What is Internalized Homophobia?

Internalized Homophobia. © KAT JACKSON

Question: What is Internalized Homophobia?

Answer: In its most general definition, internalized homophobia is a self-loathing of someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans and does not want to be. But there are many more subtle ways that this plays out in our community. 

Because there are so many negative stereotypes about gays, lesbians and bisexuals in popular culture and religion, gays and lesbians often turn that into hatred for themselves. This is called internalized homophobia. Internalized homophobia can be blatant, like the person who attempts to change their sexual orientation by Reparative Therapy or the young LGBT person who attempts suicide because they would rather be dead than be gay. 

Internalized homophobia can be more subtle. For example, some lesbians may be uncomfortable or embarrassed by more butch or stereotypical lesbian-looking women. Gay men may act ultra-macho to hide the fact that they're gay. They may not even be aware that they have these feelings. Or they may not recognize the feelings as internalized homophobia.  

Some may think people in the community who are too flamboyant, too out, or too political reflect poorly on you--or on gays and lesbians as a whole. Someone may be accepting of herself as lesbian, but not of the greater gay community. She may not want to associate with other LGBTs.

These are all examples of internalized homophobia. 

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