by Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.

I am often asked, “If homosexuality is usually caused by an internalized sense of masculine inferiority, how do you explain the masculine type of homosexual?"

I explain it as follows. The reparative principle is the same: there is an eroticized attempt to capture the lost masculine self. The masculine type of homosexual man suffers the same internal sense of masculine deficit as the more androgynous or feminine type, but in boyhood, this man typically needed to develop an external “macho” persona to fend off emotional abuse. The very masculine actor, Rock Hudson, the quintessential “heart throb” of the 1960’s, confessed: “There is a little girl inside of me” (Davidson, 1986).

An early environment of severe humiliation has taught some masculine types of homosexual men not to show weakness and to have contempt for their own vulnerability. Bullying typically came from the father, an older brother or male peers at school. In these situations, to show weakness often provoked greater assault and so denial of their vulnerability was necessary for survival.

This maneuver into a hyper-masculine façade is a "reaction formation," which entails, as Freud said, an “identification with the aggressor.” It is a primitive form of self-protection in which the victim gains a fantasy security by imitating the feared person (*).

This same shift in identity is also seen in the masculine lesbian who may have perceived her mother – and therefore femininity – as weak; such a person therefore joins, through identification, with her mother's spouse (the father) and she becomes Daddy’s little boy.

The masculine-type homosexual man often displaces his own need for love, comfort and protection onto a younger, weaker male. This is similar to the situation we see in another sexual deviation, pedophilia, where the man may wish to "give love” to a boy as he wished he himself had been loved (although in a different, non-sexualized way) when he himself was a child. This "innocent young boy" image he is so drawn to, is a projection of the abandoned boy that still exists within himself. Self-psychology explains this displacement of his unmet needs onto the disavowed self as a form of narcissistic identification.

When this masculine type of homosexual man feels insecure, he resorts to the reparative sexual enactment of giving comfort to the frightened boy within, by seeking closeness with a vulnerable younger man. Therefore he is often attracted to the younger, less masculine type of male – the innocent, adolescent type of partner who represents the suppressed part of himself that had to be denied in order for him to survive his boyhood. So this masculine type of homosexual now gives protection and “love” (albeit sexualized) to the youth, something which he himself once longed for.

Therapy necessitates guiding the masculine homosexual client with such a background toward abandoning the false macho, hyper-masculine facade and discovering his genuine masculine self. A genuine masculine self is characterized by, among other things, a natural vulnerability. This process also necessitates resolving his childhood trauma of abuse and intimidation. Through this resolution, he no longer has the compelling need to reenact his reparative sexual fantasy.


(*) This phenomenon is similar to the Stockholm Syndrome in which captives identify with their abductors. The case of Patty Hearst, heiress to the Hurst media empire, is another example. For two months, Patty was kept in a closet and “brainwashed” by her captors, culminating in her assuming their identity. A willing convert to their revolution, she took the name "Tanya" (a tribute to the wife of Che Guevara) and participated in the robbery of a San Francisco bank.

Davidson, Sara (1986). Rock Hudson: His Story. New York: Morrow.