Monday, January 11, 2010

Self-Hating Homos

With all the changes in attitude and tolerance over the past few decades, I wonder why there are still so many self-hating homos out there -- you've mentioned them in several of your posts both here and over at JATGAB. Why does this self-hated persist? Is there something in the psyche of the American male? Does it relate to the persistence of macho images and their approval in our culture? JD.

Gay men still have an incredibly negative image in our society -- world-wide, I might add -- which is still awash in machismo of the worst kind. But gay self-hatred has many causes. Religious attitudes and upbringing can certainly do a number on gay people. Children raised in homophobic households can grow up with little sense of self-worth. There are kids living in our streets right now who got thrown out of their homes when they came out of the closet. [Luckily some of these kids already formed a gay identity, and may not grow up with the self-hatred that afflicts others.]

Then we have people who simply feel inferior for one reason or another, and it may not have anything to do with their sexual orientation. But if they have trouble dealing with their other insecurities, being gay may be seen by them as another thing to worry and be insecure about -- they hate that they're gay and they turn the hatred inwards.

Then we have the disaffected. Every society and every group has people who simply never develop real social skills or graces, the "geeks" or "nerds" or "weirdos." Often these people learn to channel their non-conformity in healthy and exciting directions, but as for the others ... ?These people feel rejected by their peers, by they classmates, co-workers, or in the case of gay people, other gays. So they begin to despise the gay community -- and themselves.

Then we have people whose lives haven't worked out the way they wanted for one reason or another. It may be due to their own actions (or lack of same) bad luck or timing, or a combination thereof. Whatever the case, they tell themselves that they wouldn't be unhappy, that life would have worked out, if they were only straight. They're kidding themselves, of course. It's not that our sexual orientation and our attitudes toward same can't influence some of our decisions, but it's as ridiculous to blame our sexuality for problems all humans face as it would be to blame race, sex, or anything else.

And as absurd as this sounds, some gay people develop homophobic attitudes [and if you're gay that certainly falls under the category of self-hatred] because they've been dumped by someone they're obsessed with. They hate that person, they hate gay people in general, they hate themselves. This is similar to the way some straight men hate all "bitches" after they've been dumped by their girlfriend, or some straight women go off on men when they develop boyfriend or husband problems.

Both gay men and lesbians can suffer from self-hatred. As for gay men, I've no doubt that what you refer to as the persistence of [and preference toward] macho images in our culture have led many gay men (and certainly straight men) to hate being perceived as gay, and in some cases, to hate being gay. The irony, of course, is that most gay men don't conform to stereotypes and many are indeed "macho" in demeanor. But the "limp-wristed hairdresser" stereotype still persists, and some guys -- rather than fighting it -- would rather just hate and deny.

I'll have more on the whole machismo thing in another post, but for now I'll say that it's also true that there are more Out and Proud gay people today than ever before, and that hopefully many of our Self-Hating Homos will seek counseling and emerge all the happier and healthier for it.

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