There’s a narrative that we grow up with that sets a certain parameter on how we are expected to measure our success in life. Queerness is never included in that chart of life, and more often than not it’s obscure mentions are there as warnings for people to avoid at all costs lest they be the aunt that lives with her best friend and eighteen cats, or a bachelor uncle that only comes over for Thanksgiving to cause trouble.
Internalized homophobia is pushed on us in every aspect of human-made narrative, and our responses to it have been largely defensive and self-affirming in spite of it. Our movies are sad and our pain makes it to mainstream, and anything more is stuck in our own circles, uninteresting and unrelatable to any other. But I think there is a difference in our community’s fight with internalized homophobia and the one that is so often rampant in us individuals, and this type of it is so much harder to spot and acknowledge, let alone come to terms with.
A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me a selfie. I opened the text and then, in less than a fraction of a second, my finger had scrolled away and a new app sat on the screen as if this moment never happened. Now I know that I’m emotionally stinted and weird about a lot of things, but I never realized the visceral reactions and guilt I have to anyone sharing a photo with me. I took a day to really think about this new discovery. You see, I figured out that it spans from my high school days, mainly them good ol’ locker rooms. Now, no one ever flat out told me anything about ogling people in there, but intrinsically, as I hear many queer people experience, my eyes were glued to the floor the second my foot made it inside, to the point where I wasn’t even sure who was next to me as we all changed. Because what kind of a person would I be if I invaded the privacy of my fellow classmates by being a big thirsty homo in such a vulnerable place. This developed into me feeling like I’m invading people’s privacy by looking at the photos they share with me. That’s messed up man.
There are so many instances of me policing myself, observing my own behavior so as not to offend or encroach on anyone’s personal space. Like for example, whenever I see a queer couple walking down the street, I have an intense fear that if I look at them they will think I’m a homophobe judging them (despite me looking alarmingly unstraight on a good day), but if I don’t look it would be obvious to them that I’m ignoring them and being a homophobe judging them, but if I look then the judging homophobes might draw attention to it and wouldn’t that be homophobic, yet I want to look and see happiness and my type of normalcy. What the hell. So you know what, I want a new chart to measure success in life by, and I want it to be rainbow colored.
What freaky internalized oppression stuff have y’all found? Let’s reminisce in the bullshit that was cast into our privacy.