Overcoming Internalized Homophobia: “My Sexuality Is Something To Be Celebrated.”

by Hawmi Guillebeaux

I’m from Montgomery, Alabama.

I always was an effeminate child and I think – I guess I knew that on some level. One day, I was 8 years old. It was bright and sunny and hot, always – and humid, oppressively humid in Alabama. I ran inside – there was always this kind of father-figure that was around the house and I really looked up to him, I guess. Anyway, I ran in and and I just, I think I complained about something – that it was so hot and it was, you know, just hot. And I remember him completely mocking the way that I did it. He made it, kind of, in an exaggeratedly feminine way, mocked what I did. I knew that it was unsafe for me to be fully me. At that moment, I knew that I needed to be different than who I was.

Years later, I moved to New York. I was in New York and I fell in love with a man and You know, I kind of figured out pretty quickly that this was not a good relationship for me to be in. We had different lifestyles – he loved going out to the bars and and having fun with his friends and I was not a bar person, per se. So, for me, it was – there was a major disconnect. And then there were lots more disconnects as I kind of noticed more and more that, you know, this man, as great as he is, couldn’t provide me with anything that I wanted from a relationship, like maybe true intimacy or at least how I defined it. More and more, I started to feel like I was in a relationship with sort of this dominating father figure all over again and it felt like – it felt like hell.

There was a break up. It was pretty, I’d say, dramatic for me. It was on Fire Island. I remember we’d slept in separate beds that night and I went out to him – he was sleeping in the living room and I went out to him and I said, “You know, I think when we should get back to New York, we shouldn’t call each other.”

And he said, “Okay.”

I remember get getting to the docks, you know, the boardwalk, I guess, leaving Fire Island. I had this bracelet that he gave me and I, you know, took it off and I threw it into the brush, into the sand. I was on this boardwalk, sort of, and off in the sand again I see this baby deer that was kind of pressed against a wire fence. It was really petrified of me as I was walking sort of parallel to it. And then it just kept thrusting itself against this wire fence, like just petrified. In that struggle, I was like, that’s me. That’s me. Trying the same thing over and over again and just this insanity.

I knew there was something going on and I did try therapy and I went to therapy for awhile. Ten years go by and I ended up dating a man that was the exact prototype of the other man, who was also the the exact prototype of, you know, this father figure that was so imposing in my life and kind of planted that seed. And there was lots of neglect and there was lots of – there was lots of pain. So that relationship also ended.

Then I ended up going to a therapist here in New York that was a straight guy. He’s genius. He has this beautiful office on the seventeenth floor overlooking Manhattan and tons of light pour in. This man has the most bright, vivid blue eyes. He really was all about me owning my sexuality, which was something I didn’t think was even an issue. I thought I was fine with that.

And he was like, “Your homophobia is the reason you keep getting into these horrible relationships, into these relationships that have no future, that were – that are painful.” That floored me. What?! It comes back to homophobia? Like, it came back to homophobia.

And I didn’t agree with him – I said, “I didn’t choose this. I didn’t choose this pain.”

And then he’s like, “Go home and write all these reasons why you want to be in self-pity, why you want to choose this pain.” And I did. I wrote that list and it was, like, long. And it was because – what does it serve? It serves me. It serves me hating myself. It serves homophobia. All of that came from this message of hate when I was a child.

It became really clear to me after the second relationship, it’s either I’m gonna live or I’m gonna die. This seed of hate is so deep that I had to make a choice and, thankfully, I chose life. Thank God. I’m so glad. You know, and it’s about – since then, it’s been about building positive relationships that come from a place of fulfillment. And if it’s not fulfilling, then bye. You know? Like, boy bye.

There’s a quote from this artist name Jungle Pussy and she says, “It’s a full time job fucking loving yourself and I almost wanna get that tattooed on me because that’s my full time job, is fucking loving myself. And the dividends it pays are amazing.

My sexuality is not something to run from, it’s something to celebrate. I plant that seed. That took a long time to get there. Those words didn’t hit me until later. You know, my sexuality is something to be celebrated.

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