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Internalized Homophobia in Queer Catholic Youth

Being a gay youth can be hard in any capacity, but especially for youths from a religious background. One certain religion has more of a history of shaming this than any other and that is Catholicism. These effects are often recognized in the sense of a large community of Catholics denying those who do not fit their hetero normative views of how others should be a harder part for gay youth to deal with is their own internalized homophobia.

Internalized homophobia often manifests itself in many different ways but two of the ones that I have experienced are being incredibly outwardly homophobic to others who can freely express them or supporting the LGBTQ community but from a distance to where you say “I’m fine with other people being gay but I couldn’t be gay".

First, we’ll explore how closeted and religious LGBTQ people become incredibly homophobic to the point of attacking other gay people. This is often done from a place of being angry that someone else can express themselves so freely or knows themselves so well. Although it can also come from a place of religious trauma that tells you that what you are is wrong and by shaming other people into suppressing themselves like you have been taught to you are doing the right thing. Either way, these acts are not only damaging to the people you target they are also damaging you because you are putting the negative thoughts you’ve been taught to think about yourself into the world more therefore giving them more power. As soon as those words leave your mouth you realize that you may one day have to deal with people saying things like that to you and instead of deciding love is worth the risk you step away.

On the other hand, you can have someone who is very in support of the LGBTQ community and feels at home around people who do not conform to hetero normative society who still do not want to call themselves a part of the community. I went through this for years despite feeling as though I was not straight because I grew up Catholic and had always been shown that was wrong. And while I didn’t think people who were gay were going to Hell like I was taught, I also felt as if I came out and was gay I would go to Hell. It made no sense to me at the time, so for ages, I denied it and just called myself an ally ready to fight for the rights of an oppressed minority. It wasn’t until I was constantly around other LGBTQ people in my drama club who were still religious and began telling me the way they looked at things that I was finally comfortable coming out although even then I was still dealing with that religious trauma and compulsory heterosexuality to the point where I didn’t fully realize my identity until this year.

All this being said, love whoever you want to love despite your religion, especially Catholicism because as someone who was part of the church for a very long time, God is all about love. You were made for a multitude of loves and if He is as loving as has been preached, then you are perfect to Him as long as you are loving.

Her Campus CWU Writer Current Junior at Central Washington University Majoring in Liberal Studies with a Business minor A yellow enthusiast through and through
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