Homophobia, by definition, is a fear of gay people as opposed to a dislike or hatred of them. It turns out that fear is absolutely the correct reason homophobia occurs. In particular, homophobes fear that gay members of their own sex will hit on them. This news is the theme of a new study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science today.
In the study, researchers sampled 533 heterosexual college students regarding their sexual prejudice. Each subject was asked to rate several men and women first on their level of attractiveness, and then on their perception that the person would be sexually interested in them. With this data, researchers were able to establish a link between homophobia, and a fear of being hit on by a member of their own sex.
Women noted unwanted sexual attention from bi-sexual women, bi-sexual men, and lesbian women. Men noted similar unwanted attraction from bi-sexuals and gay men.
This study reopens the debate regarding the reasons for homophobia. This new idea does not fit into the formerly perceived reasons men and women are homophobic, and it is certainly not a reason most homophobes claim for their fear or intolerance.
Angela G. Pirlott, who led the study, hopes this new information will lead to further discussion about intolerance and homophobia. She said, “Thinking about sexual prejudices, like thinking about all prejudices, requires we consider the perceived tangible challenges and opportunities people perceive others to pose."
This fear of gay or lesbian men hitting on you is mostly unrealistic. Even regarding bi-sexual individuals, it seems unlikely that anyone would spend much effort seducing others that don’t find them sexually attractive.