previously negative interactions with gay men or lesbians are more likely to harbor homophobic beliefs (Herek, 1988). Males are more likely to rate their prior interactions with gays and lesbians negatively compared to females (LaMar & Kite, 1998). Just as negative experiences in life tend to lead to negative reactions, perhaps negative and decreased interaction with gays and lesbians increases homophobia through negative personal association with gays and lesbians.
There is also a hierarchical correlation between homophobia and the status of the gay or lesbian person one has interacted with previously (Berkman & Zinberg, 1997). Interactions with peers and superiors have more of a lowering impact on homophobia and heterosexism than interactions with people of lower status (Berkman & Zinberg, 1997). This could be a reason that gay rights organizations promote the “coming out” process among homosexuals in elite societal positions. As recognized gays and lesbians drop false facades about their sexuality, perhaps society will become more accepting of gays and lesbians as the respect and dignity they have for the recognized individual is transferred to the homosexual population as a whole. Homophobic scores on the ATLG Scale have also been correlated with the amount of interpersonal contact with gays and lesbians. Heterosexuals who report knowing someone who is gay have significantly lower ATLG scores than those heterosexuals without such contact (Herek & Capitanio, 1995). In conclusion, the quantity and quality of interactions members of the sample had with gay men and lesbians could’ve provided more data