Internalized Homophobia and Sense of Self

It’s been awhile, friends… almost two years since I’ve posted on this blog. So many of you have been an emotional support for me over the past several years. I certainly hope this finds you. And if none of you are still out there, I hope someone who needs to hear this will read it.

Disclaimer, here: This is a cathartic post, and it’s full of word vomit. It probably won’t be succinct, and I don’t plan on editing it. Whatever comes out will be published. So, here we go!

Let’s Catch Up!

A few things have happened since we last talked. I write for a living now. It’s copywriting, and it’s not sexy work… but it pays the bills and gives me a way to do all the things I love. I’ve also been seeking the Divine in all things. I’ve explored many paths, and all have blessed me in very different ways. I feel the spirit of Jesus at work in my life like never before. I was accepted to Vanderbilt Divinity School (didn’t end up going for financial reasons, but plan on re-applying once my other loans are paid off next year). By far, the most amazing thing is that I got to marry my best friend. We were married in a private ceremony last December by one of the most loving pastors I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Truly God has blessed me.

How to Heal?

When I stopped posting two years ago, I needed to go into hiding. I was too raw. Too hurt. Too weary. And in a lot of ways, I still am. That’s one reason I’m writing tonight. You see, while talking with my wife (I love being able to call her that) a few weeks back, I realized something that never occurred to me in nearly ten years of coming out:

I struggle terribly with internalized homophobia.

Now, many of you who know me might be thinking, “Um… yeah! Of course you struggle with that. It’s obvious.” But what’s crazy is I never even considered it until I started reading about it. Through the years, there are many things I’ve overcome. For example, I don’t avoid gay people. But I used to. I don’t feel negatively toward those who live out and proud. But I used to. And while I may have moved through many of these “symptoms”, I still desperately struggle with other factors.

I have a deep-seated anxiety about what others will think of me when they find out I’m gay. Just. Absolutely. Debilitating. Yet, I still force myself to be transparent with others, because truly, honest-to-God, deep down, there is not a single fiber of my being that believes it is wrong to be gay. Everything I’ve been through on this journey has pointed me toward this belief. My relationship with God is richer and more profound now than ever before. And as always, it is ever-changing and growing. But… I know there are others that pity me, or are disgusted by me. And that thought is just so depressing. I never considered myself to be suicidal before. But when I had to face rejection from so many of my loved ones, it no longer seemed so far-fetched. It was almost comforting to think of having a way out if things got too bad.

This is why I simply cannot be around people who do not accept LGBTQ individuals. I need more than just tolerance. I need acceptance. I need love. And there are plenty of people out there who do love me just as I am. So why waste one more minute around those who just don’t understand? I suppose a part of me will always mourn those that I have lost because of this. And it seems I will just have to learn to live with that.

Truly, in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t really lost many people… not compared to a lot of folks I know. I guess the pain just comes from feeling that rejection from people you really thought you were close to before. And now, this ONE thing changes all of that. Regarding my wedding last year, I had a longtime friend tell me, “I just don’t think this is God’s plan for you.” I cannot tell you how deeply that hurt. It really upsets me when those who know me minimize my journey: That all the pain and prayer was worthless. That my sleepless nights and pleas with God didn’t mean anything. My spirituality is very important to me… and when people just assume I’m willing to throw that away without concern or thought, it hurts.


My Sins

Boy, do I have a lot. Gossip. Ungratefulness. Lust. Worry. Hatefulness. The list goes on and on and on and on. But loving another person fully, deeply, profoundly? Yes… I suppose if you see that as a sin, I am guilty. But I will go to my grave loving her. And I make zero apologies about it.

Social Media and “Being Out”

Another huge stressor for me is social media. The friends I’ve made over the past six or seven years all know I’m gay, and are completely fine with it. It’s the people from my past that send me into a panic attack every time I get a friend request. It’s always the constant struggle: Do I hide? Should I be honest? Do I need to edit my profile? It is just exhausting. And I know ALL of that stems from my internalized homophobia.

I really don’t know how to get past this. I’ve come so far, and I just want to lay this to rest once and for all. I am certainly considering going back to therapy. I don’t know what the right answer is, or even if there is one.

Anyone Else?

My main reason for posting this is to reach out. I’m curious to know if any of you struggle with internalized homophobia. If so, how are you working through it? How do you stop caring? How do you allow your sense of self to be enough?

