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It’s Pride weekend in London, so there will be a lot of men kissing one other in the streets of the capital. But what do straight guys think when they see two men having a snog?

Well, according to new research, straight men react physiologically to same-sex kisses the same way they do to maggots, rotting flesh, and spoiled food.

Say what now?

A recent study examined the responses of a group of 120 men by showing them slideshows of straight and gay couples kissing, as well as neutral images of paper clips, and disgusting ones of rotting foot and maggots.

The men’s responses were examined by collecting saliva samples to evaluate levels of stress and disgust. The men showed higher levels of disgust when watching the men kiss than they did while looking at maggots. Even the men who professed to be supporters of LGBT+ people showed a heightened, negative response to the kisses.

Karen L. Blair, the researcher behind the findings, gave her thoughts as to why the men reacted this way: “It is difficult to specifically state what this means. It could mean that participants found the images of male same-sex couples kissing to be equally disgusting as the disgusting images.

“It could mean that they had an anxiety response to the male couples kissing and a disgust response to the disgusting images, but that physiologically, we could not tell the difference between these two emotions.”

However, Blair acknowledged that these responses to not constitute any kind of justification for hate crimes against LGBT+ people, and the so-called ‘gay panic’ defence. “Clearly, the large majority of individuals who witness same-sex PDAs do not respond with violence,” she said, “indicating that whatever small physiological response we are noticing here is not evidence for an uncontrollable or overwhelming fit of panic, as suggested by the ‘gay panic’ defense.”

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