it does seem to be an average of about 80% of the straight men who open up and want to hear or know more about sexual experiences with gay or bisexual men once they know they are free to talk about sex with somebody who truly is non-judgmental. What this topic of discussion brings to mind that is worth bringing up here is how I find it to quite sexually telling that when I have said “No” to what I call “rear-door entry” intercourse, gay and bisexual men have been very quick to drop the subject, whereas it has always been my experience that supposedly straight men will repeatedly try to convince me to engage in anal sex even after I have clearly said no. I certainly don’t want to speak in overly general terms, but perhaps this is indicative of straight men wanting to act upon a natural physical urge without “picking up” another man to perform that specific sexual act out of fear of appearing gay. Needless to say, if anybody is not respectful of the word “No” in the bedroom, that is not a person to keep as a sexual partner! Based on the majority of my conversations and experiences with a sexually diverse number of men over the years, I have found that most men who are confident with their own sexuality and not overly worried about the opinions of others will openly admit to enjoying gay porn. I don’t recall ever coming close to personally wanting to engage in a sexual conversation with any outright homophobes, so a homophobic opinion on this matter is not one that I can relate nor refer to.

  9. Santosh Kalidindi

    This article basically helps build the argument that homophobia is often indicative of self-loathing, repressed homosexual feelings. My theory of why this occurs is based on the American culture of the male gender and its association with “masculinity.” It is not uncommon for boys living in America to be taught to be “manly” and “masculine” from a young age. As a result, many recoil and act viciously, quite frequently, out of fear for what they realize themselves to be. Additionally, they display a large deal of hatred towards those who are open about their sexuality in order to prove their own “masculinity.” Ultimately, I feel very sorry for such people because they are trapped in their hatred in order to deny themselves of who they are.

  10. Smeeta Maharaj

    This is a really interesting piece. I wonder why “manly men” try to deny and fight gays so much. Does it make them less masculine if they show some sort of approval? My oldest brother, Dave 25years old, always gets so disgusted and has negative things to say about gay men. When i ask him why he feels so much anger and disapproval of them he just argues because its wrong. However when talking about lesbians it doesn’t matter. Does that mean its fair to say that there is a double standard for gay men. And why is that?

  11. Deirdre da Silva

    I completely agree with Santosh Kalidindi’s statement that “homophobia is often indicative of self-loathing, or repressed homosexual feelings.” People often dislike other people because of qualities that they exhibit themselves, and although it is not always the case, people with homosexual feelings do tend to try to put up a front by making homophobic remarks and such in order to hide their real feelings. I think it is very interesting that 80% of the homophobic males involved in this study were aroused by the gay porn, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all gay, I think it is highly reflective of the society in which we live in. There is such a negative stigma attached to homosexuality that it is not hard to see why so many people come across as homophobic, especially if they are doing it to try and avoid the stigmatization that will inevitably be placed on them by society.

  12. This is really an interesting topic. In fact, I have watched the movie “American Beauty” before and I can clearly remember the scene that the man who always abuses gay people kisses his male neighbor at one night. It does show people a fact that a man who expresses extreme repugnance for gay people may tend to be gay in nature. I think the main reason for them to act in such intense way is that they want to hide their gayness. Usually people don’t know they are gays at first, but they might recognize this fact by accidently watching the gay porn. Once they recognize that they might possibly be a gay, they would begin to show their extreme repugnance for gay people since in their mind, it is shame to be a gay.

  13. I feel that alot of people that are homophobes can also sometiems be gay but also are trying to fight the long stigmas that america has put on people as to being in a realtionship with the opposite sex. If you think about it it’s almost beign curious to what you are told is the forbidden fruit. Such as in slavery blacks and whites couldn’t date but that happened. If you think about it in away homophobes could be curious about what they are told is wrong a and the fact that they are seeing something that they have never sceen before turns them on in some kind of way.

  14. I love this blog. It relates to the experiment of how straight men say they are not gay. However, when they are being observed by researchers on how they react to gay porn, results are fascinating. In many cases, it turns out that many who strongly speak out against gays and how much they despise gay porn, are actually turned on by the gay scenes. It has also yielded results where they are actually able to get erections. This has happened in many cases. It is because of culture and the stigmas of America. Many people are homophobic or hate gays because of how culture has represented the gay social classes. It is supposed to be looked at and hated on. Because of this, many people automatically feel as though they should hate gays and despise them, and always reinforce their mindset that they do not need to accept anything else.

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