the contrarian

United States

Proud member of Dumbasses Inc.
Profile is by Sara Kipin.

Anti-gun, pro-choice, very queer, an ally of BIPOC, and supporter of the BLM movement. Read my pieces. Educate yourself.

Joined 2018. Left 2020.

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Let's Talk About: Internalized Homophobia and Compulsory Heterosexuality

June 21, 2020

FREE WRITING

17

Table of Contents:
i. Introduction
ii. Internalized Homophobia
  • What is Internalized Homophobia?
  • My Experience with Internalized Homophobia
iii. Compulsory Heterosexuality
  • What is Compulsory Heterosexuality?
  • My Experience with Compulsory Heterosexuality

i. Introduction
This piece will involve mentions of my personal experience with both internalized homophobia and compulsory heterosexuality. In honor of Pride Month, I will continue writing articles like these to educate all of you on some of the inner workings of the LGBTQ+ community. There are still a few more topics that I have queued up, but I’m always open to more ways to properly educate myself and others. If you have anything you’d like me to write about in regards to Pride month, don’t be afraid to put them in the comments! The most I ask of you is to keep in mind that some of these pieces take longer to write, so I might not be able to get to what topic you asked me to write about. 

Disclaimer: My experiences with internalized homophobia and compulsory heterosexuality do not speak for all who’ve experienced one or both. For the love of everything holy, don’t put words in my mouth. I am speaking for myself, and if others want to share their experience in the comments, I am all for it. 

Now, let’s put a few things on the table. I, The Contrarian (alt. contrarian, rari, rian, dumbass, etc.), use she/her pronouns mainly. However, I couldn’t give a damn if someone used they/them when referring to me, because gender is just a construct that strengthens the hierarchy (just kidding! unless...). Also, I’m gay. If you couldn’t tell. So, the reason why I deem it necessary to address these topics is that I believe that there are probably a few marginally confused kids on this site. Whether they be allies of the LGBTQ+ community, a part of it, or vehemently against anything involving queers (unfollow me if that’s the case and never speak to me ever again), it’s always good to try to educate yourself. 

To be fair, I’m making it easy for you. I go out of my way to write these pieces. And to those who read them thoroughly, thank you. 

ii. Internalized Homophobia

What is Internalized Homophobia?

According to Cultural Bridges to Justice, internalized homophobia is “the involuntary belief by lesbians and gay men that the homophobic lies, stereotypes, and myths about them (that are delivered to everyone in a heterosexist / homophobic society) ARE TRUE.” 

Heterosexism is discrimination or prejudice against non-heterosexual people based on the belief that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality. So, if you’ve ever seen the arguments against queer men and woman (e.g., “The Bible says…” or “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” and its varying counterparts, “It’s just wrong for two women/men to get married,” etc.), then there are some of your more light-hearted examples. 

Now, you might be thinking, “Hey, stupid, what do you mean “light-hearted?” Those are already awful examples, aren’t they?” Which, yes, they are terrible, but if you think those are bad, then you’ve got a big storm coming! I’m being nice and censoring all of the violent parts of this stuff. Verbal degradation is its own level of disgusting, but physical assault and/or hate crimes are, in my opinion, worse.

Heterosexism also has a better-known cousin, heteronormativity. When something is heteronormative, it is relating to behavior or attitudes consistent with traditional male or female gender roles and the assumption of heterosexuality as the norm. For example, if I say that the United States has a marginally heteronormative culture, I’m saying that many people in America align with the gender hierarchy - men are above women. Men are dominant, and women are supposed to be subservient to men, et cetera. Keep in mind that this isn’t as true as it used to be, but there’s still a good majority that thinks this way.

And their most famous relative is homophobia! Imagine that. If you somehow don’t know what homophobia means, don’t let the “phobia” part of it fool you! Most definitions say that it’s an irrational fear, but it’s really just a half-assed excuse to hate gay people— which circles back to the main topic at hand: Internalized homophobia.

