What is Internalized Homophobia?
What is internalized homophobia? Internalized homophobia is a term used to describe the process by which LGBTQ+ individuals come to accept and believe negative stereotypes about themselves.
What internalized homophobia looks like and why it’s a problem
Internalized homophobia is a term used to describe the process by which LGBTQ+ individuals come to accept and believe negative stereotypes about themselves. This can include feeling ashamed of their sexual orientation or gender identity, believing that being queer is wrong or immoral, and fearing that other people will find out about their identity. Internalized homophobia can lead to self-hatred and anxiety, and can make it difficult for LGBTQ+ individuals to come out and live openly. This can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment and isolation. In addition, hiding their sexuality prevents them from developing healthy relationships with others.
Internalized homophobia can look like many things. Here are some examples:
- Denial of your sexual orientation to yourself and being skeptical of other people's identities
- Attempts to alter or change your sexual your orientation – or belief that this can be done
- Engaging in obsessive thinking and/or compulsive behaviors about how you're presenting
- Low self esteem or negative self image because of who you are
- Idealizing the idea of 'marrying straight' as the gold standard
- Hold in contempt open or visibly queer members of the LGBTQ+ community
- Denial that homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, etc., are serious social problems
- Engaging in homophobic behaviours – ridicule, harassment, verbal or physical attacks on other LGBTQ+ people
- Attempts to pass as heterosexual in social settings
- Obsessive self-monitoring of one’s behaviors, mannerisms, beliefs, and thoughts
The effects of Internalized homophobia
Here is a list of some of the effects of internalized homophobia.
- Constantly fearing being judged by others
- Feeling immense pressure to act and dress conventionally 'straight'
- Believing that you need to hide your true self from your community and the world
- Having thoughts that being LGBTQ+ is wrong or bad (affecting your perception of yourself and others)
- Fearing being rejected by your family and friends because of who you are deep down
Tools you can try to combat internalized homophobia
- Try to connect with new LGBTQ friends who might 'get' you
- Try to understand that other people's opinion about you is none of your business. (Remind yourself that other people’s expectations are NOT your responsibility)
- Take a sociology class and learn about social constructs of gender
- Try something that feels “too feminine,” or “too masculine” to you
- Avoid so-called “friends” who put you down
- Join a church that is affirming of LGBTQ+ identities (if religious)
- Take notice when you are being overly aware of how people are perceiving you
- Raise your political consciousness about LGBTQ+ issues
- Love some of your most judgmental family members from afar, limiting your time around them
- Reflect on your childhood exposure to homophobia: this is where a lot of belief systems are built
- Strive to making self-care a new lifetime habit
- Say “I love you” to yourself often (even though it feels ridiculous)
- Connect with an LGBTQ-friendly coach or therapist
- Be mindful of your thoughts about other LGBTQ people
Trans Lifeline - 877-565-8860 (U.S.), 870-330-6366 (Canada)
PFLAG - The nation's largest family and ally organization.