“How do I get over internalized homophobia. It’s stopping me from being myself and I hate it.”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
The first step is recognizing the internalized homophobia, which you’ve already done, so you are literal LIGHTYEARS ahead of the curve. A lot of us (myself included) don’t realize what’s making us feel awful until way way way way way down the road. AND THEN we figure out that it has to do with how parents, friends, teachers, and society has made you feel about the LGBTQ community. THEN, WHAT’S MORE, how all of those things have made US feel as a member of the LGBTQ community. We’re taught pretty intensely that “it’s OKAY that someone is gay, gay people are cool, but also you’re not a gay person, which thank god bc gay people aren’t as cool” … YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
I’d like very much to suggest therapy. There are so many things about the way that we lead our day-to-day lives and how we feel about ourselves that we can’t even begin to understand because we’re IN IT. We can’t understand the outside perspective and we can’t begin to work on it because no one has said “Hey, have you thought about this thing that happened that scared you? Maybe that contributes to you still being afraid.” Having someone help you figure those things out is fucking KEY, y’all. It’s so important.
Maybe therapy isn’t the answer for you, maybe writing your feelings out is, maybe talking to some friends, maybe you need to check out a PFLAG group and hear thoughts from other folks.
I think you’re on the right track and I think you’ll get there. You are doing all of the best things for yourself.
Self-forgiveness is a critical part of this, Anonymous.
We are all hardwired by so many of the things and people and words and thoughts that surround us in our day-to-day lives that it becomes a heavy process when we begin to untangle it all. And that, I believe, is why you are feeling things so deeply at this moment… you’ve begun to untangle those ties that bind you. When we are all tied up and, as Dannielle put it, “IN IT,” it is easier to ignore it all and live our lives amidst the tangle as though nothing is wrong. When we begin to see those ties all around us, it can be a sudden and sometimes crippling blow; you are now realizing that you can be more, and that the things and people and words and thoughts that surround you are not true. The journey to combat that within and outside of yourself can seem a harrowing one.
Hell, it can be a harrowing one.
So remind yourself that you’ve just taken the first few steps, and that it is okay if situations and moments arise where those ties pull tight around your chest. Just yesterday I had a conversation with my wife about an experience she had on her flight to Nashville. The woman next to her was very chatty and asked her if she was married and if she was going to have kids and all sorts of other things, and she assumed that my wife was married to man. Well, my wife made the decision not to correct her. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. Does it stem from a place where we are taught that others may think we are less than and so therefore we occasionally occupy that place and remain silent? It sure does. The fragments and pieces of it all are a part of our lives, and they manifest in different ways for each of us. You aren’t bad or wrong for having feelings that creep up and make you doubt who you are. Forgive yourself these moments.
Then, surround yourself with people who believe and fight for equality, people who walk a similar path to your own, and people who love, admire, and believe in you – the complete you. Talk to those people about some of the struggles you have and see if they’ve felt similarly. Recognize the moments when they happen. Journal about them. Practice yoga and meditation if you can, or any activities that help center you on this planet as a worthy, brilliant human being.
It takes time to untangle those ties, Anonymous, but you are doing it. For each one you unravel and drop to the floor, you’ll find a new, shiny piece of yourself to love and appreciate. The real you includes doubtful feelings right now, and that is okay. What the world has taught you, and all of us, is a giant pot full of absolute bullshit. We foster and grow this beautiful community of queer and trans people as a means to fight that bullshit, to re-teach ourselves truth, and to walk each day with our heads held a bit higher.
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