“If we go to war with our sexuality, we will lose and end up in more trouble than before you started.”
–Jack Morin, The Erotic Mind
“Mom, Dad… I need to tell you something.”
After a long, awkward silence, they reply: “It’s okay. You’re our son, and we love you. But are you sure? I mean… you’re only 28. How can you be sure? If you are, it’s okay. Don’t get us wrong: We love you, and we’ll support you. This is a private matter, and your secret is safe with us!”
To which you reply, “But, guys, I don’t want it to be a secret. Can’t you get that?”
“Of course, yes, of course…” they reply, “We didn’t mean a secret –it’s just that not everyone is as open as we are and, well, you know how some of the family are. We don’t want you to be hurt by their reactions.”
Can you imagine that conversation going this way?
“It’s okay… there’s nothing to worry about. I mean… you may already have figured it out. I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to come out with it: I’M STRAIGHT.”
There’s a long, awkward silence as you take in the look of shock – maybe even horror or disgust.
Mom cries, and dad comforts her: “Look what you’ve done to your mother. How could you do this to her? To us??”
Or maybe dad blames her: “You’ve always been too close to him – too affectionate. Now look at what’s happened… he thinks he loves women! For God’s sake, what have we done?” Or maybe mom turns to stone with that look that says “rejection,” and that chill bites your heart with frost.
When we are raised in a heteronormative family, culture, religion, and society, it can be is as if we are in an alternate reality where who we are and how we love is invisible. There are no rituals to support our rites of passage in the world of romance and sexual attraction.
The dialogue above illustrates through parody how silly this is. As ridiculous as it is, it is nonetheless profoundly harmful to the formation and emergence of our authentic identity – to the prospect of our growing into adults with a sense of pride in our identity that’s reflected and affirmed by family, culture, and politics.
Getting shut down by internalized shame…
That first flutter of the heart – that first impulse to take a boy’s hand that draws us into the wonderous and altogether new world of romantic and sexual love – can be shut down by internalized shame.
There can be a sense that we are “wrong”… that this is dangerous… that we risk rejection, exclusion, isolation, and loneliness. That, in turn, can drive us into repression or secret lives that are compartmentalized.
We can develop a fear of ourselves that mires us in self-defeating behaviours and overcompensation, trying so hard to be “right enough” in every other area to make up for our perceived (often subconsciously) inadequacy.
Who and where are your guides and mentors?
You know… for becoming a loving, integrated, sexual person when your heart and body are drawn to men?
Where are the family rituals, religious celebrations, cultural acknowledgments, and political affirmations of our rites of passage from adolescent longings to mature adult lives as sexual men?
It is not just the absence of these rituals that can wound us so subtly and deeply. It’s also the overt aggressions and rejections of elements of the dominant culture that can make us feel so utterly sad, hopeless, and alone.
Even worse, we can swallow the belief that we are unworthy of the kinds of heterosexual lives we see championed and celebrated around us.
Enough! You are worthy… not DESPITE your sexual orientation… but because of it!
Silence + Secrecy + Judgment = “HomoShame”
HomoShame. It’s a thing. And internalized HomoShame? It’s a damn thing!
Internalized HomoShame is the process by which you take on the shaming of homosexuality that is subtly (and not so subtly) reinforced through family, religion, culture, schools, teams, and on and on.
It is as direct as “gay bashing” and as subtle as the absence of your story in the children’s books you read. And when you did hear about it, read about it, or saw it portrayed in dominant culture, the message was clear:
Wrong! Unacceptable! Deviant!
It’s a choice!
That’s such a SHAME… he’s so smart and talented. Tsk tsk.
Not my son, not my brother, not my best friend… not ME!
Internalized HomoShame leaves you feeling worthless in your very being…
And it leads to a myriad of self-sabotaging behaviours.
There are “pretty” ones like…
Constantly overachieving to establish value,
Pleasing others excessively so that your needs are unimportant, or…
Obsessively focusing on fitness and body image.
And there are “not-so-pretty” ones like…
Self-medicating through substances, sex, porn, gambling, or eating your shame into obesity,
Staying in abusive or unequal relationships even though you know you are unhappy,
Trying to “masculinize” your appearance, demeanor, or voice, or…
Thoughts of self-loathing, self-harm, or suicide… just to name a few.
You are not others’ labels of who you’re “supposed” to be.
FAGGOT, QUEER, GURL, SISSY BOY, ABOMINATION, UNACCEPTABLE, FAILURE, DISGUSTING…
And there so many more that are too “blue” for this site! It can feel like death by a zillion cuts, and each cut bleeds into the next.
Perhaps you participated in those words in an attempt to eke out some measure of belonging…
Perhaps you swallowed it and pretended not to care… because caring was too painful.
The fact that you are here reading this page is testament to knowing that, somewhere deep inside you, these labels are not you – that there is an alternative possibility that who you are and whom you love is a necessary gift to the whole of Love.
To deny this blessing that is your orientation is to interrupt and distort the divine (and I do not mean religious) energy of the world! Your blessing is buried alive deep in the very cells of your body, and no authority outside of you can diminish it once you begin the journey of self-acceptance!
You are not alone, and there are people and places where your voice is not just safe, but celebrated. I am one of those spaces.
However HomoShame is impacting you, there is hope…
… and your roots of shame can be healed to liberate you to be the blessing that you are to yourself, others, and the world!
Let’s imagine a world together… where your first impulse to take a boy’s hand is met with celebration and joy!
Let’s imagine a world where who and how you love is a sacred contribution to the whole of Love.
Let’s step into the vision and recover your capacity to love and accept yourself shamelessly!
Enough! You Are Ready! Call now to book your free 15-minute consultation: (705) 795-0240.