Homophobia: Description, Development, and Dynamics of Gay Bashing

By Martin Kantor | Go to book overview
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Psychological and Biological Factors

In this chapter I study the cause of homophobia from psychodynamic, interpersonal, behavioral, and biological perspectives.


Anxiety and Defense

According to the psychodynamic view, homophobia is a symptom like paranoid delusion or phobia are symptoms. It is a symptom because it is the product of a conflict. The elements of the conflict of which it is composed-the forbidden wishes and guilty fears -- remain and are discernible in the resultant homophobic product. For example, a patient who developed the obsessive fear that he would prick his finger on a metal spur on a shopping cart in a Greenwich Village supermarket and inject himself with the AIDS virus was at one and the same time expressing his wish to be penetrated by homosexuals, his fear of being "pricked," and the anticipated punishment for his guilty wishes. His symptom was structurally akin to the erythrophobia of a patient who could not go out in public because of a fear that she would blush and reveal her guilty sexual thoughts, a fear that really referred to and covered her guilty "wish to turn red so that they can all see how hot I am."

As we have seen in chapter 13, even homophobic epithets like "faggot" or "lezzie" are never chosen randomly. Rather they are chosen carefully, specifically to express conflicting wishes and fears of considerable personal importance. For example when, as John Tierney ( 1995) reports, "the host of a morning show, J. Paul Emerson [calls gays] 'stinking buttheads'" (p. A10), he is quite possibly revealing his own obsessive


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Homophobia: Description, Development, and Dynamics of Gay Bashing
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