…It frequently is assumed that feelings of personal threat result in strong negative attitudes toward homosexuality, whereas lack of threat leads to neutral or positive attitudes. This perspective often is associated with the term homophobia, and it derives from a psychodynamic view that prejudiced attitudes serve to reduce tension aroused by unconscious conflicts.
Attitudes are likely to serve a defensive function when an individual perceives some analogy between homosexual persons and her or his own unconscious conflicts. Subsequently, that person responds to gay men and lesbians as a way of externalizing inner conflicts and thereby reducing the anxiety associated with them. The conflicts specific to antihomosexual prejudice presumably involve a person's gender identity, sexual object choice, or both. For example, unconscious conflicts about one's own sexuality or gender identity might be attributed to lesbians and gay men through a process of projection. Such a strategy permits people to externalize the conflicts and to reject their own unacceptable urges by rejecting lesbians and gay men (who symbolize those urges) without consciously recognizing the urges as their own. Since contact with homosexual persons threatens to make conscious those thoughts that have been repressed, it inevitably arouses anxiety in defensive individuals. Consequently, defensive attitudes are likely to be negative… Photo - International Day Against Homophobia
…Many particular empirical findings I have mentioned make sense if we assume that negative attitudes often are based in part on a defensive function: the finding that people are more negative toward homosexuals of their own sex than toward those of the opposite sex (since same-sex homosexuals presumably are more threatening); the positive correlations between hostile attitudes toward homosexuality and variables such as authoritarianism' cognitive rigidity' intolerance of ambiguity, and dogmatism (all of these personality traits presumably indicate higher levels of defensiveness); and the positive correlations between hostility and sex-guilt sexual conservatism, and nonpermissiveness (all of which might indicate conflicts about sexuality). . . .http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/roots/overview.html
“Beyond 'Homophobia': A Social Psychological Perspective on Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men" by Gregory M. Herek in the Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 10, No. 1/2 (1984), pp. 1-15.
Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation, Dr. Gregory Herek, University of California at Davis & Yale University & City University of New York
Roots of Homophobia - Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)