This is our truth, tell us yours
So getting annoyed at a headline might be the very definition of futility, especially when it’s in the Huffington Post, which is basically like reading one of those “adult” versions of Harry Potter, when you fear you might be judged for one more Buzzfeed listicle. However this article recently raised so many hackles its hard to just let it go by
“Study finds that homophobic people are actually more likely to be gay” shouts the headline, and almost everyone commenting has made the same kind of comments. Either of the musing on the toilet habit of bears variety, or cheerily announcing that any homophobe they now come across they will accuse of being gay. These are liberal (whatever that means) quite often LGBT people, many of whom will presumably at some point had to come out, but basic comprehension and compassion seems to be eluding them.
The study, linked to here, does not of course say that homophobes are more likely to be gay. It actually concluded that;
Across all the studies, participants with supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation, while participants from authoritarian homes revealed the most discrepancy between explicit and implicit attraction.
The Huff Po article doesn’t even link to the study, just to an IB times piece, perhaps the fact it is written by the social media correspondent tells us everything we need to know about their attitude to science, and accurate science reporting. The lead researcher on the study seems to have far more empathy than those who find it amusing, or ammunition to use against others:
“In a predominately heterosexual society, ‘know thyself’ can be a challenge for many gay individuals. But in controlling and homophobic homes, embracing a minority sexual orientation can be terrifying,” explains Weinstein. These individuals risk losing the love and approval of their parents if they admit to same sex attractions, so many people deny or repress that part of themselves, she said.
Homophobic parents kill, transphobic parents kill, biphobic parents kill. Whether they do so with their own hands, drive children to self harm and suicide, or throw children out onto the streets, where they are exceptionally vulnerable, parents who do not accept LGBTQ+ children endanger their children. As Weinstein points out, having a parent who makes clear their opposition to LGBT people is terrifying if you suspect that you might be LGBT yourself. Mimicking their values in order to remain safe, as well as to keep their love and approval is a survival strategy. It seems some people forget what that feels like, or maybe they were incredibly lucky and had accepting parents. That is not the case for everyone, nor is a love wins, everyone can get gay married narrative possible for everyone.
If you look at charities who work with homeless LGBT youth, kids are still being thrown on the streets by their parents because they come out. They are still being rejected, because of their gender and/or sexuality. That someone consciously or unconsciously chooses not to face that rejection is not a topic for mockery, unless you are without an ounce of empathy and compassion.
It also needs to be pointed out that this is #NotAllHomophobes. The study found that people who had authoritarian and homophobic parents grew up to repress, or to more actively express homophobic sentiments. I would speculate that they also grew up with a variety of other issues around being judged, acceptance, and self love. I doubt for example that there are many homophobes who don’t also slut shame, judgemental people tend not to restrain who they judge. The study does not say that every homophobe had authoritarian judgemental parents, and there is no basis for claiming so. So when you do your “oh you are just a repressed homosexual” joke not only are you ignoring why someone might be repressed, you are ignoring all the other reasons someone might be homophobic. You are ignoring the need for better sex and relationship education, the ending of faith based schools (especially free schools), a society which still so often sees LGBT people as a target for jokes.
Maybe we can’t blame clickbait media for producing click bait, but we can challenge those who claim to want to improve the world for LGBT people for perpetuating lazy thinking. So, next time you see someone claiming all homophobes are just repressed, think to yourself what usefulness does that claim serve? It might sound like a witty come back, but LGBT people need more that, and LGBT young people most of all.