Technology » Science

Most Straights Subconsciously Believe Gay Men are Dirty

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday May 30, 2014

New research shows that straight people still consider gay men to be 'dirty,' even if it is subconsciously.

Gay Star News reports that a study of more than 200 participants in the UK, Portugal and Poland showed that they felt the need to physically cleanse themselves after just imagining contact with a gay.

"Labeling people as impure is a culturally universal way of expressing prejudice," said lead researcher Agnieszka Golec de Zavala. "Physical cleansing is used as a way to euphemize through actions such as excluding from social life, depriving of human rights, imprisoning of, and finally exterminating."

Researchers, who described the results as "shocking" and "alarming," believe that it proves that some think that gay men will contaminate them in their mind.

In four experiments, the same outcome was reached: if the study participant self-identified as socially conservative, then they were far more likely to consider gay men to be dirty.

In an experiment in Portugal, 55 participants were asked to do a word completion task with a mix of cleanness-related words, neutral words and words around cleansing. Those who imagined borrowing a phone from a gay man generated significantly more words around cleansing that those who imagined borrowing a straight man's phone.

After the experiment, participants were offered either a yellow pencil or a yellow disinfecting wipe. Those who borrowed the phone from a gay man chose the wipe much more often.

"It's alarming that prejudice can still be found on a subconscious level. It may be difficult to reduce the prejudice people are unaware they hold," said Zavala. "Therefore there is still hope that more can be changed with education to limit and eradicate prejudice."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • , 2014-05-31 13:13:12

    The irony of these findings is that gay men are generally considerably cleaner than straight men.

  • Wayne M., 2014-06-02 20:52:18

    What this suggests is the obvious. Homosexual sexual acts are repulsive to many, if not most heterosexuals. This should not surprise us. Those of us who are exclusively same-sex oriented (fully homosexual) often feel the same way about opposite sex sexual activity. However, this does not justify discrimination. The fact is that we do not need to understand people who are different - only accept and affirm people for who they are.

  • GAG'EM, 2014-06-02 23:41:46

    Yes, gay men are dirty, and that’s just the way I like them.

  • cab, 2014-06-03 14:29:46

    No one is immune from the guilt and fear of latent subconscious thoughts, articulated as "dirty," when it comes to sexuality. The reflex of fear is programmed and ancestral, which is, regrettably, also exploitable. Consider, if you will, the subtle and not-so-subtle undertones from scriptures like this: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The fact that gay men and women have been defined first and foremost by the sexual act enslaves the many to a derelict view of sexuality that seeks to marginalize, dehumanize, and justify prejudice and hate while at the same time nurturing self-loathing. It’s not so surprising that "dirty" is a universal description of sex in certain contexts. We may not be capable of changing the fight or flight reflex-response mechanism of the reptilian part of the brain, but a society that nurtures equality won’t find its collective subconscious for gay relationships so narrowly defined, imagined, and articulated whether or not we purge ourselves with hyssop.

  • , 2014-06-05 18:24:59

    The homophobe (fear of a man/men?) label is a pile of krap...which is what straight men find repulsive or dirty about Gay men...that the anal orifice for defecating is the primary sexual orifice substituted for a female vagina. The proximity of feces to the male organ during the Gay male sex act is where the "dirty" part of Gay sex occurs. All this talk about handling a phone from a gay man is deflection from the actual disgusting and dirty part of sex between gay men which is basically sex with a sewer pipe.

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