From a previous post on sex, sacredness and disgust:
An interesting facet of sex is that the more exciting aspects require contact with things that we can find disgusting outside the throes of sexual passion.
One can easily see how both sides of this conflict were selected in the course human evolution: A strong desire for sexual activity is a requirement for the continuation of the species, but an aversion to contact with certain body parts involved in sex also affords increased protection from communicable diseases.
So how is this attraction-aversion conflict resolved? It appears that sexual excitement suppresses disgust reactions. This observation leads me to wonder if a lack of disgust-overriding sexual excitement in response to persons of the same sex is at the crux of an intuitive homophobia* among many heterosexuals.
The idea that homophobia could have an innate basis may be disconcerting because of concern that recognizing an innate origin of homophobia somehow justifies bigotry or absolves bigots of moral responsibility for hateful attitudes and actions. I don't see it that way at all. We have many innate inclinations that require restraint and modification lest we end up doing some awful things.
Also, to be clear, I am not suggesting that unmodulated, intuitive disgust is the only explanation for homophobia. Cultural influences up-tune moral intuitions and certainly, for some, anxiety about their own homosexual feelings may give rise to defensive, anti-gay attitudes.
I'm planning to post further discussion addressing an array of complicating considerations and confounds related to the possibility of innate homophobia. Subjects I hope to address include: high disgust-sensitivity and moral disapproval of homosexuality, liberal and conservative differences in disgust-sensitivity, gender differences in reaction to hetero and same-sex erotica, and the modifiability of disgust reactions which is very much in evidence as social acceptance of homosexuality increases.
I'm also thinking about a connection between the rise of internet porn and the rapidly falling rate of homophobia. A recent study links increased porn viewing with greater acceptance of same-sex marriage, but I'm entertaining an explanation that differs from a mechanism suggested by the study authors. My explanation would be in keeping with the arousal-disgust paradox.
*For reasons beyond anything I want to address here, I'm not a fan of the word homophobia. I'm using it in this post for convenience, and because it may not be the worst word choice given the connection with intuitive-disgust that I've proposed.