Sexuality Research & Social Policy

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 41–55 | Cite as

Paths to homophobia



This paper draws on in depth case studies of antigay/lesbian activism as well as on the sociological literature on racial prejudice to develop and operationalize the concepts of group position and stereotypes as mediating mechanisms which explain homophobia. Based on this analysis, this paper posits the importance of the continued promotion of antigay/lesbian stereotypes as well as a sense of group position that views heterosexuals as more capable than lesbians and gay men for understanding homophobia. This paper then develops scales to measure both group position and stereotypes. Next, drawing on a survey of police department employees, the paper illustrates the explanatory value of these concepts via path analysis. This paper argues that these mediating concepts clarify contradictory findings within the literature on homophobia and concludes with policy implications.

Key words

prejudice police attitudes lesbian and gay politics social movements discrimination 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adam, B.D. (1998). Theorizing homophobia. Sexualities, 1, 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allport, G.W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  3. Basow, S.A., & Johnson, K. (2000). Predictors of homophobia in female college students. Sex Roles, 42, 391–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bernstein, M., & Kostelac, C. (2002). Lavender and blue: Attitudes about homosexuality and behavior toward lesbians and gay men among police officers. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 18, 302–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernstein, M., Kostelac, C., & Gaarder, E. (2003). Understanding “heterosexism”: Applying theories of racial prejudice to homophobia using data from a southwestern police department. Race, Gender, Class, 10, 54–74.Google Scholar
  6. Blalock, H.M. (1956). Economic discrimination and negro increase. American Sociological Review, 21, 584–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blalock, H.M. (1957). Per cent non-white and discrimination in the South. American Sociological Review, 22, 677–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blumer, H. (1958a). Race prejudice as a sense of group position. Pacific Sociological Review, 1, 3–7.Google Scholar
  9. Blumer, H. (1958b). Recent research on race relations: United States of America. International Social Science Bulletin, 10, 403–77.Google Scholar
  10. Bobo, L.D. (1983). Attitudes toward the black political movement: Trends, meaning, and effects on racial policy preferences. Social Psychology Quarterly, 51, 287–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bobo, L.D. (1999). Prejudice as group position: Microfoundations of a sociological approach to racism and race relations. Journal of Social Issues, 55, 445–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Britton, D.M. (1990). Homophobia and homosociality: An analysis of boundary maintenance. The Sociological Quarterly, 31, 423–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Buhrke, R.A. (1996). A matter of justice: Lesbians and gay men in law enforcement. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Bull, C., & Gallagher, J. (1996). Perfect enemies: The religious right, the gay movement, and the politics of the 1990s. New York: Crown Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
  15. Chambers, D.L. (2001). “What if?” The legal consequences of marriage and the legal needs of lesbian and gay male couples. In M. Bernstein & R. Reimann (Eds.), Queer families, queer politics: Challenging culture and the state (pp. 306–337). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Christopher Commission. (1991). Report of the independent commission on the Los Angeles Police Department. Los Angeles, CA: Author.Google Scholar
  17. Comstock, G.D. (1991). The police as perpetrators of anti-gay/lesbian violence (Appendix C). In G. D. Comstock (Ed.), Violence against lesbians and gay men (pp. 152–162). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Connell, R.W. (1995). Masculinities. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  19. Cotton-Huston, A.L., & Waite, B.M. (2000). Antihomosexual attitudes in college students: Predictors and classroom interventions. Journal of Homosexuality, 38, 117–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Croteau, J.M. (1996). Research on the work experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people: An integrative review of methodology and findings. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 48, 195–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Diamond, S. (1989). Spiritual warfare: The politics of the Christian Right. Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  22. Epstein, S. (1996). A queer encounter: Sociology and the study of sexuality. In S. Seidman (Ed.), Queer theory/sociology (pp. 145–167). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. (Reprinted from Sociological Theory, 12, 188–202, 1994)Google Scholar