I truly hope all of you are doing well. I think about this community often. And for those of you wondering… believe it or not, I am still planning on finishing the documentary. (Yes, it’s already two years late.) However, I am considering including my own story. This is scary for me to think about, but I think it’s something that needs to be done. I am also working on a memoir about my experiences. Maybe these things will come to fruition sometime within the next decade… haha!

For now, my friends, I wish you well. Have a beautiful, awe-filled Christmas season. And I’ll try my best to not be a stranger anymore. xoxo

3 responses to “Internalized Homophobia and Sense of Self

  1. Thanks for writing. I was just thinking about this site the other day and what it has meant to me and wondered if I’d see anything come up again.
    This is a good topic you have brought up and your words are appreciated. I suffer from what you are talking about. Sometimes I feel ruined of any hopes to have a person in my life. I cringe to say “I hope to have a wife someday” and it’s because of what I was taught/knew growing up. I lived in a heterosexual world most my life. It doesn’t feel normal or natural for me to say. I believe to be okay to say but at the same time something inside me says it’s not right and is gross. But that’s not what I believe. It’s so hard to explain. It definitely gets in the way of me dating. I don’t really date. It’s not that I think it’s wrong but I feel ruined in that I don’t know how and also I hear those voices that say it’s wrong. But regardless of the battle within me on this, I DO NOT believe gay relationships and gay marriage to be wrong. Everything in my heart and mind knows it to be good and pure.
    To manage this difficult struggle I go rock climbing a lot. I avoid certain environments that are majority heterosexual. I get involved with volunteer work. When it’s really getting to me I have someone I can share with who can put a positive spin and redirect my thoughts. Will it ever go away for good? For me, I doubt it. But it doesn’t keep me from being a good person. I can still enjoy and live a life aimed with love and if by a miracle I get to experience sharing my life with someone special, then I will be grateful.

    • So good to hear from you, Josha! I definitely resonate with what you’re saying. When we hear these things over and over again when we are growing up, no amount of reason will heal it. What I’ve found interesting, is the further I roam from my “bubble” that I grew up in, the more I realize that most people don’t see the world that way. The world — and the Church — is full of people who wholeheartedly love us and make space for us. The first time I met a straight Christian pastor who was an ally, my world changed. Slowly, I realized there are WAY more out there. The Church is going though growing pains. And I think things will become easier for LGBTQ individuals as the generations come and go.

      I know we’ve never met in person, but it is so clear that you have a pure and righteous heart. I’m so sorry you still have to go through this. I wish I knew the answer, but maybe we can be here for each other. Sending lots of love to you and yours today!

  2. Hi Mandy – Like Josha, I was thinking of this blog the other day. A mutual friend directed a hetero-married Christian woman to me who is pondering whether and how to come out and/or to divorce her (serially unfaithful) husband. I spoke to her about this blog, but told her unfortunately I was not sure it was active anymore.

    I want you to know, if I did not say so before, how important your writing was to me back in 2013 when I was figuring things out. I want to encourage you to keep writing; I think what you have to say is very real and helpful to people like us. So, when you are ready to communicate again, I feel confident that your audience will be ready to hear.

    Now, to your current (well, November ’17) musings. I am not sure I feel as you or Josha do concerning internalized homophobia, but I do confess to not having a settled foursquare-sense of rightness and wrongness when it comes to being an LGBTQ person. I follow the QChristian discussion boards as people go back and forth about whether and how people can be gay and Christian. Mostly, though, I am exhausted of the arguments and no longer find either side of the arguments compelling.

    I guess I have reached a peace in my own soul about it, and that is that my sexual orientation “Is what it is.” I am not interested in defending it to someone who wants to make it their business. What I do want to do is to continue following this person named Jesus the best I am able, to love God first, and my neighbor as myself. I have a very sweet woman in my life who has become my partner of five years, and just loving her as I love myself is challenging enough. We are fortunate to live in a community that has welcomed both of us, and blessed to have an excellent pastor who loves and cares for both of us, even though my partner does not attend church.

    I would say this, though. Jumping ship from a form of Christianity that rejects our lives fundamentally is terrifying. We get caught in the wake and drowning is a distinct possibility because no one on board is flinging us a life preserver. We need to make our own life preservers – new friends, new identities, and most importantly, a new belief system about God, our relationship to him, and the nature of reality. (How is that for an extended metaphor?) We have to realize that that form of Christianity is never going to sanction our lives and stop expecting it to. We have to work out our own salvation – with fear and trembling – like everyone else.

    Take good care of yourself and your “wife” 🙂 Congratulations to you both!

    With deep respect, Erin

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