Updated: Feb 27
This is a concept that is gaining greater understanding within the queer community and is allowing us to make sense of our complex minds. This doesn’t mean as a gay person that you are homophobic in the literal sense, it does however mean that we have certain apprehensions and subconscious misconceptions about the community that we are apart of.
When we’re growing up we have society bombard us with the same 50’s narrative:
Get a good job
Marry the opposite sex
Get a dog
Get a family home in a quiet area
We’re shown this same narrative on repeat that our brains are hardwired to think that’s what we want and what we need to be successful - this is unfathomably damaging. Coming to terms with your sexuality is really coming to terms with the fact your brain wants something different to what society has shown us, we’re scared. We think we’re not normal, because normal is the latter, that 50’s narrative. It takes us a long time to break down those barriers; to bring down those societal walls we’ve built, to read other people’s stories, to follow other peoples journeys, to finally realise that it is actually ok.
Now fast forward; we’ve accepted our sexuality and are ‘happy’ with who we are, or so we think. Inner acceptance is reflected in how we treat others. People who have the biggest insecurities are often the most judgmental, it’s a coping mechanism that makes us feel superior and temporarily helps us to forget our own problems. The same concept actually applies to sexuality. Some queer people will have an inner resentment towards queer people that are a lot more expressive and experimental with their identity. as a way of avoiding being “stereotypically gay”. Conformity is a way of appeasing the masses, it’s a way of attempting to fit in. Having a fear of being ridiculed can mean we attempt to mask our sexuality and make it less obvious to strangers as a way of blending in, whilst claiming to be truly happy with oneself. Now ask yourself something, if you were truly happy with yourself, would you attempt to hide the realest parts of your identity from others? No.
What you will find is that with time people will start to experiment with their expression more with age. This is the deconstruction of those societal walls in progress. Gradually breaking down what we have been told for years takes time, and we gradually start to be happier with non-conformity. I remember years ago I hated the idea of even having my ear pierced as I wanted to avoid seeming gay. Now; I have both ears pieces and only really wear women’s jewellery, I have my nose pierced, my nails painted, and even the bags and clothes I buy are often meant to be for women. This takes time.
Internalised homophobia can be as small as criticising someone else within the queer community; criticising other gays for being too feminine, criticising other gays for their body image, and the long-lasting unfortunate concept of “bottom-shaming”, yes it is a real thing. Bottom shaming comes from a place of internalised homophobia, it’s the act that bottoms within the community are seen as weaker and less of a “man”. This act of shaming comes from a deep-rooted misogyny. The idea that being to submissive one or the “receiver” is reflected in a females role in heterosexual sex, and that women are in some way less. This is a way of some queer people feeling somewhat superior to others within their community, rather than being supportive. Whether you’d admit it or not, this is a type of internalised homophobia.
The most infuriating part of internalised homophobia for me is the denial by some that homophobia actually still exists. Like sis, that privilege must be real cozy. I have spoken to several people over the years who have stated that we no longer need pride as it brings attention to the fact we’re different or “we have our rights, people will accept us more if we don’t throw it in their faces”. This is so dismissive of the generations of struggles that queer people have faced. It’s almost as if we spent years being persecuted by society and told to conform, and after years of fighting when we finally start to become accepted, people then say “you’ve got what you wanted, why are you still taking about it?”. It’s commemorating the struggles we have been through and celebrating that it’s ok to be different.
The aversion to pride comes from a place of still wanting to fit in or in some way appease the straight community, this is deep-rooted in ignorance. If we were in a society were where every single child could grow up fearless of being whoever they wanted to be knowing that people grow up accepted, THEN we would have achieved our goal. But, we are generations away from that. So long as even so much as a single child grows up with fear of who they are then there is still work to be done.
So, what actually is internalised homophobia? It’s the belief that we still in someway need to appease society by being intolerant of others within the queer community. It’s the belief that we are in someway superior to other members of the community. It’s the proclamation of self-love whilst still being subconsciously apprehensive when expressing our identity. It’s a process coming to terms with internalised homophobia and is not something that we can overcome in one night, it takes time. But, recognising that we may be experiencing it is the first step.