Dealing with internalized homophobia

Hating yourself for being gay is known as ‘Internalized homophobia’. This is an ideation that encourages a negative behaviour towards an LGBTQ+ person.

Stock photo for illustrative purposes only.

There are no criteria to being homophobic and sometimes could be found in the LGBTQ+ individual themselves. In such case, it is called “internalized” homophobia. It leads to self-rejection, denial and self-hate.

Common signs of internalized homophobia

Internalized Homophobia can easily blend with personality and general attitude towards life, hence, it goes unnoticeable, save for the subtle signs when sexuality and gender matters arise.

Signs in some may include:

  • Wishing they weren’t LGBT+
  • The constant feeling to deny their attraction and self-shaming when sexual attractions come up, like getting aroused in a same sex gathering e.g. boy’s locker room.
  • Feeling that being gay/lesbian/bisexual is a personal shortcoming for them.
  • Constant affirmation of it being a “phase”
  • Wishing to get professional help in order to change their sexual orientation to straight.
  • Seeking out extreme religious practices like fasting, deliverances, and conversion therapies to fix the “problem”.
  • Avoiding personal or social involvement with other queer folks, and a feeling of being apart from their sexuality.

Read also: Who can you talk to about your sexuality?

The only way out is the closet’s door.

The journey out of internalized homophobia is a tricky one, but one can get rid of it through patience, honesty, the right information from the right sources coupled with the right company.

Internalized homophobia happens to homosexuals who wish they weren’t, due to a lot of personal reasons, and the very first reality check to coming out of this state of discomfort, is “coming out.”

Now, hold your horses. No one is going to ask you to shout it on the rooftops, however, that’s not a bad idea, but, it’s not the appropriate one at this point.

It is important to note that you could be out to your friends or lover, but not to yourself in the real sense of it. You can’t still handle it, and often treat it as a situation rather than a part of yourself, or even in some cases as a phase. Coming out to yourself may be a great way to start your journey to self-love, you have to be your first cheerleader.

If you want to LIVE FREE, then you might want to consider reflecting on the following

  • You are who you are and no one is to blame for that.
  • Come to terms with the reality that you have internalized other people’s homophobia, and you would have to get rid of it.
  • Choose to love yourself, without disowning any part of your sexuality. This is a long phase, that requires self-forgiveness and sometimes, external support.
  • Remember you are fully deserving of love, support and respect, no matter your sexual orientation or gender.
  • Surround yourself with friends who are supportive, a good way is joining an online support group for lgbtq folks. The advantage is you get to grow at your pace, anonymously, if you will, till you’re sure and ready.
  • Understand that it is normal to feel confused, and ask questions.

Important key points to remember

  • People have a way of surprising you, not everyone is homophobic, and some just need time to come around. Others never will, and it’s okay. You’re okay, irrespective of their opinion.
  • Remember how long it took you to get here.
  • There are supportive groups (lgbtq+) out there, and some aren’t judgmental and are quite welcoming.
  • Another great option would be to get professional help on the journey to self-love, sadly, Africa may not exactly be the best to seek such help, as such professionals might do so in secrecy for safety purposes. The internet could serve for these purposes.
  • Whichever way you choose to go about it, please be sure to go at your own pace, one step at a time.
  • Forgive yourself, and enjoy who you are on the way to where you’re going.

*All images used in this article are stock photos meant for illustrative purposes only.

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