Dana Rudolph

Visibility Matters: Scientific Proof

Filed By Dana Rudolph | June 21, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Jesse Bering, psychology, scientific american, yoel inbar

We've all heard that visibility matters. Here's proof--scientific proof--as reported in Scientific American.

According to Harvard University psychologist Yoel Inbar and his colleagues in a recent issue of the journal Emotion, even people who say they are fine with displays of affection by gay male couples may harbor subconscious negative attitudes.

Jesse Bering, the openly gay author of the SciAm article and the director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, explains: "because these implicit (often unconscious) moral judgments are often in conflict with social prescriptions of fairness and equality for gay couples, such individuals are usually completely unaware of their own prejudiced attitudes."

The good news? Bering observes:

Studies have shown that people can be habituated to stimuli that trigger disgust over time. . . . The key to gay people feeling comfortable expressing their affection for one another in public places, therefore, is simply to engage in such behavior more routinely.
One might fantasize about a sort of reverse Clockwork Orange procedure here: sit people down and make them watch episodes of The L Word or Queer As Folk until their nausea subsides. (Except for Season Three of The L Word, which still makes even me slightly queasy.)

The real solution is simpler, of course: take your sweetie's hand in the park. Kiss her goodbye when you drop her off for work. (Don't do this, of course, if you feel you would risk physical harm or loss of a job.)

While I should add that this was only a single study with a limited sample size (and I wonder if people have the same sense of disgust with lesbians as with gay men), it seems as good an excuse as any for planting a big wet one on your honey in the produce aisle.

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The problem, though, is that physical violence can happen anywhere... There's been a lot of anti-gay attacks in Seattle's traditionally gay Capitol Hill neighborhood in recent years.

Ben Larson | June 21, 2009 2:54 PM

How about having them watch Short Bus until they can explain the message in the film?

OK, and they're not allowed to watch that one episode of QAF where there were gay men who were annoying and bitchy.

Or maybe we could just start staging kiss-ins at random locations on YouTube. Make out, record it, make the first frame, title, and description something that will attract the teenage boys who like youtube too much, and wait for the comments to roll in.