What is internalised homophobia?
It’s no secret that many people still have very negative perceptions about LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersexual and Asexual) individuals. But what happens when these negative feelings find their way into the minds of LGBTQIA people themselves? That’s known as internalized homophobia - here’s more.
What is it?
Internalised homophobia (also referred to as as “internalised sexual stigma” or “internalised oppression”) is the feelings of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans individual who hates themselves or does not want to be the way they are. There are many examples of internalised homophobia, and some are more obvious than others. Here are a few common ways in which it presents itself:
- Trying to stop being attracted to the same sex.
- Wishing they weren’t gay.
- Feeling like being gay is a failure, wrong or shameful.
- Distance themselves from other LGBTQIA people.
Why it matters
Internalised homophobia is often not easy to recognise. Many people experiencing this won’t recognise the damaging effects it has on their mental wellbeing and personal relationships. Internalised homophobia is a common barrier that keeps LGBTQIA people from living a happy, fulfilling life because of the guilt, shame and self-hate associated with it.
How to overcome it
The first step to overcoming your internalised homophobia is to become aware of it. Observe the thoughts and feelings that show up, and recognise when they’re rooted in homophobia which you may have learnt from an early age.
The next step is to forgive yourself. It’s normal to feel conflicting emotions when it comes to your sexuality, and the past doesn’t matter as much as how you’ll move forward.
Surround yourself with positive role models, reach out to people and groups that support LGBTQIA rights, and allow you to speak and express yourself without fear of judgement.
It’s important to accept that while you don’t have control of the outside world, you have complete control of your inner world. Speak positivity into yourself every day, love and accept yourself for who you are.
Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).
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