We already know that a certain percentage of homophobes are gay. This is a researched and established fact. But, just to be clear, not all homophobes are homosexual.
This is also a fact. But those who are intrigue people nowadays as much as they did in the past. Why would you refuse to acknowledge who you are if denying it makes you so unhappy?
And most of all, why would you attack those that do so virulent?
In other words, what makes someone gay become homophobic up to the point where he would even deny his own nature and go against others’ rights? Because, no matter how you would like to look at it, homophobia has serious social consequences today, up to the point where gays are even executed for what they are. So what do the science says?
The term of “internalized homophobia” is used when a proponent of the LGBT community is subjected to a lot of negative perceptions and stigmas related to his sexual orientation and eventually ends up believing them to be true. It somewhat acts as a defense mechanism, where the subjects actually feel better. What is even more curious is that none of those suffering from it actually realize that. But there are certain features to look for when trying to see whether you suffer from internalized homophobia or not, such as:
1. Denial – being unable or unwilling to accept the sexual lust towards the same gender.
2. Living a secret gay life you are ashamed of
3. Forcing your partner to stay in the closet for various reasons
4. Being particularly aggressive when considered gay
5. Trying to compensate the guilt you feel by engaging in homosexual relationships through exaggerated hatred and violence towards LGBT individuals.
Any of these should raise an alarming signal. Furthermore, internalized homophobia is that much more visible in societies that have anti-gay politics and punish or forbid such a sexual behavior.
“Before Stonewall (let alone World War II), it is often said, gay people lived in a closet that kept them isolated, invisible, and vulnerable to anti-gay ideology. While it is hard to imagine the closet as anything other than a prison, we often blame people in the past for not having had the courage to break out of it . . . , or we condescendingly assume they had internalized the prevalent hatred of homosexuality and thought they deserved to be there. Even at our most charitable, we often imagine that people in the closet kept their gayness hidden not only from hostile straight people, but from other gay people as well, and, possibly, from themselves.” declared George Chauncey, professor of history and expert in the study of modern day homosexuality.
Even more, it seems like internalized homophobia has a serious physical and mental effect on those experiencing it, including low self-esteem, eating disorders, depression, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse and an eternal cycle of suffering for both those affected and those around them. This is what is known as minority stress and yes, there are a lot of homophobes suffering from it.
However, like we have said, this does not mean that all homophobes fall into the same category. Some are just religious bigots and morons, not being able to understand simple facts like the one showing that homosexuality is natural and that gay people deserve to have the same rights as heterosexuals do. But those who manifest internalized homophobia place themselves in the position of a victim.
You could think that their position is a bit hypocritical, because even if they are suffering from it, by their attitude they cause more suffering to those around them, LGBT members, who have done nothing wrong and all they want is to benefit from the same social acceptance every other individual does.
In this regard there is no difference between someone suffering from internalized homophobia and a genuine homophobe, who is just stupid. The effect is the same: attacking and virulently rejecting the rights of gay people. And this is not the way to a more civilized and morally acceptable society.