James W. Hicks, M.D.

Bullying Gays: What We Fear in Ourselves

In Announcements on October 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm

The suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clemente and the kidnapping and torture of a gay man in the Bronx are just the most recent of several incidents in which gays have been assaulted or taunted, sometimes to death. They seem to fly in the face of polls which have shown Americans to be increasingly tolerant of homosexuality. Do these incidents represent a backlash? Or are they proportionate to the greater visibility achieved by men and women coming out of the closet? Surely these sort of crimes have occurred in the past, but perhaps the underlying motivations were silenced.

In these two instances at least, there is something particularly perverse about the acts. What could be more “gay” (in the derogatory schoolyard sense) than filming your roommate having sex or sliding an object into another man’s anus? A study conducted in Canada about a decade ago found that men with homophobic attitudes were significantly more likely to become sexually aroused by pictures of naked men. This is one of the few studies to confirm a Freudian idea: we see and attack in others what we despise or fear in ourselves. Perhaps the bullies and perpetrators could do all of us, and themselves, a favor by exploring their bisexual conflicts in a more respectful and life-enhancing way.

  1. What’s the citation for this Canadian study?

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