“I am bisexual, but to be fair, I do tend to go for men rather than women. At least usually. It is because naturally I tend to get attracted to men, but it does not mean that I do not like women or that I would not find myself becoming attracted to them. At the same time, I look straight, don’t I? I mean, I would feel so uncomfortable flirting with a girl in a club, because of how I look and that, plus it is so much easier to just make out with a guy. I mean, they will just come up to me anyway, and if I do choose to discreetly flirt, then what mistakes could occur?”
I suppose that this could be coming out of my own mouth. I am bisexual, and I do claim that I prefer men over women. Nonetheless, there have been many times where I have questioned this, because let us face it, women are hot ASF! Therefore, what is causing so many of us to still turn away from what we are attracted to, despite all the progress that has been made?
What is Internalised Homophobia?
Everybody knows what homophobia is. According to the language, it is a fear of those who are not heterosexual, nonetheless generally it is seen as, and is more of a hatred against gay people. Nonetheless, internalised homophobia has only gained traction recently and it refers to “when a person consciously or unconsciously accepts homophobic biases and apply these biases to themselves.” This often stems from learning prejudiced beliefs during early childhood, which then develops as they become older. The reason for this is because of the assumption that being heterosexual is the “norm” and the “correct way to be.” This can look like people hiding their sexuality from others, being in a heightened concern about getting into a homosexual relationship, or even denying their sexuality to themselves to others.
But how come when Homophobia “doesn’t exist?”
Any LGBT+ person would tell you otherwise, however, it is more than reasonable to contest that life is a lot easier for LGB people now than it was 50 years ago. However, if we investigate this further, it can easily be seen how life is not yet exactly super easy for LGB people. For a start, in Northern Ireland “the average age for men to realise their sexual orientation was 12, yet the average age they actually confided in someone was 17.” This illustrates how scared young people are of opening up about something which they realised a long time ago. Clearly showing that young people are afraid to come forward about something that plays a significant part in their lives, and there are obviously going to be reasons why this is the case.
Causes of Internalised Homophobia
The most obvious cause, yet a cause which is sadly quite common today, is because of “antigay bias.” This can result in someone choosing to hide their sexuality because of biases. This can include bias from family, friends, or people at work. A similar cause is heterosexualism, which “refers to the notion that heterosexuality is normal and the default.” This can lead to LGBT+ people feeling that their identities are not the “norm,” resulting in them either being reluctant to tell them what their identity is, concealing their sexuality by dressing to “look straight” as an example, or even denying how they may feel about someone they like. Meanwhile accelerators of internalised homophobia can include religious conservatism, lack of social support and exposure to Non heterosexual identities. While this may seem like a world far away from reality, especially from the point of view of non-homosexual people who mostly claim not to have a problem with homosexual people, the fact is that “51% said that they or a family member from the LGBTQ+ communities had experienced violence because of their sexual orientation”, according to a poll.
How it can Manifest
For a start, consciously or unconsciously, internalised homophobia can result in someone trying to “hide” their sexual orientation from others, by “passing as straight.” This may even include someone trying to “pass”, such as pretending that their partner is “just a good mate”, rather than as a partner, to avoid them from being hurt. Further, it can lead to “Poor relationship quality, Mental health complications and Chronic stress.” In fact, gay people are 2.5 times more likely to experience major depression, anxiety disorder, and substance use disorders, and four times more likely to attempt suicide during adolescence.”
How can we Improve this?
Before we can begin working on what the cause of internalised homophobia is, we need to realise how homophobia is still rampant. For a start, there are still many homophobias perceived in mainstream religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Furthermore, in some countries, “applicants and current employees can be legally passed over or fired for being non-heterosexual or perceived as non-heterosexual.” What is more is that being LGBT+ puts people at a greater risk of poverty, where the Trevor project estimates 40% of the American homeless are LGBT+, meanwhile 10% of the general US population are homeless. Therefore, to reduce the internalised homophobia which plays a substantial role in the lives of LGBT+ people, we first need to address the amount of homophobia in our modern society, meaning that we need to work on the objects that they face in society. Meanwhile, LGBT+ culture needs to be exposed more to the mainstream, to reduce the extent of anti-gay bias. This can include TV programs featuring more homosexual couples.