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Hey Woody,

I get a little tired of hearing that homophobes are just big Marys too scared to come out of the closet. Do you really believe that the guys who jumped out of the car with tire irons to chase me and a friend walking to a bar were doing it because they secretly wanted to blow us? Come on! That’s like saying anti-Semites hate Jews because they secretly want to be Jewish. Or that racists hate African-Americans because they secretly want to be black. What’s your take?

– Hate the Haters

Hey Woody,

I get a little tired of hearing that homophobes are just big Marys too scared to come out of the closet. Do you really believe that the guys who jumped out of the car with tire irons to chase me and a friend walking to a bar were doing it because they secretly wanted to blow us? Come on! That’s like saying anti-Semites hate Jews because they secretly want to be Jewish. Or that racists hate African-Americans because they secretly want to be black. What’s your take?

– Hate the Haters

Dear Hate,

I’m with you. Sort of. There are a lot of mean, cruel people who want to kill and maim as many Americans as they can. The bullies that attacked you are like sharks—predators swimming around looking for something to chew on. However, I do think a great deal of homophobia is based on self-hating closet cases.

The “I hate them because I hate myself” school of thought hit intellectual pay dirt with the publication of a piece of research a few years ago. Scientists at the University of Georgia compared two groups that self-identified as exclusively heterosexual. One group was adamantly and vocally homophobic; the other identified themselves as tolerant and homo-friendly.

Researchers used the 25-questionnaire Index of Homophobia, which scores people on a scale of 0 to 100, indicating “the level of dread a person experiences when placed in close quarters with a homosexual. Each group of heteros was exposed to three types of porn: hetero, homo and lesbo. Why lesbian porn? Because researchers found they can more accurately identify true heterosexuals from closet cases by using lesbian porn. Apparently, woman-on-woman action arouses heterosexual men more than straight porn.

Anyway, they hooked everyone up to a Weenie-Meter called plethysmography. It’s a device that measures blood flow to the penis. The result? The weenies in both groups engorged to about the same levels viewing the straight and lesbian videos. But a funny thing happened on the way to the gay videos. The guys in the homophobic group showed a much greater increase in penile circumference than the non-homophobic guys. Yes, the homophobes were much likelier to get turned on by man-on-man action than the relaxed straight guys!

Twenty-four percent of the non-homophobic showed some level of arousal, but 54 percent of the homophobic weenies showed a significant degree of tumescence (erection).

Here’s where it gets more interesting. In addition to hooking up their penises to the penis meter, researchers asked both groups to rate their arousal. On the straight and lesbian videos, men in both groups gave answers that tracked fairly closely with the results of the objective physiological measurements, but guess who lied about their arousal on the gay porn? The homophobes. They either denied it completely or underestimated it.

So yes, a lot of homophobia is, as the researchers said, “one type of latent homosexuality where persons either are unaware of or deny their homosexual urges.” But clearly not all of it. I mean, 46% of the homophobic subjects had no “tumescence” when they watched gay porn.

I guess you could say there’s good news in this study: a majority of the straight men (homophobic or not) were turned on at some level by gay porn.

So to all your friends who say “closet queens” to all the men who gay bash us, the correct answer is “Maybe.”

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