Internalized Homophobia- by Spencer 

I don’t know if it’s a natural thing within gay boys but definitely true with myself that how while growing up, I used to be so fascinated with the things that were meant for girls- makeup, lipstick, sarees, dresses, dupattas, kitchen set, and so on. Every time my mom used to take me out for shopping and how I wished to buy a gown or a pretty dress instead of boring jeans and shirts. And today, when I consider myself independent in terms of my decision-making ability, I still am sort of skeptical when it comes to, ‘’What should I wear?’’ While growing up I realized that I could very well get along with girls than boys and while there were other gay boys in the school (visibly queer, identifying as gay), I would try to keep a distance from them for obvious reasons of coming to the visibility. My Undergrads in Delhi and post grads in Bombay gave me a lot of exposure and spaces where negotiating what we call the binaries and the spaces, started happening and I began questioning the basic ideas of appropriating to these binaries. Homophobia comes from this idea of appropriating to the heteronormativity. Simply put, internalized homophobia happens when LGBTQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance, and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true. It has been defined as ‘the gay person’s direction of negative social attitudes toward the self, leading to a devaluation of the self and resultant internal conflicts and poor self-regard.’ (Meyer and Dean, 1998). Or as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998). It comes across as something very complicated that how can somebody identifying as LGBTQ have a disgust, fear or dislike towards themselves. Spending time with gay community can easily help understand how there are so many stereotypes within the community itself. It sounds veryproblematic to me when I logon to the Grindr, or any other gay dating app and see some bros profiles, where people write things like, no trans, no feminine guys, no sissies, only straight acting and so on. Just because a few people can easily pass off the filter for being straight does not make them better and in such cases, heterosexuality is placed above homosexuality in a manner similar to how sexist place masculinity superior to femininity. When I recall the experiences of my last pride in Bombay, I remember going with my female friends and ditching this guy I had been speaking to for a long time. So, this guy says how he doesn’t approve of the flamboyancy and how it affects his image because he gets super uncomfortable around gay boys. He stopped speaking to me after the conversation ended in a debate where I pointed out that he’s suffering from internalized homophobia. There are a lot of cruising spots around Delhi and the country, and it is sad to see how privileged gay men look down upon men who cruise around. Speaking to a lot of gay men in Delhi made me realize how different aspects like class, caste, location, religion, and language can lead to further oppression from within the community. The real culprit of this sort of mentality is the aggressively heterosexist society that continues to define the idea of ‘normal’ and perpetuates the belief in the two-gender system. It continues to decide what is right and what is wrong through the policies, law, culture, medicine, religion, and family. This oppression is institutionalized and it seems impossible to exist outside of it. Internalized homophobia can have negative impacts. It can prevent an individual from living a fulfilling life. It can lead to ruining one’s close relationships. It can put an individual in a position of perpetual sadness, anxiety, and shame. It can perpetuate violence and discrimination, taking the focus away from the real culprit- heterosexism enforced heteronormativity, homophobia, and transphobia by keeping us short sighted and fighting amongst ourselves. To overcome internalized homophobia, critical thinking is required about how it can impact one’s life. Reading and watching stuff related to internalized homophobia and LGBTQ struggle and movements is required for a better understanding and combating it. Interaction with LGBTQ people is important because it helps in the understanding of the concept of identities and that people are different. We have to reach to an understanding that the society and the system is homophobic and this idea has been perpetuated from generation to generation by various institutes. If you feel you have been accused of having it, don’t feel guilty; this is something that was forced on us; in a violent and suffocating way. What we can do is, taking steps to free ourselves from this and moving towards creating a progressive space where everyone can live the way they want to.