Why Are People Homophobic?
What motivates people to be homophobic? A number of theories have been suggested. Because rigid, authoritarian personalities are more likely to be homophobic, it may be a function of personality type; for such people, anything that deviates from their view of “correct” behavior elicits disdain (K. T. Smith, 1971). Another common suggestion is that heterosexual people fear their own suppressed homosexual desires or are insecure in their own masculinity or femininity (Adams et al.,
1996). Others believe that this explanation is too simplistic (Rosser,
1999) . Perhaps people are simply ignorant about homosexuality and would change their attitudes with education. Most likely, all of these are true to some degree in different people (Herek, 1986).
Another factor that might contribute to homophobia is our confusion of sexual orientation with gender identity. Sexual orientation refers to who your sexual partners are; gender identity has to do with definitions of masculinity and femininity. When a man violates masculine gender roles, people often react negatively (Madon, 1997). Women are often given more flexibility in crossing gender lines, which perhaps explains why there is more acceptance of lesbianism in society today.