Homophobia, as American as…

Many GLBT people, as well as straights, have long suspected that some people are so conflicted within their own sexual identity they become homophobic as a way to repress their natural feelings.

Now researchers Richard M. Ryan and William S. Ryan explain in this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that “we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire. “ The authors conclude. They also explain their study in an oped in the New York Times in the futile hope the finding might change attitudes immediately.

So many scientific studies support the fact that gay identity is hard-wired-  dna studies, hypothalamus or finger-size studies, seems like it has settled the matter put so bluntly by Lady Gaga, we are indeed Born that Way. But all of that makes not a wit of difference to the homophobic sectors of our society, whether they are closet cases or not.

I believe that there are other reasons that people are homophobic- morbid church teachings, mob mentality for starters and of course, attacking someone for what is perceived as being different is as American as apple pie. In fact, the hating starts in many homes, as the Ryan study points out, citing a broad commonality among homophobic individuals that is routed in their parents’ teachings and negative views of homosexuals.

Much of the rhetoric of homophobes is based on what they say is supposed to be told in the Bible. Very selective passages from the old testament, that have other condemnations that have been categorically ignored. Jesus says nothing about homosexuality and that, pretty much, says it all, especially to those of us are not religious.

Nevertheless, there is an alarming rise in so called ’ex-gay’ therapies, particularly designed for teens in evangelical Christian communities. One wonders if electroshock treatments in the wings again?

Since WWII, gay Americans have been coming out of the closet in droves and since Stonewall we are an evolving national civil rights movement. One thing straight America has to deal with is that we will never go back. We are millions of tax-paying, declared sexual minorities.

Gays look back in anger of the decades of being maligned, ostracized, jailed, harassed, fired, attacked and murdered for their sexual identity. But, many in the straight world want us to go back to the days when we were defined and controlled by their mores.

But, more visibility has ignited broad backlash and homophobia is in fact big political business. Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum had a lot of antigay money behind them to vault their candidacies for the presidency as antigay revivals sweep the land.

And antigay sentiment is ripe in many state legislatures, who are moving bills through to allow discrimination in employment and housing or roll backs in progay initiatives involving adoptions and gay spousal rights. At least two states are about to pass ’Don’t say gay’ laws in schools. Free speech be damned, a state wants to erase not just a word, but a who group of people.

President Obama has the support of GLBT America as being the most pro-gay President so far, even if loyalty has been tested by his ’evolving’ support of full marriage equality. Meanwhile, he is portrayed by the Evangelicals and many on the right as a radical gay activist by his enemies who successfully use his alliance to gay causes and groups to attack him.

The fact that Santorum has now bowed out should not be viewed as any sort of victory to GLBT America. Lucas Gridley, in a deft analysis of his success in this month’s Advocate Magazine reveals that all of the gay even Rachel Maddow to journalist Dan Savage were blindsided by Santorum’s success. There is so much momentum that candidate Santorum in the final weeks of his candidacy took the antigay gloves off once again, after toning down the rhetoric for months, and said that he would ban gay marriage and nullify any same-sex marriage. Pronouncements like this from any politician should be a rallying cry of us to fight to even harder to dispel the myths and fight for civil-rights.

Whatever the psychological causes of homophobia, we must be ready to confront how it manifests- whether it is bullying in schools, or gay bashings, or hysterical condemnations from divisive politicians or petrified judgments from evangelicals, whether the haters are in the closet themselves or not.