Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Homonegativity, Heterosexism, Homophobia.

Sometimes individuals with a same-sex orientation encounter struggles that make it difficult to accept one’s sexual orientation. Three major barriers are homonegativity, heterosexism, and homophobia. They are related. The biggest example of a barrier is homonegativity. Recent research (Rosser, 2008) highlights how internalized negative thoughts about one’s self may be the largest contributor to feelings of depression. This depression is also theorized as contributing to suicide thoughts and feelings, other feelings of depression, and increased unsafe sexual behaviors. Another major barrier to a same sex identity is heterosexism which is the bias that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexual orientations. An extreme example of heterosexism is the presence of hate crimes. One historical well known example is Matthew Shepard who was attacked and brutally beaten for having a same-sex orientation. He eventually died from the attack. Such attacks hinder many individuals’ self-discovery process usually though their experience of fear and withdrawal leading to increased isolation. Other examples of barriers to a healthy sexual identity include structural barriers such as legal consequences (loss of custody of children), negative stereotypes, internalized shame, family rejection and a sense of fear. Homophobia is another recognized as the irrational fear of homosexuality. This fear leads to avoidance of homosexuality, including the possibility of interacting with healthy gay role models.

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