Do you find yourself feeling resentment towards people who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender? Do you find yourself struggling to accept concepts like gender identity and sexual orientation? Do you fear that you may harbor secret resentments towards LGBTQ people?
Even if you don’t consider yourself homophobic, taking some time to reflect on your negative feelings and attitudes can help uncover any subconscious biases that you may have. This 2022, it’s time to take a closer look at your feelings and see where they stem from.
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Homophobia is defined as an aversion to or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexual persons. This term can also encompass feelings of hatred and aversion to LGBTQ people in general.
The term “homophobia” is contentious, to say the least. For some people, the term is a misnomer, as it connotes an irrational fear of homosexuals or homosexuality. The way homophobia exhibits today looks far less like an irrational fear – as most phobias are – and more like a “rational disapproval of its effects on society”, as stated in a piece by The Atlantic on how the mind rationalizes homophobia.
This disapproval is oftentimes fueled by conservative, religious beliefs – i.e. that “God made men and women to procreate”, that “homosexuality is sinful and immoral”, and that “homosexuality puts children at risk”. All of which are debunkable.
Homophobic behavior can include bullying, harassment, violence, prejudice, and discrimination based on a person’s sexuality. Homophobic parents may kick their children out of their homes for being gay, and homophobic bullies may taunt, rile up, attack, or ostracize their peers who don’t act or identify as straight.
But homophobia isn’t always as obvious and doesn’t always manifest as outright bullying or abuse. Some people may appear to be “accepting” of LGBTQ people but do so with reservations and conditions.
This type of homophobia can be described as “liberal homophobia” and can manifest in the following ways: hoping that homosexuals try to suppress their sexuality, wanting gay people to keep their relationships private, and insisting that gay people should conform to societal “norms”.
LGBTQ people, despite being queer themselves, may also exhibit negative attitudes towards gay people and harbor homophobic feelings as a result of learning and internalizing homophobic thoughts and behaviors growing up. This is what is called “internalized homophobia”. Unfortunately, this phenomenon can cause LGBTQ people to suppress their identities, live in constant fear of being outed, and harbor self-hate.
Is There Such A Thing As A Homophobia Test?
Yes, there are ways that you can “test yourself” on whether you may be homophobic. The most famous homophobic test is the Wright, Adams, and Bernat Homophobia Scale. According to IDRlabs, a company that publishes psychological tests online, this test is “widely cited in the empirical literature and is considered one of the most valid instruments for measuring homophobia.”
The test – or more accurately, the “scale” – was developed in 1996 by Dr. Henry Adams, Lester W. Wright, Jr., and Jeffrey Bernat from the University of Georgia as part of a study on homophobia. It’s made up of a 25-point questionnaire that was developed to assess the “cognitive, affective, and behavioral components” of homophobia. Designed purposely as a scale and not a test, the instructions indicate that there are “no right or wrong answers.”
As stated in the paper published by Wright, Adams, and Bernat, the test consists of three factors: “a factor that assesses mainly negative cognitions regarding homosexuality, a factor that assesses primarily negative affect and avoidance of homosexual individuals, and a factor that assesses negative affect and aggression toward homosexual individuals.”
“Am I Homophobic?” Test Yourself Below
According to PBS’ Frontline, which reproduced the scale on its website as part of the “resources” section for its piece on “The Assault on Gay America”, the Wright, Adams, and Bernat Homophobia Scale is “not a perfect measure of anti-gay feelings or ideas, and is not a predictor of potential for anti-gay violence.”
What this means is that taking the test outside of actual research conditions doesn’t get you a scientifically accurate assessment of your psychological profile, particularly with how you feel about gay people. However, you can use the scale as a rough measure of your or someone else’s attitudes toward gay people.
Here are some of the questions you can expect from the test. You answer the test by responding “strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, or strongly agree” to the questions.
- Gay people make me nervous.
- I enjoy the company of gay people.
- It would upset me if I learned that a close friend was homosexual.
- I would feel uncomfortable having a gay roommate.
- I make derogatory remarks about gay people.
- Marriage between same-sex couples is acceptable.
- I avoid gay individuals.
- When I meet someone I try to find out if he/she is gay.
- I think homosexual people should not work with children.
Scoring for the test is as follows: the higher the score, the more negatively you view homosexual people. You can take a version of the test on IDRlabs’ website, which uses a sliding scale from “agree” to “disagree” and involves only 21 questions instead of 25.
How To Overcome Homophobia
In his decades of research, psychology professor Gregory M. Herek found that there are several factors that correlate with hatred, prejudice, and homophobic beliefs. These include people who are:
- Less likely to have had personal contact with lesbians or gay men;
- More likely to perceive their peers as holding negative attitudes, especially if the respondent is male;
- Likely to be older and less educated;
- More likely to be religious, to attend church frequently, and to subscribe to a conservative religious ideology;
- More likely to express traditional, restrictive attitudes about sex roles; and,
- More likely to manifest high levels of authoritarianism and related personality characteristics.
These “traditional, restrictive attitudes about sex roles” are particularly damaging to men, who may develop feelings of insecurity towards their masculinity and “extremely masculine” behaviors to overcompensate. This is otherwise known as “toxic masculinity” or harmful notions of traditional masculine attitudes such as aggression, dominance, and suppression of emotion.
How To Overcome Your Homophobia
So, if you’re male and you want to confront your homophobic tendencies, you need to reassess your relationship with religion as well as your relationship with masculinity.
Another solution would be to educate yourself on concepts like sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics. Learning these things will help you understand that humans love and express themselves in various ways, and no one way is better than the other.
Finally, it would be good to immerse yourself in the LGBTQ community, or at least start by making friends with a gay person. You’ll find that there is more to the LGBTQ community than what you’ve been taught to believe.
The Bottom Line
Homophobia can take many different forms, and it’s important to understand how it manifests to address it. The homophobia test we’ve provided is a good starting point, but remember that the results are just one tool you can use in your fight against homophobia. There are many ways to overcome homophobia, and we hope this article has given you some ideas about how to get started.