My Experience with Internalized Homophobia

Now, if you’re a kid who lives with a conservative family, there’s a high chance that your parents are on the diverse spectrum of homophobia! For example:

“I’m not homophobic, but…” Still means you’re homophobic.

“Gays are okay, as long as they don’t shove it down my throat.” Oh, my bad! I never meant to offend you by showing affection to my good friend, who is also female. But when a man and woman do it in public, it’s okay, right?

[Referring to any gay couple seen, whether it be in person or on the news] “I don’t need to see that… stuff.” Said stuff is normal people existing and being themselves. Sorry if that’s too spicy for you, Karen.

Alternatively, using a transgender person’s deadname (the name they were assigned at birth rather than the name they go by at the time of the event). The same goes for their respective pronouns. 

Et cetera, et cetera. 

Not all parents are like this, but that should be common sense. There are wonderful, accepting parents who love and support their children no matter their sexuality. Which, go them! But I don’t have parents like that, so we’re not focusing on those kinds of parents. When you’re raised in a household that doesn’t accept a significant part of who you are, sometimes you start thinking that you’re the problem! 

Worst case scenario, you reject the fact that you like the same sex and recoil when you see two men/women kissing or being happy together, having a mixed reaction of “that’s disgusting,” and “I want that.” You hold your tongue or try to smile and nod along when you hear family members insult the LGBTQ+ community, and laugh when a relative asks if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet when you’re confident that you’ll never date someone of the opposite sex.

iii. Compulsory Heterosexuality

What is Compulsory Heterosexuality?

According to the Equality Archive (which says a lot of things I don’t personally agree with, but it had the best definition I could find), compulsory heterosexuality, a term popularized by poet Adrienne Rich in her 1980 essay Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence, is “a system of oppression that denies people’s sexual self-determination by presenting heterosexuality as the sole model of acceptable sexual and romantic relationship.”

Note that this doesn’t apply to just queer people, but it does affect us a lot more. It’s just this vague idea that ties closely to a mainly heteronormative (and homophobic) culture. Compulsory heterosexuality deems that the only socially acceptable relationship is one between a man and a woman, thus further supporting heterosexist ideals. Sounds pretty similar to what I mentioned earlier, right?

Women are usually taught from a young age that their value comes from how men perceive them. Men are generally taught that they’re above women, that they should be dominant and stubborn and always right, which is, in both cases, inherently wrong. This should be obvious, but the only person who is allowed to tell you your worth is yourself. No man, woman, or any other person, regardless of their importance in your life, has the right to tell you how beautiful or ugly you are. 

My Experience with Compulsory Heterosexuality

If you remember a couple of things I said in the introduction, I said I was gay. Of course, combine that with internalized homophobia, and you get a weird mutant baby that screams at me that I like men on the daily. I tell myself that my homosexuality is just a phase (it’s not), I just need to find the right man (I don’t), and one day I’ll be married to a nice, rich man and settle down with a couple of kids.

I won’t. Even if I were straight, I wouldn’t want kids. I can’t even take care of myself.

And yet! The beauty of heterosexuality and my mind stubbornly trying to convince me that I love men, I would date and marry a man, I should go out of my way to flirt with men, and I should not ever flirt with women has been a staple in my life since I first felt attracted toward another girl (circa. 2016, probably). It probably won’t ever go away, neither will my internalized homophobia, because that’s just the kind of person I am. Besides, old habits die hard, and you can’t kill the immortal. 

Anyway, that’s all about these two topics! If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them in the comments below. 

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3 Comments
  • Villi V

    This is so important. Thank you for making this


    5 months ago
  • poetri

    I was trying to explain this to someone the other day but wasn't doing a very good job. This piece is INCREDIBLE and oh so helpful and needed. Will definitely be pointing people to it. Thank you so much for writing it <3


    5 months ago
  • chrysanthemums&ink

    as always, thank you for taking your time to write these wonderfully informative pieces for us. people NEED to see this. it isn't enough to 'support' a movement, you have to be educated about it too. thank you for writing this <33


    5 months ago