Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Monster in the Mirror

By Dan Hagen
The men who loudly advertise their loathing of gay people are generally ashamed of their own secret homosexual desires.
It’s classic psychological projection — the Other being despised because you have identified it with the Shadow you have cast out, that dark secret lurking inside you that you dare not even look at.
What’s really frightening these men is the monster in the mirror.
At the University of Georgia, researchers conducted an experiment involving 35 homophobic men and 29 non-homophobic men. All of the men participating in the experiment considered themselves exclusively heterosexual. This study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Volume 105, No. 3, August 1996, described how each of the participants was shown sexually explicit heterosexual, male homosexual and lesbian videotapes.
Sexual arousal for the homophobic and non-homophobic men was found to be similar when they viewed both the heterosexual and the lesbian sexual activity. However, when the two groups viewed the video of two men engaging in sexual behavior, a significant statistical difference arose. In this instance, the group of homophobic men showed a considerable increase in sexual arousal while the group of non-homophobic men did not. The clear implication of this study is that homophobia in men is a reaction to their own repressed homosexual urges.
Nor is that study alone. “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.” That was the conclusion of physiological studies conducted by scientists at the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara. “Individuals who identify as straight but, in psychological tests, show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” wrote Netta Weinstein, the study’s lead author. “In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” said co-author Richard Ryan.
So the men who rant against gays are, all unaware, announcing to the world what their real feelings are.
That would, of course, include people like former Sen. Larry Craig, the fascist FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the vicious Roy Cohn and the Rev. Ted Haggard, Jonathan Merritt, to name a few from an endless and growing list.
All famous conservatives, you’ll note, and that’s no coincidence. Four common psychological manifestations of defensiveness are denial, rationalization, minimization and projection. All are constantly wielded as Republican political weapons. When your policies actually harm the people you are trying to bamboozle into supporting you, they're all quite useful.
Psychological projection is a key tactic of the contemporary GOP. They always loudly accuse their opponents of doing everything they themselves have done, are ashamed of doing, are still doing and intend to continue to do.
Claiming to speak with the authority of God, for example, Haggard encouraged young gay people to despise themselves while he was practicing homosexuality himself. And he did it to get rich.
I can forgive some vicious actions, particularly if they were inspired by the nasty, ancient dogmas that still blind and shackle so many people in this world. Conformity can create creeps. But I don’t forgive leaders in positions of authority who use that authority to victimize helpless people.
On the other hand, I will always admire those gay people who didn’t cower or hide, who summoned from somewhere the courage and the honesty required to stand up to whatever filth government, society and religion chose to throw at them.
Life’s not worth a damn until you can say, “Hey world, I am what I am.” Sometimes you can find wisdom even in musical comedies.
The damage that people who lead inauthentic lives inflict on their society, on the people who know them and on themselves — that, my friend, is what’s truly monstrous.

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