You read that right. Before I accepted the fact that I was gay, I was very uncomfortable with homosexuality. Today, I am sick to my stomach thinking about my little asshole self.
I can’t really be mad at young preteen me, but teenage me should’ve known better. It was pretty easy to pinpoint what made me that way. My homophobia was due to a combination of a lot of factors, most notably — Catholic school, conservative parents, and outright ignorance. Ultimately, one of these factors had a much larger impact on my viewpoint than the others.
I can’t completely blame the church because my church never outright preached against homosexuality, they just ignored it. My church acting out of ignorance definitely did not help young me, but I don’t think that played the biggest role in causing my internalized homophobia.
My family was very conservative, and frequently watched Fox News. So safe to say I watched my fair share of anti-gay rhetoric in my youth, especially considering the fight for marriage equality was very prominent when I was a preteen. I definitely think this played a part, but not quite as big of a role as one may assume.
Since childhood, I have always been uncomfortable with the unknown. I fear things I’m not familiar with or can’t understand. I vividly remember going to my friend Gabby’s house and she was watching Orange is the New Black. I had to be at least 16 at the time. When Piper and Alex kissed, my palms got sweaty. When they showed boobies, my face got red. And when the sex scene began, boy, lemme tell you…my lil internalized gay ass eyes couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t look right at it but also couldn’t look away.
When I left and drove home, I turned my music down. I never turn my music down. I never want to hear my own thoughts, but this day, I did. That’s when you know I’m stumped. I think this is when I first started seriously piecing the puzzle of my sexuality together. There were lots of pieces, believe me. But that was the first time I had seen a lesbian relationship at a “Vauseman”- caliber level ever, on TV or in real life. And talk about diving into the deep end. I went from naive, juvenile homophobia to intense lesbian storylines and explicit sex scenes in OITNB.
I was lost and scared. In fear of what it meant to actually be gay and embrace homosexuality, I put up a wall of blind homophobia and shame instead.
I don’t think I ever really feared homosexuals or hated them as a kid. I just feared the fact that I could be one and hated how lost I felt about it. I feared what others would think about me if I really was gay. I grew up around people who acted like it didn’t even exist, that a woman can only love a man and vice versa. And I watched news casts oppose the legalization of marriage between 2 women. I saw how divided the world was about sexuality and being stuck as a middle man sucked. So, I subconsciously picked a side…the side that felt familiar.
Boy, did I pick wrong. Now I’m on the right side (Thank God). From this side, I can see more kids and teens being pulled into that same blind homophobia I experienced. And I’m not naive enough to think that each of these blind homophobes are going to end up coming out like I did. But, I do hope they are presented with what life is like from this side because it’s pretty great.