On The Internalization of Homophobia

Symeon Oshea — Community

Within the queer community, one problem that is often constantly faced is the external pressures to conform to heteronormative dating standards. Instead of addressing complaints/effects, let us take a look at the causation of this — internal homophobia.

Hard pill to swallow, but a large percentage of LGBTQ+ identifying youth tend to endure emotional or sexual trauma during childhood/adolesence. Some are subconsciously taught to repress sexual desires or their sexuality out of fear of retailiation (from community, family, friends, etcetera). This social stigma can be magnified to the nth degree when you add in religion and the expectation to conform to “traditions’’.

Internalized sexual stigma (more commonly known as internalized homophobia) is the personal acceptance of sexual stigma as apart of one’s value system of self. It is taking the biases towards the queer community and pointing them inward. Psychologically, it is a concept that has been studied for years and one where that continues to be shrouded in nuance. It is very important to address these stigmas surrounding internal homophobia. Queer identifying individuals who do not positively deal with this tend to find it extremely difficult to find adequate healthcare, healthy relationships/setting healthy boundaries, and an increased risk of mental illness or substance abuse.

One primary line of research has focused on the effects of living as a sexual minority in society. They go on to study the effects that this stress may have on a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identifying individual. In 1995 Ilan H. Meyer used the Internalized Homophobia Scale (IHS) to measure the extent at which gay men have discomfort surrounding their sexual orientation and their efforts to supress homosexual feelings.

Further, there is an increased risk for internalized homophobia in individuals that have been victimized by hate crimes directed toward them due to their perceived sexual orientation, thinking that they may have in some way deserved being victimized in this manner.

Awareness is vital in making sure that upcoming (and current) generations are privy to societal stigmas. Being aware and spreading awareness are two of the best things you can do to help promote a society where one is not judged based on who they decide to sleep with, but rather the value that one provides to society. Accountability is the last thing you can do, holding yourself and those around you accountable for the stigmas that they decide to enforce or internalize on a routine basis.

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