QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

Can a homosexual be homophobic? This seems like an oxymoron to me, but my friend thinks otherwise. Thank you.

Answer

What a good question! The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

The world often teaches us that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are sinful or depraved or abnormal. If you grow up with those messages and then realize you are one of those people, it's natural to feel badly about yourself. Fortunately, it is possible to change those feelings. In my psychotherapy practice, I frequently treat people with "internalized homophobia." I try to introduce them to situations where their sexual orientation will be accepted, and I work with them on developing positive alternatives to the negative messages they're giving themselves.

One very useful book I recommend as part of this work is Positively Gay, edited by Betty Berzon. It's helpful for both people who are struggling with internalized homophobia and for their friends and families. Thanks for asking this important question.

03/13/98


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.

 

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