I struggled with accepting that I’m gay, even knowing that I would be accepted much like my sister was when she came out. I was scared, and still am, of my future because I know that being a gay man is often taken worse than being a gay woman because of sexual stigma. In my own case, there are also high schoolers who are figuring out their own sexualities and don’t want my “influence.” I hated the way that others viewed me. I avoided other gay people and I avoided flaunting my sexuality too much. I still do.
School. School. School. A place you go to learn for the betterment of your future. The word “gay” holds so much destruction and hate in a school system. When someone is thought to be gay that rumor spreads like a wildfire — and I’m talking about the Ranch Fire, the largest recorded wildfire in California’s history. People’s reputations can be ruined along with friendships. When I was in middle school I was, of course, called gay as an insult when anything seemingly gay occurred. When I eventually sort of grew into my skin, I was shocked to find out that I was the thing that I had been called as an insult plenty of times.
We live in a heteronormative world, meaning that being straight is seen as normal and “right.” This causes fear within people who may think they are gay. They often start to hate themselves and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. This is internalized homophobia. As University of California, Davis psychologist, Gregory Herek, writes, “internalized homophobia necessarily implicates an intrapsychic conflict between what people think they should be (i.e., heterosexual) and how they experience their sexuality (i.e., as homosexual or bisexual).”
Internalized homophobia is a perfect example of the toxic society that we live in. I identify as a gay male and use the pronouns he, him and his. At times I may act feminine, but this does not mean that I am a girl or that I will flirt with every guy I see. Assuming otherwise is plain rude. So many men (and women) have the idea that since a guy is gay they’re automatically a slut that wants to hook up, and that causes straight men that may be uneducated about the LGBTQ+ community to harbor a certain fear of gay men. To avoid that prejudice, some gay men that may want to act more feminine feel they have to hide behind a shell and “act straight.” I may not dress in rainbows every day, and I also tend to keep my feminine moments like crossing my legs, speaking with hand movements, or using a high pitched voice with certain reactions to myself for fear that I may get judged by those who are afraid. This is internalized homophobia.
A University Of Georgia study showed 35 homophobic men and 29 non-homophobic men erotic videos of lesbians and gay men. Both groups demonstrated the same amount of arousal watching heterosexual and lesbian videos, but homophobic men were notably more aroused during the gay sex videos than non-homophobic men. This goes to show that many homophobic people may be repressing their own thoughts and desires due to fear, which is supported by psychoanalytic theory. It’s unhealthy.
It causes ruptures within your day-to-day life.
Your anxiety levels go through the roof and you become uneasy about everything. At least I did.
I suggest that everyone regardless of identity should go to therapy, and not conversion therapy. That is a horror all of its own. Therapy is a great way to process your own thoughts and feelings, even more so if you are experiencing hate for yourself and a group of people. Many times when you express hate toward a group of people, it may very well be that you in some way relate to them and their struggle. Please don’t hate on that group because you don’t want to be like them. It only makes them and yourself feel bad. Going to therapy and talking about it with someone who isn’t your immediate family can help you get so many problems and worries off your chest.
When learning to cope with the fact that you may be gay you need to understand that you are nowhere near the only one.
Once you accept it you may still have moments of relapse where you will hate yourself for being gay and will have the fear of being judged. (Spoiler alert: that’s the hardest to get rid of.)
Internalized homophobia is a demon that will never leave. I, and others, will continue to suffer from it because judgment is inevitable. The LGBTQ+ community will always be hated by some and we will continue to work against their hate and the useless fictional hate we have for ourselves.