Lesbianne Musings

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Internalized Homophobia

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OKAY,  I know I have it but what is it and most importantly, how do I get rid of it?

Do any LGBTQ folks NOT have it, or if you did and got FREE of it how did you do that?

 This is not a scholarly paper so please do not expect explicit definitions or education.

What is IT? It is an uncomfortable feeling in my gut that makes itself known when I am being “out” in any public way. Even when I am talking to my partner on the phone within earshot of family members, friends, or strangers. When I am about to part ways with her in a public place such as a restaurant, parking lot or an airport and would like to share a warm kiss and hug without that tightness in my stomach and the nervousness that makes me stop breathing and causes every little nerve in my body to be vigilant to the scolding or worse that is about to be directed our way.

Many years ago when I was in my first committed relationship, and very much in love, we were sitting in our own private car in a parking lot of a small shopping center. We were feeling romantic and shared a few lovely kisses before I turned to the wheel to drive away. As we parted I happened to glance out the passenger window past my lover and looked right into the face of a middle-aged woman who was staring at us from her vehicle, mouth agape, and shaking her head in a slow disbelieving, shaming way. Being who I am I gave her a huge grin and a little wave, while inside me,  except for the mosh pit in my stomach,  the rest of my body went tight and still and I could barely breathe.

The lesbians I know who are out, and that in particular includes Butches living openly Butch lives, I admire immensely. From listening to friends’ stories and reading Butches blogs online I’ve learned that getting to be open, out and true to yourself, is often a process. My partner tells me stories about trying to find herself, going through different phases such as her “femme” phase which didn’t fit, until she ended up as a Butch in all her handsomeness and being very comfortable there.  I don’t know that she ever experienced internalized homophobia, though, because she has a strong attitude of “if you don’t like the way I look, don’t look”. Also she has known she was a lesbian since childhood. I didn’t know I even had the option, never mind the feelings, until I was near 30.

By that time I had a background of conservative, fundamentalist religious teachings, where it seemed almost  everything was a sin. I’d known of stories of gays and lesbians who had been persecuted, bullied, and worse.

Perhaps I’m being unrealistic by wanting to be able to walk proudly on the street holding hands with my sweetheart, and feeling peaceful inside. Perhaps it is wisest to behave “with proper decorum” in order to keep myself safe. But that isn’t what I want. But after all, aren’t public displays of affection frowned upon in our culture, even if the couple is straight? Maybe, but they don’t have to worry about taunting, beatings, losing jobs or homes because of who they love, or because of who they were making out with on the secluded bench in the park.

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13 Comments

  1. Ava

    I am ashamed to admit having no prior experience, I do believe everyone has a right to happiness. I apologize on behalf of those who have made you feel unworthy. I think the mission statement embedded in your last blog was most eloquent and truthful: “claiming myself as a woman who deserves to take up space in this world and to breathe the air I breathe.” I hope you never lose this perspective nor the fact there are many people who love you and support you going forward.

    • Thank you for your reply, Ava. Yes, FREE to be ME.

  2. Regina

    Fuck homophobic people . That Is all.

    • Thank you for your reply, Regina. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and opinions.
      I hear your strong feelings on this subject. Would you be willing to share a particular experience
      to help us better understand your point of view?

      • regina

        Fired from job when i first came out. Grew up being taught that all homosexuals were going to burn in hell. My mom telling me homosexuals were okay as long as they didn’t raise kids or do it in public. Almost losing my daughters because I was a foster parent in a state that made it illegal to adopt or foster children if you were a homosexual. Being told all you need is a good man and you wont be a homosexual anymore. Seeing so many crimes against humanity in the name of religions in general. Having my girlfriend blatantly ignored as a man tried to convince me to have sex with him. Being looked and and judged by so many people for being gay. Being told that a dear friend loves me and that she prays for my soul. That I may one day get right with the lord.Being “accused of being a lesbian in high school . Before I even knew I was gay. Experiencing homophobic hate before I even KNEW I was gay. So at this point in my life. These and many other instances of homophobic descrimination. I have decided . It is not my job to educate or set an example of how good I am because I need to justify being a lesbian. Fuck Homophobes ! Works so much better for me. Just fuck em. Live your life and you do you boo.

      • Regina, thank you for sharing your painful life experiences with us. Your openness will encourage others to come forward to share their own life experiences. One person at a time we can help to change the world into a place of love and acceptance for others despite differences.

  3. Wonderful post Anne. Thanks for continuing to share with us.

    • Thank you for your reply, DCfemme. I appreciate your support.

  4. Jayne

    Anne, I just wanted to say that I have gone through the same emotional turmoil that being “out” brings. The looks, the mutters under homophobes’ breath, the outright workplace bullying for even mentioning my partners name. Men constantly ogling me & their statements “I can turn you”.

    Now I have to say that although I still struggle sometimes with public displays of affection, I am me. If you don’t like me for who I am, then I really don’t care for your opinion.

    Thankyou for sharing!

    • Jayne, Thank you for having the courage to pave the path for others. One day LGBT persons will rejoice and embrace themselves rather than hide.

  5. Elizabeth

    As a child my mother told me everyone may not like you or like what you do. She was a single teen mother of twins. She would tell me how she was treated how people looked at her. Growing up and hearing her stories and seeing some of the ways people treated her I grew a tough skin. With that being said now I am an adult, I am a lesbian, and I am married to my wife. I will be me no matter where I am. Being a lesbian IS normal in my life, in my world. I feel no shame in my life. I have never met a person who is perfect.

    • Elizabeth, “I feel no shame in my life”. Beautiful words. Thank you for sharing your personal life experiences. “Being a lesbian IS normal in my life” is what I strive for. Thank you for sharing hope and inspiration with us. Your mother was/is a courageous woman. Your strength is admirable, as is hers. One day your world may be the same world for all LGBT people. Stories of acceptance, and hope, are spreading slowly over the earth even as we speak.

  6. Great post! Me being a gay man, I have also had the same feelings and experiences as others have indicated in their comments. Thank you everyone for sharing, I appreciate you!

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