How to Overcome Internalized Homophobia

Man Looking in the Mirror

Internalized homophobia is a silent killer in the LGBT community, and around the world, that behavior can be even more intense. They go through life with an idea shaped by the culture that living as you are should be suppressed. As a result, we suppress ourselves.

Many of us have internal struggles we hardly understand. It’s widespread in the gay community. If you don’t believe me, log on to Grindr: “No fems” and “Masc only” appear on many profiles, as if it has anything to do with a person’s character.

Why are we so afraid? What are we so afraid of? We spend too much time blaming the world and strangers, rather than allowing ourselves to figure it out on a personal level. If we want to know why we struggle the way we do, we need to dig deeper into our emotional well.

1. Listen to your emotions

Guilt convinces us we did something wrong and are unworthy of joy. Shame tells us we’re not good enough for anything. Embarrassment says we feel bad about ourselves. Anger says who (or what) makes us feel uneasy and ticks us off. When you feel any of these things, it’s time to listen up.

Slip 'em off.

A photo posted by Gayety (@gayety) on

If you don’t listen to yourself, these emotions will build up until all the information becomes too much to bear. If we look to each of these sparks as they happen, one by one, we make it easier to have a clear emotional pathway for us to travel through. It’s sort of like being clairvoyant – we must listen to these voices one at a time before letting them pile on top of each other until we drive ourselves crazy.

2. Find the source of your hatred

No person is born with hateful perspectives – that’s something taught. Allow yourself to be introspective. The next time you feel a spark of anger or hatred, stop yourself. What caused it? Reflect back to a time in your life or childhood that may have been the genesis of it – when was the first time you felt this way?

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Was it something someone said? Something you read about? Jokes you heard repeatedly? The types of friends you hung out with? Cultural pressure? Find the source of the feelings, and look it straight in the eye. Separate yourself from it so that you might become conscious of it when it arises again.

3. Depend on trustworthy people

A lot of times, we are scared to express how we feel because we’re terrified of judgment — this is why it’s important to find people in your life who are trustworthy and use them as a springboard to discover your authentic agenda and moral codes. Being around nonjudgmental people will create opportunities to embrace the same philosophies towards yourself.

If you can trust others, you might be able to trust your intuitive compass. To separate fact from fiction, you must understand the power of trust. It’s all about embracing who you are and knowing that it’s okay to be who you are. Seeing others accept that will allow you to accept it as well.

4. Be your best self

Fulfilling your potential doesn’t have anything to do with your reputation, orientation, gender or role. It’s about how you are as a human being and what you have to offer emotionally, practically and genuinely. Bowing down to social perspectives and expectations doesn’t progress you in any way. In fact, it inhibits you.

5. Be okay with other’s opinions

If we go through life concerned about what others think, we’re never going to embrace our potential truly as a man, friend, lover, and fellow human. The focus should always be straight ahead, not peripherally. Your parents, friends, pastor, heroes don’t matter when it comes to making personal decisions. You have the power to do it.

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Find authentic role models to look up to. Understand that just because you’re gay does not mean you have to change yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re taking a magic pill and turning into a unicorn, or prototypical “image.” You’re still YOU and always will be – the only difference is you’ll be a lot more comfortable.

6. Don’t blame yourself for everything

Sometimes the world deals us a difficult hand. Maybe you weren’t born into a welcoming home. Maybe “Mr. Right” came at the wrong time. Many of us have no one to trust, so we end up blaming our homosexual feelings for it all. We think “it’s my fault I was bullied, it’s my fault my dad isn’t close to me anymore, it’s my fault no one likes me.”

That hair though.

A photo posted by Gayety (@gayety) on

Being gay or bisexual is not anyone’s fault. It just is what it is. You’re born this way – it’s how your brain is structured, how it came to be in the womb. Some people are gay; some people are straight; it’s Mother Nature. To blame yourself is like blaming the sky for being blue. It’s factual, it’s substantial, and blaming it is wasting time on what you’re outraged about.

7. Being masculine is not a straight quality

Masculinity and femininity are personality characteristics – they’re not synonymous with being gay. When you’re uncomfortable around gay people, chances are it reflects something internal you don’t want to acknowledge. It doesn’t have anything to do with them being “fem” – these are exterior traits easy to blame but are never a sole cause for hatred.

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The fear of femininity is a male thing, not a gay thing. We’ve associated feminine behavior as weak or passive because the fear of being gay is ginormous. It blinds logic and rationality of what being gay means. Being gay is a call to nature, not a personality shift. Fighting your feelings is neglecting your true self – you’re smarter than that.

David Artavia is an actor and writer from New York City. He loves living vicariously through his friends. Follow him on Twitter and Like his Facebook page

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