Society and Them
In 2013, when the law about “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships…” came into action, it forced the fight with negative stereotypes of sexual identity and gender identity (SIGI), which became an administrative offence. LGBT-activists who do not support repressive politics on homosexuality began to be exposed of their pursuit. The terminus “homophobia” became commonplace. BBC Russian service noted a growing number of Russian citizens supporting negative stereotypes about LGBT+.
The formation of toxic homosexual prejudices towards self is described by the terminus ‘internalized homophobia’.
Non-acceptance by family and society, physical and/or sexual violence lead to the development of different psychological disorders.
Causes of self-hatred
The life quality of Russian queer depends on stereotypes of SIGI. On one hand, the politics of homophobia became a field where people promote public demagogy about queer identity; on the other, it is a psychological vacuum without the necessary support. Being in an information vacuum — the space without objective information about SIGI — young people suffered from moral pressure. Abomination, immorality, lust, depravity tormented young people because they were educated in the environment of traditional values, not allowed to analyze their own sexual identity. American psychologist, Ilan Meyer, describes the destructive attitude of society to LGBT+ and to themselves, he explains the model of minority stress.
In 1995, in the psychological Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Meyer offered the conception explaining internalized homophobia in society. He started the analyses from the quote of 16-year-old Bobby Griffith who killed himself because he couldn’t accept his identity: “I can’t let anyone find out that I am not straight. It would be so humiliating. My friends would hate me; I just know it. They might even want to beat me up… I guess I am no good to anyone… not even God. Life is so cruel and unfair.” Bobby tried to find consolation in family and friends but his sexual identity seemed evil and perverse to him. “In the end, societal attitudes and stigma proved too powerful: hopelessly, Bobby envisioned a life of loneliness and condemnation,’ — says Meyer. In particularly, he noticed that internalized homophobia, social negative attitudes and “actual experiences of discrimination and violence” proved the results of his minority stress hypothesis. Young homosexual people develop inner conflict that is brought up by the rejection of “weird” personality from “normal” society.
Teenagers who get self-identification in anxiety, stressful conditions may turn to suicidal behavior. Negative perception of self is decreasing the life quality of queers. Fear of violent disclosures of sexual identity — outing — can lead to the appearance of psychological disorders within young people. They can support negative stereotypes about homosexuality in order to avoid the label ‘outsider’, or ‘white raven’. In conclusion, their life becomes a psychological paradox: in one hand they fight with their own homosexuality, in another hand — they increase the negative stereotypes surrounding it.
How can you destroy negative feelings
The level of internalized homophobia depends on how a young homosexual person describes his own identity: accepting it or wanting to change it. Man can think that if he will try to love a woman, he can be ‘recovered’. Trying to ‘treat’ themselves, young people can decide that their romantic feelings are unnatural, immoral, sinful. For religious people, church rules and norms are important to gain an identity similar to God. So, homosexual love forms a barrier between their belief in God and their own identity. A former British priest Stanley Underhill, who was born in 1927, said that he realized his homosexual orientation and he ‘willfully suppressed and denied’ it. “I was abnormal and an abomination to God,” — a description members of the Church gave to criminal homosexual relationships in Britain of XX century.
The leading problem of identity acceptance is that LGBT teenagers are being educated in an traditional environment. They don’t have the necessary information and psychological foundations in order to study and understand their own sexual identity. Hidden xenophobia crimes, bullying LGBT+ teenagers in schools, fear of outing, self-disgust — are some social psychological factors acting as barriers to self-acceptance. And the lack of parental and friend support adds to this process.
Destroying internalized homophobia and developing self-acceptance are main ways to increase the life quality of queers. It is necessary to detach from external homophobia that appear in common praise of negative attitudes to LGBT+.
LGBT-teenagers are a social group that are united by common interests, beliefs, problems with people and self. The understanding of LGBT culture, protection, psychological help are important components in accelerating and facilitating the process of self-acceptance.
Queer — identity describing people whose behavior doesn’t match with gender stereotype accepted in society, and whose sexual identity contradicts with cultural imaginations about norm.
text Roman Romanov
edited by Law Yi Wan, Reshma Durai