Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gay Self-Hatred

I am gay and have a gay friend who is constantly making negative remarks about other gay people and homosexuality in generalI have confronted him on this on more than one occasion, but he seems unable to talk about why he feels the way he does. He is Catholic, and may have absorbed some of their virulently homophobic attitudes. I think he has many good qualities, I like him, but his homophobia and negativity often make it difficult to deal with him. We are both in our mid-forties. He has no partner, but I can't imagine he will ever get one with his current attitude. Is there any way to help him get over his internalized homophobia?

Homosexual men like this have hated themselves for so many years that it's often difficult if not impossible to get through to them. That doesn't mean there isn't a chance, but your friend has to admit that there is a problem. He is gay, he can't change it, yet he hates himself and hates being gay, and it is all so unnecessary. You are undoubtedly right that his Catholic upbringing has done a number on him, as it has on so many other gay men and lesbians.

Often the self-hate of people like this is commingled with other negative feelings they have about themselves regarding their looks, weight, frustrated ambitions, loneliness, and so on. Your friend probably has a whole long list of grievances. His negative feelings about himself [aside from his homosexuality] feed off his negative feelings about being gay, and create a vicious circle that he's trapped inside.

Men like this are often expressing negative feelings because they feel rejected by other gay men. He has no boyfriend, probably does not go out on dates, and let's not even get into his sex life. This feeling of being rejected leads to him hating being gay and blaming his homosexuality on all of his problems -- he would be happy, he feels, if only he were straight. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. [And there are plenty of miserable, lonely heterosexuals out there for which being straight is not a magic cure-all.]

Sit down with him and tell him how utterly oppressive you find his attitude to be. In a tactful way help him to maximize his assets and minimize his less attractive features. He can't change his orientation so he might as well accept it, embrace it, and develop some pride in himself. Suggest he get some counseling and that a gay or gay-friendly therapist could help him feel better about himself. And it wouldn't hurt to remind him that more and more people are finding the Catholic church and other religions negative attitudes toward homosexuality to be outrageous and totally out of date.

I mean, guys like this are deep down miserable and they don't need to be.

If he doesn't listen to you, refuses to even talk about it, and his behavior and remarks continue to bother you, then you may just have to lose him as a friend.