Do you remember of the story of mega pastor Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta? If you’re unfamiliar with his story, an abridged version is below.
Bishop Eddie Long is a mega pastor out of Atlanta that was mostly known for his anti-gay sermons. At one point, he ministered “homosexual cure” programs to recruit gays and lesbians for what he called “Sexual Reorientation” conferences. His church offers an ongoing “Out of the Wilderness” ministry to help convert homosexuals into heterosexuals.
In 2010, five young men came forth with allegations that Bishop Long has coerced them into having s*x with him when they were 16. The case garnered a plethora of attention from national media outlets, and challenged the reputation of Bishop Long when it was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Bishop Long was obviously suppressing feelings of his own desire to be with the same gender by promoting homophobia. This behavior is not uncommon. According to a study conducted by the Univ. of Rochester, the Univ. of Essex England, and the Univ. of California Santa Barbara, homophobia is more pronounced in people with unacknowledged attraction to the same sex.
“Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same s*x may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and 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,” adds co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research. In addition, the series of psychology studies demonstrates that people who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires may be more prone to homophobia as well. (Read the full details of the study here.)