Internalized Homophobia.....I really did not know that term existed until when I was going through counseling over a year ago, I finally recognized it for what it is! Here is my best definition of the term: "self-guilt, self-hatred, self-destructive impressions to rid oneself of the feelings of same-sex attraction, rarely voiced or shown to anyone external to oneself, a continuous depressive battle."
Having lived in a very closed, strict religious system these feelings of internal homophobia were ever present in my psyche. I had to continually run from them. There were no effective tools provided me to combat these feelings. There were no venues to express this conflict within the religious system.....because if this type of conversation happened, I would be immediately labeled, relationships would change and my growth within this system would cease. Every willing, able, faithful Mormon man wants to grow, learn and lead.......leading his family, leading learning, leading followers back to heaven. That form of leading would be hampered by having honest and open conversations about internal homophobia.....persons that reveal this would and have become 2nd class citizens among the saints. That is why is it SO important to keep this battle internal.
Here is how I kept this battle internal. I hated public bathrooms! This is where I would have the opportunity to "maybe" see things that would be of interest to my gay side. I would avoid these bathrooms like the plague. I hated locker rooms for the same reason. Plus my experiences in locker rooms as a youth were vile, nasty, hateful places to frequent. I would not be easily expressive physically. When someone would hug me, I would be guarded, stoic, and stiff. It would be even worse if the person hugging me was a man. I would even hold my children at arms length because of that same physical uncomfortableness! I do wish I could go back and be different towards my children.....the younger ones are getting a good dose of my physical closeness now. I would look for excuses to not be sexually active in my relationship.
I continued to think, I was broken and this was what the world would get from me! There was many days and nights spent in anguish trying to root this abnormality from my inner-self. Time and time again I tried to extricate these feelings from myself that I would lose sleep, become obsessive, and be very angry with those around me. Again, my children felt the impact of this.....for that I am truly sorry.
There are thousands of men and women that experience the same self-destructive feelings of shame, guilt, worthlessness, and anger. My message to you is come out of that shell, talk about your inner-self. Do not continue to destroy those things that make you...YOU! It does get better.....but there is HELL to pay to get better. It is NOT easy. There are days I want to retreat back into my shell, run from responsibility or give up.....but I cannot. I need to prove to myself that I am worth it, I need to outlast the bastards, I need to find peace.
It is nice to walk into a public bathroom and not feel like crawling out of my skin. I can be physically close to those I love. I have reduced my obsessive behavior....and my anger is subsiding. The change has definitely been worth it.