increase in homophobia among African Americans (Lewis, 2003).
The greater degree of interpersonal contact individuals have
with gays and lesbians through friendships or familial ties, the
lesser degree of homophobia they possess (Finlay & Walther,
The number of gay and lesbian friends an individual has is
also negatively correlated with homophobia; thus, as an
individual has more friends or family members who are gay and/or
lesbian, the lower homophobia he or she holds (Herek, 2002a).
Heterosexuals who acknowledge having at least one homosexual
friend or one homosexual family member have statistically
significant lower scores on the Index of Homophobia, and thus,
overall lower levels of homophobia (Douglas, et. al, 1985;
Hoffmann & Bakken, 2001).
Again correlating rational thought with positive attitudes
towards gays and lesbians, heterosexuals with higher rational
thought processes rated on the DLS have a statistically greater
number of interactions with homosexuals, and thus, have lower
levels of homophobia (Plugge-Foust & Strickland, 2001). Level of
comfort around gay and lesbian people is also correlated with
the amount of positive interactions heterosexuals have
previously had with gay and lesbian persons; thus, the more
positive interactions one has had with gay men or lesbians, the
more comfortable he or she is around gay men and lesbians