ADDRESSING THE HOMOPHOBIA WITHIN OURSELVES


Homophobia is something that everyone in the LGBTIQA community has likely experienced at some point in their lives. It is a frustrating and damaging phenomenon that is born from a cultural assumption that non-heterosexuality is inherently bad, or somehow inferior to heterosexuality. Often times, homophobia comes from the straight community (albeit often unintentionally!). But sadly, even the most out and proud members of the LGBT community can hold homophobic attitudes without being fully aware of it? This is generally referred to as internalised homophobia.

Internalised homophobia occurs when LGBT people have overgeneralised negative beliefs about themselves or other members of the LGBT community, despite the fact that they themselves are part of this community.

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Many people will be familiar with internalised homophobia as one of the sources of fear about coming out. After coming out, internalised homophobia can still crop up in a number of ways, like: making specific efforts to act straight; only dating “masc” guys or “femme” girls; avoiding jobs or hobbies that are not stereotypically heterosexual (even though they interest you); and disparaging other people (either privately or publicly) for openly expressing their sexuality.

When reflecting on these issues, it can be tough to separate preferences from internalised homophobia. A simple test can be to think about how broadly you apply negative beliefs. For example, if a gay guy happens to be primarily attracted to masc guys, this may just be a preference. However, if he also avoids associating with guys who act in more traditionally feminie ways, or holds negative judgements about these people, then he is likely being influenced by internalised homophobia.

So, why not take some time to reflect on your own beliefs about the LGBT community, and your place in it? The more we think about and discuss these issues, the less influence they will have in our lives.