We don’t know if the shooter was queer (though, that didn’t stop some media outlets from immediately and irresponsibly sensationalizing that claim) and we may never know any of the secrets that may have constantly skittered that long dark hallway between his heart and his head. But, sadly, if he was, it wouldn’t be surprising. A study published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that “participants who reported their heterosexuality despite having hidden same-sex desires were also the most likely to show hostility toward gay individuals, including self-reported anti-gay attitudes, endorsement of anti-gay policies and discrimination such as supporting harsher punishments for homosexuals.”
To put it more plainly: the things that we hate the most about others are often the things that we hate the most about ourselves and that hate can bring disastrous consequences. This isn’t any kind of brilliantly new or incandescent truth — it’s one of the oldest, saddest stories in the raggedy book that houses our shared human history. But perhaps merely being reminded of it can offer us a way to begin to reimagine ourselves and our culture in what feels like the endless (and endlessly suffocating) dusk of Sunday’s massacre.
Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires, a series of psychology studies demonstrates.
The study is the first to document the role that both parenting and sexual orientation play in the formation of intense and visceral fear of homosexuals, including self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies. Conducted by a team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara
The findings may help to explain the personal dynamics behind some bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and lesbians, the authors argue. Media coverage of gay-related hate crimes suggests that attackers often perceive some level of threat from homosexuals. People in denial about their sexual orientation may lash out because gay targets threaten and bring this internal conflict to the forefront, the authors write.
The research also sheds light on high profile cases in which anti-gay public figures are caught engaging in same-sex sexual acts. The authors write that this dynamic of inner conflict may be reflected in such examples as Ted Haggard, the evangelical preacher who opposed gay marriage but was exposed in a gay sex scandal in 2006, and Glenn Murphy, Jr., former chairman of the Young Republican National Federation and vocal opponent of gay marriage, who was accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old man in 2007.
Prince William is speaking out on homophobic bullying – and is now the first royal ever to cover an LGBT magazine.
William recently opened his Kensington Palace home for a discussion with British LGBT magazine Attitude and met with a group of nine people who have endured homophobic bullying.
After the palace chat, William released a statement to the magazine saying, “No one should be bullied for their sexuality or any other reason and no one should have to put up with the kind of hate that these young people have endured in their lives.”
The royal’s appearance on the cover of the magazine comes just days after the mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub, Pulse. William and wife Princess Kate paid their respects in the wake of the attack Tuesday when they signed a book of condolence at the U.S. Embassy in London.
William’s efforts are part of the joint campaign on combating mental health difficultiesthat he has started with Kate and brother Prince Harry. William has also highlighted the plight of male suicide – something he has come across in his work as an air ambulance pilot.
“The young gay, lesbian and transgender individuals I met through Attitude are truly brave to speak out and to give hope to people who are going through terrible bullying right now,” he added.
He praised “their sense of strength and optimism,” which he said “should give us all encouragement to stand up to bullying wherever we see it. You should be proud of the person you are and you have nothing to be ashamed of.”
The young people and families he met explained how bullying had led to low self-esteem, suicide attempts, eating disorders, depression and drug addiction.
editor Matthew Todd tells PEOPLE, “He put us all at ease despite the fact that we were talking about some intense and sometimes harrowing things. One of those was a mother, Mena Houghton, whose son Mark Houghton died in 2010 at age 27 from an unintentional overdose after years of being homophobically bullied at school. He was great with her and with all of us.”
“He said he wants to help and wants people to stop being unkind to each other,” Todd continues.
Todd – whose book Straight Talk: How to be Gay and Happy is out this week – got a sense of how deep-seated William, Kate and Harry feel about the issue.
“I was completely bowled over by him,” he says. “He was absolutely passionate, compassionate and relaxed. Someone got upset during the conversation and he said, ‘It’s okay to cry. You can cry and be strong.’ ”
“You can tell when a celebrity or a politician is paying lip service to something, but I absolutely felt he meant it and you can see people’s mental health is important to him,” Todd explains.
“There is a head of steam about this issue building which is exciting,” he adds.
Prince William, Princess Kate and Prince Harry Launch Their ‘Heads Together’ Campaign
On a trip to North Wales last November, William was praised for his understanding and empathy. He and Kate met a group of students from Coleg Menai supported by the mental health charity, Mind.
James Cheffings, 19, from Bangor, told reporters he went through a difficult time at college but talking though things had helped. “I accepted that I was a gay man and now I work in an attitude-free gay bar and am a drag queen on weekends,” he said.
“It came across that they were really accepting and understanding about the whole LGBT community,” Cheffings said. “Which was really nice to see that we in that community have got that support from the royal family.”
“It shows that people who are quite famous people do go to little villages like Caernarfon and little buildings like this and meet people like us who might not always get our voices heard,” he added.