How to Overcome Internalized Homophobia

Photo credit: Asa Rodger
Photo credit: Asa Rodger

Internalized homophobia is a silent killer in America. Countless gay men from around the world are brainwashed to hate themselves. We’re shaped to believe that in order to have value, we must suppress who we really are.

It’s hard to find the root of internal struggle, but within our community there seems to be a toxic resentment shared by all of us.

Why are we so afraid? What are we afraid of?

We spend too much time blaming strangers, rather than allowing ourselves to be introspective. If we want to know why we struggle the way we do, we need to dig deeper into our emotional well and listen to what our emotions say.

Guilt convinces us we did something wrong and are unworthy of joy. Shame tells us we’re not good enough for anything. Embarrassment says we feel bad about ourselves. Anger says we hate who we are.

Having any of these feelings is a result of internal conflict, which can only be resolved through deep investigation by asking ourselves a simple question: Why?

If we don’t dare to figure it out, these emotions will build until they are too much to bear. Every spark of guilt, shame, embarrassment, or anger we feel is an opportunity to ask ourselves, Why do I feel this way? When was the first time I felt this way? Where can I find the compassion in this memory? How can I better interpret it now as an adult? 

When we investigate our emotions, we make a clear pathway for us to find the truth. We must listen to these voices — as they arise — before we let them them pile on top of each other. That’s when we reach a point of no return.

Find the source of your hatred.

No person is born with hate. The next time you feel a spark of anger or hate, stop yourself. What caused it? Reflect back to a time in your life or childhood that may have been the root cause. When was the first time you felt this way?

Was it something someone said? Something you read about? Jokes you heard repeatedly? The types of friends you hung out with? Cultural pressure? Find the source of these feelings, and look it straight in the eye. Separate yourself from it so you are more conscious when it returns again.

Depend on trustworthy people.

We are scared to express how we feel because we’re terrified of judgment. This is why it’s important to find people in your life who are trustworthy, and use them as a springboard to discover your true intention, as well as your values.

Being around nonjudgmental people will inspire you to be intuitive. After all, if you can trust others, you might learn to be able to trust yourself. To separate fact from fiction, you must understand the power of trust. It’s about embracing who you are and knowing that it’s okay. Seeing others accept that will allow you to accept it as well.

Be your best SELF, first.

Fulfilling your potential doesn’t have anything to do with your reputation, orientation, gender or role. It’s about how you are as a human being and what you have to offer. Bowing down to social perspectives and expectations doesn’t progress you in any way. In fact, it inhibits you.

Be okay with other opinions.

If we go through life concerned about what others think, we’re never going to embrace our potential as a man, friend, lover, and human. The focus should always be forward. Your parents, friends, pastor, or heroes do not matter when it comes to making decisions for yourself.

Find authentic role models to look up to. Understand that just because you’re gay does not mean you have to change yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re taking a magic pill and turning into a unicorn, or prototypical “image.” You’re still YOU and always will be – with way less fear.

Don’t blame yourself for everything.

Sometimes the world deals us a difficult hand. Maybe you weren’t born into a welcoming home. Maybe “Mr. Right” came at the wrong time. Many of us have no one to trust, so we end up blaming ourselves for it all. We think “it’s my fault I was bullied,” “it’s my fault my dad isn’t close to me anymore,” “it’s my fault no one likes me.”

Being gay or bisexual isn’t anyone’s fault. It is what it is. We were born this way – it’s how our brains came to be in the womb. Some people are gay; some people are straight. It’s Mother Nature! Blaming yourself is like blaming the sky for being blue. It is a waste of time and thought.

Being masculine is not a straight quality.

Masculinity and femininity are personality characteristics. They’re not synonymous with being gay or straight. When you’re uncomfortable around gay people, chances are it reflects something internal you don’t want to acknowledge. It doesn’t have anything to do with them being “fem” – these are exterior traits easy to blame but are never a sole cause for hatred.

David Artavia

Writer

David lives in New York City, where he acts, writes and lives vicariously through his friends.

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