As we grow up, we are exposed to, learn, and taught society's ideas, values, and boundaries. This can include negativity about same-sex attraction, homosexuality, and that not being heterosexual is somehow 'wrong', 'immoral', 'evil', 'sick', 'bad', 'twisted', and 'something to be ashamed of'.
Mainly when we younger, we often accept (at face value) our parent's beliefs, prevailing attitudes in the community, and religious and faith teachings. We may be influenced by the views of friends and work colleagues and, anti-gay laws are still being passed by governments, around the world.
It's not difficult to turn this negative stuff inwards, absorbing it into ourselves, believing it to be true. This can lead to feelings of self-hatred, self-loathing, and disgust which can have damaging and lasting consequences.
This is 'internalised homophobia' also known as 'internalised oppression', and affects and harms people from across the LGBT+ spectrum.
Some experience internal conflicts (which can last for years) over feelings of sexual attraction, a desire to be 'normal', that they should be 'normal' and heterosexual. Some people try to bury or reject their sexuality altogether.
Internalised homophobia gets in the way of having a fulfilling personal life (especially if you are already in a same-sex relationship), can mess with your work life, lowering and crushing self-esteem which leads to anxiety and depression.
Whether you are gay or not, it may be helpful to speak to a trusted friend or contact one of the helplines listed in our support section.
Aquarium | Yonatan Tal | 26 Apr 2015 | 2m 35s
"Gay people are not the only ones to suffer such shame, but experts, both gay and straight, agree that gay kids are overwhelmed with it. Many of us grow up, come out and have wonderful and happy lives. For others, the journey can be rockier. Many bury their feelings, hoping they’ll go away, some psychologically “split”, like the heterosexually married men who believe anonymous internet hook-ups don’t count as gay if they happen in secret. Just this week I met a young man who told me he hated gay pride, hated effeminate men but crucially was trying to work through these feelings by talking about them. The gay community doesn’t talk about this enough, and when we do it’s often with judgment."
Self-loathing among gay people is nothing new. We’re overwhelmed by it | The Guardian | Matthew Todd | 8 Feb 2018
Gay and homophobic? Dealing with internalised homophobia | Xander Tonjaroff | 9 Feb 2017 | 6m 21s
How to Overcome Internalized Homophobia | Gayety | 15 Jul | 2016
Hating yourself because you’re gay | Huff Post | Max DuBowy | 30 Mar 2016