Gay urban legends are a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the profusion of memes analyzed in these studies of homonegativity. As a rule, urban legends have no factual basis, and their spread seems to be motivated by a love of gossip, sometimes spiced with malice. In many cases those who repeat the stories do not take them seriously. They belong to the fringes of thinking - if it can even be called that.
By contrast, most of the memes discussed in the above texts present serious challenges. Some are even plausible - at least they have long passed as such. Seemingly part of the conventional wisdom, they blend some bits of genuine observation with sharp edge of aspersion. Advancing under the cover of a seemingly logical chain of evidence. they end up by asserting various claims that are in fact highly doubtful, as has been seen.
Sadly, in many cases the flaws, even glaring ones, have not endangered their longevity. Some anti-homosexual memes have been advocated with such convincing aplomb that they pass muster even today--at least in some quarters. They have been around so long that “they must be so.” In addition, they offer True Believers the satisfaction of enrolling themselves in the ranks of morality and decency--over against those who would subvert the basic principles of our society.
These attractions, dubious as they are, show why it has been necessary to examine them at some length.
The sheer abundance of the homonegative motifs discussed above is disconcerting: there are some two score of them. Readers may think of others that might have been included.
By itself alone, this multiplicity is remarkable. There is no single mass of prejudice called Homophobia with a capital H that is vulnerable to straightforward attack and refutation.
As we have seen, each motif needs to be studied for its own sake as an autonomous unit. Yet recognizing this inherent self-sufficiency does not preclude noting overlaps and composites. There is also a characteristic dialectic in the passage of some ideas from the religious sphere to the secular and back again.
Some gay activists, especially those who incline to atheism or agnosticism, assert that all the homonegativity in Western civilization stems from religion, especially Christianity. As noted in the first meme discussed in Part One - the “unnatural” allegation - many are secular in origin. To be sure, following the principles of evolution we have often noted in our monitoring, this Platonic idea migrated into Hellenistic Judaism and then into the thinking of the apostle Paul.
Since the hydra of homonegativity is composite and not some unitary entity, attempts to trace it to a single root, whether psychological or cultural, are misguided. Similar skepticism, alas, is also warranted with regard to the hope of finding a “magic bullet” that would destroy the hydra. Instead, each tentacle must be disabled separately.
Some academics working in the field of social psychology have ascribed the origins of homonegativism to two main factors: an authoritarian upbringing (especially a religious one); and a nagging fear that one might oneself be a latent or repressed homosexual. Both assertions are difficult to demonstrate. Moreover, even if the role these factors could be confirmed, the results would tell us little about the specific rationale for the adoption of this or that of the forty or so homonegative motifs. There is no substitute for examining and refuting them, one by one.