  23. Estrada, A.X., & Weiss, D.J. (1999). Attitudes of military personnel toward homosexuals. Journal of Homosexuality, 37, 83–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Fetner, T. (2001). Working Anita Bryant: The impact of Christian anti-gay activism on lesbian and gay movement claims. Social Problems, 48, 411–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fisher, R.D., Derison, D., Cadman, J., Polley, C., & Johnston, D. (1994). Religiousness, religious orientation, and attitudes towards gays and lesbians. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 614–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Forbes, H.D. (1997). Ethnic conflict: Commerce, culture and the contact hypothesis. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Gerstmann, E. (1999). The constitutional underclass: Gays, lesbians, and the failure of class-based equal protection. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Heatwole, C.A. (1978). The Bible belt: A problem in regional definition. Journal of Geography, 77, 50–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Herek, G.M. (1987). Can functions be measured? A new perspective on the functional approach to attitudes. Social Psychology Quarterly, 50, 285–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Herek, G.M. (1988). Heterosexuals’ attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: Correlates and gender difference. The Journal of Sex Research, 25, 451–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Herek, G.M. (1991). Myths about sexual orientation: A lawyer’s guide to social science research. Law & Sexuality, 1, 133–172.Google Scholar
  32. Herek, G.M. (2000). The psychology of sexual prejudice. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 19–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Herek, G.M., & Capitanio, J.P. (1996). “Some of my best friends”: Intergroup contact, concealable stigma, and heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 412–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Herek, G.M., & Glunt, E.K. (1993). Interpersonal contact and heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men: Results from a national survey. Journal of Sex Research, 30, 239–44.Google Scholar
  35. Herman, D. (1994). Rights of passage: Struggles for lesbian and gay legal equality. Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hiatt, D., & Hargrave, G.E. (1994). Psychological assessment of gay and lesbian law enforcement applicants. Journal of Personality Assessment, 63, 80–88.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Hunt, A. (1990). Rights and social movements: Counter-hegemonic strategies. Journal of Law and Society, 17, 309–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jordan, K.C. (1997). The effects of disclosure on the professional life of lesbian police officers (Doctoral dissertation, City University of New York, 1997). Dissertation Abstracts International, 58 (05A), 1927.Google Scholar
  39. Kauth, M.R., & Landis, D. (1996). Applying lessons learned from minority integration in the military. In G. M. Herek, J. B. Jobe, & R. M. Carney (Eds.), Out in force: Sexual orientation and the military (pp. 86–105). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  40. Kite, M.E., & Whitley, B.E., Jr. (1998). Do heterosexual women and men differ in their attitudes toward homosexuality? A conceptual and methodological analysis. In G.M. Herek (Ed.), Stigma and sexual orientation (pp. 39–61). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Koegel, P. (1996). Lessons learned from the experience of domestic police and fire departments. In G. M. Herek, J. B. Jobe, & R. M. Carney (Eds.), Out in force: Sexual orientation and the military (pp. 131–153). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Kraska, P.B., & Kappeler, V.E. (1995). To serve and pursue: Exploring police sexual violence against women. Justice Quarterly, 12, 85–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Leinen, S. (1993). Gay cops. New Brunswick, NJ: Rugters University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Levine, M.P., & Leonard, R. (1984). Discrimination against lesbians in the workforce. Signs, 9, 700–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lewin, E. (2001). Weddings without marriage: Making sense of lesbian and gay commitment rituals. In M. Bernstein & R. Reimann (Eds.), Queerfamilies, queer politics: Challenging culture and the state (pp. 44–52). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Marotta, T. (1981). The politics of homosexuality. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.Google Scholar
  47. Martin, S.E. (1994). “Outsider within“ the station house: The impact of race and gender on black women police. Social Problems, 41, 383–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Miller, S.L., Forest, K.B., & Jurik, N.C. (2004). Lesbians in policing: Perceptions and work experiences within the “macho” cop culture. In N. Sokoloff & B. Price (Eds.), The criminal justice system and women: Offender, prisoner, victim, worker (3rd ed.) (pp. 511–525). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  49. Polimeni, A.M., Hardie, E., & Buzwell, S. (2000). Homophobia among Australian heterosexuals: The role of sex, gender role ideology, and gender role traits. Current Research in Social Psychology, 5, 47–62.Google Scholar
  50. Raja, S., & Stokes, J.P. (1998). Assessing attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: The modern homophobia scale. Journal of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity, 3, 113–134.Google Scholar
  51. Reasons, C.E., & Hughson, Q. (2000). Violence against gays and lesbians. In N. J. Pallone (Ed.), Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, violent crime: The realities and the myths (pp. 137–159). Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  52. Stacey, J., & Biblarz, T.J. (2001). (How) does the sexual orientation of parents matter? American Sociological Review, 66, 159–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wohlenberg, E.H. (1980). Correlates of Equal Rights Amendment ratification. Social Science Quarterly, 60, 676–683.Google Scholar
  54. Yang, A.S. (1998). From wrongs to rights: Public opinion on gay and lesbian Americans’ moves toward equality. Washington, D.C.: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.Google Scholar
  55. Young, J. (1992). Attitude functions and political behavior: The issue of gay civil rights. Unpublished master’s thesis, Portland State University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrs

Personalised recommendations