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internalised homophobia

December 28, 2015

inthomWhat is internalised homophobia?

gay, lesbian and bisexual and even heterosexuals, who have been taught that heterosexuality is the norm and “correct way to be”. Hearing and seeing negative depictions of LGB people can lead us to internalise, or take in, these negative messages.

manifests itself in varying ways including:
Denial of your sexual orientation to yourself and others.
Attempts to alter or change your sexual your orientation.
Feeling you are never good enough.
Engaging in obsessive thinking and/or compulsive behaviours.
Under-achievement or even over-achievement as a bid for acceptance.
Low self esteem, negative body image.
Contempt for the more open or obvious members of the LGBT community: the man who chooses not to speak to another gay man at work because “he is a bit camp and people may put two and two together”.
Contempt for those at earlier stages of the coming out process.
Denial that homophobia, heterosexism, biphobia or sexism are serious social problems.
Contempt for those that are not like ourselves or contempt for those who seem like ourselves. Sometimes distancing by engaging in homophobic behaviours – ridicule, harassment, verbal or physical attacks on other LGB people.
Projection of prejudice onto another target group.
Becoming psychologically abused or abusive or remaining in an abusive relationship.
Attempts to pass as heterosexual, sometimes marrying someone of the other sex to gain social approval or in hope of ‘being cured’.
Increased fear and withdrawal from friend and relatives.
Shame or depression; defensiveness; anger or bitterness.
School truancy or dropping out of school. Also, work place absenteeism or reduced productivity.
Continual self-monitoring of one’s behaviours, mannerisms, beliefs, and ideas.
Clowning as a way of acting out society’s negative stereotypes.
Mistrust and destructive criticism of LGBT community leaders.
Reluctance to be around or have concern for children for fear of being seen as a paedophile.
Conflicts with the law.
Unsafe sexual practices and other destructive risk-taking behaviours-including risk for HIV and other STIs.
Separating sex and love, or fear of intimacy. Sometimes low or lack of sexual drive or celibacy – an example may be a gay man who happens to “be in love with a friend who’s over, it may be the result of internalised homophobia; Short-term relationships: eg. the person who works long hours, has a hectic lifestyle, and when a partner wants to get to know you that bit more, you may decide that your life is too busy for a relationship and that you want to “keep things simple”.
Substance abuse, including drink and drugs.
Thinking about suicide, attempting suicide, committing suicide.
Denial – ranging from aggressive and hateful behavior to denying yourself the life and love you desire
Lying to yourself about attraction and sexuality;
The inability to “come out” if you want to, and if you can safely.
Being selectively “out”
Forcing others to keep secrets or remain in the closet;
Lying by omission
Deeply closeted politicians, religious leaders and “powerful” people who advocate and lobby against the LGBTQ community

Mental and Physical Health Issues

Chronic stress has extremely negative consequences for the human body, such as, but certainly not limited to, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety disorders, increased susceptibility to illness, heart disease, and high blood pressure.


Think critically about how internalized homophobia could be impacting your life, rather than rejecting the notion outright.

Read more about internalized homophobia. While this topic has less written about it than say, coming out, there is still a lot of information out there, especially moving personal accounts.

Community –  building a support network is absolutely essential. The compassion of other LGBQ people and straight allies can be tremendously healing. Others who are at a different stage in the process can often offer valuable insight and solidarity.

Learn about the history of the LGBTQ rights movement.  Find role models in the struggle. See all of the different identities and human beings it took to effect progress towards equality and justice.

Find an LGBTQ positive therapist, counselor or psychologist who can guide you through the reparative process.

Get away from toxic influences. This one can often be the most difficult. Typically, toxic influences include major players in our lives, such as family, religion, and friends.

negative messages:

  • You are going to hell because you are gay
  • Gays are not real men
  • That’s so gay (derogatory usage of the term gay)
  • Gay people endanger the concept of “real” family
  • Gay people are responsible for diseases
  • Gay people are sexually immoral
  • Gay people deserve the violence and abuse done to them

Transform the Negative Messages

  • Gay people can and do have positive spirituality.  We even have churches that accept us openly.
  • Gay men come in all types from effeminate to super macho.  They are very real men (or women if you are a lesbian)
  • I blow off people who use “that’s so gay” as immature
  • Gay people can and do have real families.   Gay people can be positive parents.  Gay people do not endanger the concept of family.  Families are already very diverse.     Gay people are increasingly able to get married and adopt children.
  • Gay people are no more sexually promiscuous or immoral than heterosexual people.  People are sexual, period.
  • Nobody deserves to be victimized, dehumanized or treated with less than respect.  Nobody should be singled out for victimization just because they belong to a particular class of people.  And YOU should not accept treatment that is not respectful.
  • STD risk is a real issue, but not just a problem of the gay community.  There are lots of people who are at risk, but gay people should not be singled out in this regard.
  • The concepts of family, sexuality and the ethics of sexual behavior based upon conservative religion can be destructive to the psyche of someone who is gay.  Fortunately there are more progressive ways of looking at sexuality and relationships that do not stigmatize people as immoral for having same sex relationships.  Find positive progressive people as role models.   It will help tremendously.

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