Column: Masking the insecurity

By Jon Monteith

Whenever I take a stroll down Frat Row, particularly during the evening, I can always count on overhearing one brother yell to another, “So-and-so’s a fag! Fag! Ha ha ha!” I used to get angry when I’d hear these words, but after an enlightening weekend at a college conference in Minnesota, I’ve begun to realize that I should be feeling sad for these homophobic boys. After all, research shows they’re probably keeping quite a big secret from their fellow brothers.

Disclaimer: Before I even begin to elaborate, let me assure any offended Greeks that I’m not pointing the finger solely at guys in fraternities. I hear anti-gay rhetoric just about everywhere on campus, even in the classroom. In my experience, fraternities happen to be a hot spot for audible homophobic remarks, but I realize that many males in the Greek system are either gay or accepting of homosexuality. I’d hate to join the ranks of some of the other columnists who use offensive generalizations as a crutch for their writing, so I wanted to clear up any confusion right away. Now, on to the facts.

The conference featured a keynote address by Dr. Terry Tafoya, who has taught with the Kinsey Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality, Gender and Reproduction, both as a faculty member and an expert on cross-cultural sexuality. In his speech, Tafoya discussed a 1997 University of Georgia study dealing with homophobia and same-sex attraction.

During this experiment, the study leaders showed explicit same-sex male pornography to two types of men – men who claimed to be homophobic and men who claimed they were not homophobic. The researchers used a penile plethysmograph, which measures changes in blood flow in the penis in response to visual stimuli. An increase in penile blood flow is indicative of sexual arousal.

The results were revealing, to say the least. Seventy-five percent of the self-proclaimed homophobic men were found to be sexually aroused while viewing sexual acts between two males. However, out of those who said they were not homophobic, virtually no sexual arousal was recorded during the viewing.

As Tafoya’s speech pointed out, there seems to be something deeper behind homophobia. A vast majority of homophobic males on this campus have something to hide, and it happens to be their sexual attraction to members of the same sex. Honestly, I pity these individuals. It must be sad to have to mask one’s attraction to his fraternity brothers by calling them “fags” every five seconds. When the guys are showering in the communal bathroom at the residence hall, the most anti-gay of the bunch is actually the one who mysteriously keeps his back turned. And now you know why.

This whole anti-gay (but actually gay) crusade among male college students has got to stop. These individuals are letting their personal embarrassment over internal feelings of same-sex sexual attraction affect the way they treat other males. It is unfair that gay males in fraternities or just a group of guy friends have to be ashamed of their sexual orientation just because their equally gay “homophobic” friend can’t come to terms with his own physical attraction to the same sex.

I realize this insecurity with one’s own sexual orientation is part of a broader societal problem. Males in this society are often raised to think that being gay makes them less of a man, and therefore they must not be attracted to other men. Here’s the problem – just like heterosexual men, gay men cannot escape their own sexual orientation. It’s not a matter of choice, despite what Focus on the Family and other right-wing Christian groups may tell you. If it was, don’t you think these “gay haters” would have found a way to “turn off” their sexual attraction to men?

So, for the 25 percent of homophobic males who don’t want to have sex with other men, congratulations for having no other reason other than your own ignorance to discriminate against the gay community. For the rest of you, it’s time to stop masking your obvious insecurity with a fa‡ade of hate.