Question

Is the concept “internalized homophobia” relevant anymore? Is it talked about much in the American context? Is it useful in our context (Pakistan? Indian?) ? Discuss.

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7 thoughts on “Question

  1. Of course it’s relevant. Internalized homophobia stems from society’s expectations of who one is. It is demeaning. And, yes, it is very relevant in the Pakistani context where it’s taboo to declare one’s sexual orientation. Ali Saleem (aka Begum Nawazish Ali) is a great example. Even though he appears to be very candid, his recent desire to get married speaks volumes.

  2. When talking about anti-racism, if I say internalized racism, I usually mean white people (especially liberals) who are racist but don’t recognize and acknowledge it, because they think racism only means hate of other races and ethnicities. What I mean is their patronizing/condescending/superiority complex attitudes towards us. But it also means POC (people of color) who have internalized those messages of inferiority that they have learned from their society and culture. Is this what you mean by internalized homophobia? Do you mean hetero people who are homophobic and don’t acknowledge it and maybe not realize it, and/or glbt people who think they are inferior or that something is wrong with them because they aren’t “normal”?

  3. Most definitely I think it’s still relevant. In fact I relate to it quite a lot, and I’m glad you bring it up, because I think I still have some
    old shit that hasn’t really been exorcized. and particularly when I was an adolescent? You betcha.

    And I think it’s not at all rare in the U.S., adults I mean, even now when te times they are a-changing so rapidly; how could it be?
    Yeah, you can go to the city and live in your chosen community, but a lot of people never get there, can’t or don’t want to; and hell, all
    you have to do is turn on your local religious channel–hell, a lot of mainstream TV or radio– to be reminded: oh yeah, a lot of people
    still hate me, they really, really hate me.

    and while in theory one might be so well-adjusted that -maybe they’re right- never insinuates its whispery little way in, but you know something: I don’t know how many people are THAT well adjusted.

    or, well, you know about the ex-gay ministries thing in the U.S.? actually I’ve been wondering if that’s gotten much play in other predominantly Christian cultures. well, and I was thinking I suppose of the mostly- Anglophone ones: Canada, UK, Australia, Ireland; I’ve no idea what’s going on in continental Europe, say, but the impression I get is that most of WEstern Europe, at least, is not nearly as religious as the U.S., and in fact looks at us from across the pond with alarm.
    Sort of the same way we tend to look at y’know primarily Moslem countries (way too many Americans don’t know there’s any difference
    between Turkey or Ayatollah-era Iran, I suspect): tsk, religious zealots, sexual repressives. Because of course we don’t have any of THAT here…

  4. …i guess it’s not entirely fair to only tag religion for it, and yes, there are plenty of tolerant moderate religious folks & being non-religious doesn’t guarantee one isn’t a bigot, homophobic included. but, it’s impossible to talk about the subject without touching on its influence, I don’t think; and I say this as someone who grew up with no -familial- religious influence at all (third generation secular-agnostic Jewish). but, even if it’s not in the law (and to one degree or another it still is in many ways, and if some people get their druthers it’ll be more so), it’s in the air: for us, it’s the Puritan legacy, Calvinism. You’d think, maybe, if you weren’t living here, oh, it’s so secularized, the U.S. And, well, yes and no (and it depends where in the U.S. also, of course).

  5. I do think that yes it’s still relevant and talked about here in the US — I am lucky to be middle-aged and out — plus I came out twenty-some years ago in a family and community that was supportive and pretty queer-friendly. I’m not saying it was easy, but I don’t think it was that much more complicated or horrible than the sexual coming-of-age of my straight friends.

    And even now, with the bi thing, I do struggle with what that means, what it looks like to others, etc. In some ways this has been harder for me than it ever was to come out as a lesbian — and much of that difficulty is internal.

    But I still meet people — young people as well as people my own age & older — who struggle with intense self-hatred and the inability to reconcile their internal reality with external expectations, and they come up thinking that they are the ones that are flawed. And yes, that gets internalized, becomes part of their psyche. They seek to avoid it, or cure it, or fix it. And yes we do need to acknowledge it and talk about it.

    I can’t speak, of course, to the Pakistani/Indian context for it, but I’m interested to hear what youall have to say.

  6. Yes, internalized homophobia is definitely relevant. I’ve seen it in partners and grappled with it myself many times. With regard to partners, I found it really limited their desire, pleasure, and willingness to experiment. For me, I found it took form in uncomfortable avoidance. I’ve always been a kinkster with an out-of-control libido, but I often felt a lot of anxiety about being with women, or even just one certain woman………to the point where I would avoid spending time alone with her. I’d go back and forth with my feelings of disgust for a few days and then eventually would experience a flash of, “you know, I don’t really give a f**ck what society thinks”, grab the phone, call my girl, and let loose. The feelings of disgust were especially poignant when I first came out, and even now, 5 years later, still affects me to certain degree. I’m working on it.

  7. Yeah, I struggle with something that is probably a kind of internalized homophobia: it is consistently difficult to imagine myself successfully finding the life-partner I want to have. I say this is “probably” internalized homophobia because it’s not not directly about feeling shame for wanting to be with women. It’s more the “take home message” into which childhood/adolescent shame at my same-sex desire was distilled. To wit: love is not for me. Other people can have crushes and fall in love and have sex and date and get married, but I can’t. I can be a proud lesbian and march in parades and speak on panels and write about desire and be out, and yet somehow it’s just not entirely ok for me to love. Just because . . . well it just isn’t.

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