Many of us assume that extremely homophobic people are very likely homosexuals themselves. This is such a common assumption that it’s been used as character traits from Col. Fitts in American Beauty to David Karofsky in the musical-comedy Glee.
Well, I have only now come across a study that indeed gives evidence for that. According to this article from The Raw Story, “a research team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara found that ‘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.’”
The interesting insight I got from the report is the idea that we shouldn’t taunt or ridicule people with extreme homophobia. What they need instead is compassion and understanding. As one of the study’s author says, “We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat. Homophobia is not a laughing matter. It can sometimes have tragic consequences.” I would imagine being compassionate or understanding a tough thing to do especially if you are on the receiving end of the homophobe’s attacks, but if the LGBT community is to attain the moral high ground, retaliating might only make things worse.