Undoing the Velcro Effect of Internalized Homophobia

Undoing the Velcro Effect of Internalized Homophobia

Internalized homophobia is a certain kind of fear-based Velcro Effect (explained below) that mainly LGBT people experience.  Internalized homophobia refers to societal negative stereotypes, beliefs, stigma, and prejudice about LGBT people that are consciously or unconsciously internalized by a person who is LGBT. The degree to which someone is affected by these ideas depends on how much and which ideas they have internalized. Sometimes internalized homophobia shows up as outright self-hatred.  “I hate myself for being gay.”  In other situations, where one has worked through self-loathing to a large degree by coming out and gaining acceptance from friends and family members, the internalized homophobia is much more subtle, appearing like a shadow projected onto others who are perceived to be judgmental towards you, a LGBT person.  “I accept myself but they don’t accept me.”  That’s still a lack of self-acceptance, no matter how cleverly the mind tries to disguise it as someone else’s problem In the Living Inquiries, we use the term “Velcro Effect” to describe the experience of thoughts (i.e., words and pictures) feeling stuck to bodily energies (i.e., emotions and sensations).  Let’s say you are sitting with a friend and he criticizes you, calling you lazy.  You instantly feel defensive as his critical words replay themselves over and over in your head.  You find yourself swimming in stories of self-judgment and anger for the rest of the day.  You hear thoughts like, “He doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about,” “I’m not lazy,” and “Maybe he is right, maybe I’m depressed.”  As those thoughts arise, you feel tightness in your stomach and anger in your chest.  The experience of those thoughts arising with the bodily energies of tightness and anger is the Velcro Effect.  The Velcro Effect is, essentially, self-identification.  It’s old conditioning resurfacing, often as a response to a trigger happening in your immediate environment. Read More Growing up gay, before coming out, I experienced the Velcro Effect quite often, in sometimes very palpable and scary ways, when I felt uncomfortable in my own skin about being gay.  That was more like the “outright self-hatred” version.  But I also remember, long after coming out, walking into restaurants with my boyfriend in the Midwest and feeling as if the eyes around me were judging us.  This kind of internalized homophobia wasn’t as obvious.  It didn’t look like my problem.  They were judging ME.  The thoughts and feelings were much more subtle.  Truth is, I was judging myself still.  This was internalized homophobia, too ugly for me to accept within myself, so I projected it onto others. Some of the people around me may have been, in fact, judging us.  But why did it bother me...

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The Current Political G-Spots: God and Gays

The Current Political G-Spots:  God and Gays

Scott Kiloby, July 1, 2013 There are many possible perspectives on the gay marriage issue, each of them partial.  This is merely one perspective. Now that the historic Supreme Court gay marriage decisions have been handed down, the summer of 2013 centers on two political G-spots:  God and gays.  As I watch the talking heads on both sides of the debate,  it seems on the surface that the central issue is “What would Jesus do?”  Would he cry in the face of this moral decay or would he think that gay marriage is fabulous?  Religious gay marriage opponents are citing God as the ultimate authority.  And the LGBT community is scrambling to meet them in that argument somehow, as difficult as it is to argue with the idea “This is God’s law.”  What a show stopper! This union of sex and religion is nothing new.  These two have been strange bedfellows for centuries.  But the tension between religion and sexual identity is magnified on the issue of gay marriage because of its potential social and political implications.  As I watched the mental sword fight, I saw something which felt more deeply-rooted here, buried beneath the surface issue of God and gays.  There are emotional wounds running the show on both sides of the equation.  This debate can be seen as much more than a question of who should be able to marry or even a question of morality, religion, or sexuality.  At its very core, like most human issues, it’s about identity.   Read More I could hear the subtext of the religious opponents of gay marriage taking the form of the story, “I’m unsafe,” (or a similar story).  “Gays are ruining our society” is a really scary thought!  But what is really being threatened?  Is God being threatened by well-decorated gay summer weddings or is the identity behind the religious belief itself being threatened?  I imagine it is the latter. Sometimes when I watch and listen to the fear and disgust, disguised by religious rhetoric, I can’t help but see that an emotional wound is talking, not a religious zealot. And, in many cases, I see the same on the other side.  Of course the arguments in favor of gay marriage have merit.  I support gay marriage 100%.  On the surface this is about equality and benefits.  Those are sound arguments.  But mental arguments are so often less about logic and more about defining and strengthening identity.  Asserting LGBT identities are important to assert at first, in order to start the conversation of equality.  But they lose their power when we hide what is really going on within us.  We are all hurting and feeling threatened by other. ...

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