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What is Internalised Homophobia?

Homophobia is good for no one. When you’re trying to figure out your own same-sex attraction, any pre-existing prejudices towards homosexuality can become turned on yourself. This can culminate in feelings of shame, guilt and self-hate – which don’t do our mental health any good.

When negative homophobic stereotypes and anti-gay beliefs and attitudes are internally accepted leading to a subjective reaction including feelings of shame, self-disgust and self-hatred.

This internal self-oppression can create a vulnerability for same-sex attracted guys around mental health, self-esteem and relationships while things like alcohol and drug abuse can become a coping mechanism.

Internalised homophobia can take many forms, including:

  • Denial of your sexual orientation to yourself and others.
  • Attempts to alter or change your sexual your orientation.
  • Feeling you are never good enough.
  • Engaging in obsessive thinking and/or compulsive behaviours.
  • Under-achievement or even over-achievement as a bid for acceptance.
  • Low self-esteem, negative body image.
  • Contempt for the more open or obvious same-sex attracted men.
  • Contempt for those that are not like ourselves or contempt for those who seem like ourselves. Sometimes distancing by engaging in homophobic behaviours – ridicule, harassment, verbal or physical attacks on other same-sex attracted people.
  • Projection of prejudice onto another target group.
  • Attempts to pass as heterosexual, sometimes marrying someone of the other sex to gain social approval or in hope of ‘being cured’.
  • Increased fear and withdrawal from friends and relatives.
  • Shame or depression; defensiveness; anger or bitterness.
  • Continual self-monitoring of one’s behaviours, mannerisms, beliefs, and ideas.
  • Unsafe sexual practices and other destructive risk-taking behaviours-including risk for HIV and other STIs.
  • Separating sex and love, or fear of intimacy. Sometimes low or lack of sexual drive or celibacy.
  • Substance abuse, including drink and drugs.
  • Thinking about suicide, attempting suicide.
  • Fear of discovery - where a person may try to hide his sexual orientation from family, friends, work colleagues, etc., by “passing” as straight. He may also “pass” to protect others, i.e. pretending that his partner with whom he lives with is “just a good mate”.

If you think you've experienced internalised homophobia – don’t further beat yourself up over it, the first step to addressing it is to identify it for what it is.

Don’t forget there’s a whole range of support services on our “Support” page for you to access - check it out!