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Study about the fact you're gay freaks out folks who can't believe they're gay

The New York Times’ Sunday Review section decided to ratchet things up a bit in its Opposite the Editorials section with a pretty saucy op-ed written by two unassuming researchers. Their study of college student’s implicit sexual orientation made waves online as they shared some empirical evidence. Part of the study observed a person’s comfort level with homosexuality, and it seems that one-fifth of those self-identified as very heterosexual—and homophobic—also identified with homosexuals on a subconscious level. Or to paraphrase, a percentage of homophobes in the study are totes closet cases.

The article spread like wild fire on blogs, where writers drummed up posts—in real time no less—about how closet case homophobes, and local anti-gay ministers, will eventually be outted by a noble politico who just happens to be moonlighting on rentboy-dot-com. But others, like Slate, were quick to point out that self-identifying gays and homophobes shared similar results because both sides were “keyed up by gayness in general.” (Direct quote. Kind of disco, but whatever.) The author went a step further to point out that homophobia just means nervous around gay people. But that’s a cop out in bigotry’s favor. I remember being nervous around my straight friends when I was in college and I didn’t want to bash their heads in, or strip them of their rights. I love the breeders.

To be fair, anyone that was not home-schooled knows better than to take what people say at face value, and that it’s best to observe their body language for a more accurate summation of their agenda. That shady girl is not trying to be your best friend. Conversely, the bully who hates you because you’re gay, may really resent you’re living a life they only wish they could. There’s something to knowing instinctively what people really want, even if their actions protest otherwise. Like schoolboys pulling the pigtails of a girl crush, and all.

I get where people were going about making broad statements with empirical evidence. But mitigating the aggressive homophobic politics around queer rights and people, when a study was trying to identify why people may develop animosity towards gays, is itself pretty homophobic. The study made a bold, but safe, conclusion based on a theory observed and explored in psychology to reason the similarities. Homophobia in some people may be a result of reaction formation.

The researchers pointed out that in these findings we should be sympathetic to all involved because of the potential social restraints that may cause this “anxiety” towards gays that are out of biological control. It may not be a bad idea for everyone to take a disco break from all the commotion around gay rights and homophobia, and dig on that for a while.