As members of the LGBT community deal with the effects of homophobia, lesbian phobia, biphobia, and transphobia, these concepts continue to be internalized into the psyche and stir up problems with self-perception, self esteem, and self love. When individuals internalize negative beliefs and stereotypes, they end up assimilating negative views about themselves into their psyche, including their mentality and their own beliefs and attitudes.
Once the root of the problem is discovered, however, a sense of liberation may be achieved. The idea of internalized phobia stems from the fact that society says that being part of the LGBT community – being gay, lesbian, or transgender – is unacceptable, or at best, that it’s tolerable. Despite the great strides and progress made by the gay liberation and the marriage quality movements, institutionalized phobias still exist. Individuals who identify with LGBT hear that they’re not right, that they don’t fit in with norms, and that they’re not what’s expected. These individuals internalize others’ beliefs and sayings that it’s wrong for them to express their gender the way they do and to be homosexuals.
Even before realizing that we identify with LGBT, we hear from people in our surroundings – society, family, and peers – that being gay, lesbian, bi, or trans, is not okay. Upon realizing that society deems it wrong to fall into one of these categories and identify with them, we ourselves adopt the belief that it’s not okay and the phobias are internalized into our psyches.
This process of internalization, while subtle, gets inside the psyche and hinders the ability to acquire a strong sense of self-love and –worthiness; this is called toxic shame. Essentially, internalization manifests itself as a voice in our heads telling us to feel ashamed and that we’re not living up to standards.
Even if we’re not completely aware of toxic shame, feelings like these hinder us and prevent us from acquiring happiness and freedom. It is essential to face these concepts head on, understand what they are and how they work, and work with a professional to rid ourselves of our internalizations and toxic shame.