Everything is Not What it Seems

Sean Cain, Guest Columnist

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Let’s talk about homophobia, JCU. To quote the “Wizards of Waverly Place” theme song, “Everything is not what it seems.” Besides being from an iconic Disney TV show from our childhood, the song points out an interesting hypocrisy. Research suggests that homophobic people who frequently bash the LGBTQ+ community—whether through words, social media or college newspaper articles—may actually have underlying homosexual desires. Instead of making a claim without backing it up, I have included sources from multiple scholarly journals (as my quality JCU education has taught me).

Homophobia may act as a fear-triggered defense mechanism for those at war with themselves. According to Henry Adams’ study published by the American Psychological Association, “Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.”

These findings have been supported by multiple other studies, including one published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine by Boris Cheval and colleagues. They found that “men high in homophobia looked significantly longer at homosexual rather than heterosexual photographs, but only when they had a high IAHS.” IAHS, although it seems like the name of a Division IV high school, stands for impulsive approach tendencies toward homosexual stimuli. On a simpler note, IAHS refers to the automatic impulse to maintain eye contact with attractive stimuli of the same sex.

Of course, it is not easy being out of the closet in a world full of judgement. Netta Weinstein of the University of Rochester writes that “self-identifying as gay can be threatening insofar as it increases one’s risk of encountering bias or hostile attitudes.” Whether the hostileness is from friends, strangers, or family members, it is definitely hard to be open, especially considering that, “Nearly one-third (29%) of LGB youth had attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6% of heterosexual youth,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is why Pride Month, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, intersectionality etc. are all so necessary—to remind LGBTQ+ individuals that they matter, regardless of the vitriolic words spewed by the homophobes.

These previously mentioned studies support the claim that homophobic individuals may not necessarily hate LGBTQ+ members, rather, they may hate who they are inside themselves. Marian Keyes’ adage, “The things we dislike in others are the characteristic we like least in ourselves,” accurately echoes the cognitive dissonance experienced by some homophobes.

My advice: Love one another. Love yourself. Stand in solidarity for and with others, just like Jesus did. And if you happen to be homophobic, evaluate why, and don’t be afraid to be proud of who you may truly be deep down.