My Homophobic Ex-Girlfriends

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We’ve all faced homophobia at one point or another. We’ve all had homophobic friends, parents or acquaintances who, every now and then, throw in a couple of homophobic comments. Homophobia comes in different forms, and all of them hurt. But the worst form of them all, in my opinion, is homophobia that comes from the one closest to you, the person you kiss and hug and spend hours with everyday.  And while I’ve never had a homophobic friend or lost a close one because of my sexuality, I have instead grappled with the homophobia of my 3 ex-girlfriends.

Three times in my life, I loved and wanted to be with someone I thought loved me until I realized that her homophobia was stronger than her love.

Yep. What I’m referring to is internalized homophobia, the name we give to that negative feeling towards oneself because of one’s own sexual orientation.  It is described as “not being able to reconcile the conflicting conscious or unconscious sexual desires with values and tenets gained from society, religion or upbringing” ( This form of homophobia may lead to severe repression of one’s sexuality or to a simpler, temporary, internal struggle. And yet, it’s not as internal and personal as one might think. People often experience internalized homophobia when trying to deal with their feelings towards someone else of the same sex and their relationship with him or her. And so all of their supposedly “internalized” homophobia is often channeled towards the other person who will have to then go through the whole process of being rejected by their lover, and then accepted again, only to be rejected again. It is not an easy process to survive, even if you try to be understanding and supportive of what your girlfriend is going through. It will still take its toll on you.

Being in a relationship with a homophobic girlfriend means constantly finding yourself debating homosexuality and trying to convince her that it is “normal.” Most of the time, you have to hear the same old arguments over and over again: “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t date a girl. I can’t do this to my parents. I can’t deal with society rejecting me.” It means kissing her at night and having to forget about it in the morning. Loving a homophobic girlfriend is masochism. It is self-torture. You will try in vain to convince yourself that she loves you but doesn’t know how to deal with it, that it’s not about you but about her homophobia. You will go crazy trying to figure out whether her “go away, get out of my life” means it’s time to leave or is a cry for you to validate her queer feelings. You will feel like you’re dating her, her mother, her father, her friends, her entire family. You will wonder endlessly whether you should be supportive of the struggle that she’s going through or look after your own feelings and what you’re going through. You will be afraid to tell people you’re together because she will freak out about it, and your self-esteem will have to endure the fact that she’s ashamed of your relationship which, by the way, you’re not so proud of either. In some cases, you might have to deal with her discomfort with sexual intimacy. And then one day, you will break up for what seems to be no reason at all. And, in retrospect, it will turn out to be a mountain of reasons that has been glaring you in the face since day one, but which you chose to ignore. You would be too tired to finish the race anyway, but she will be the one to end it one way or another.

Yes, I have been through this so many times that I can describe the whole process in detail: the different stages, the same reactions, the words you will hear, the deals you will make, the promises she will break – all of it. I guess sometimes people survive it and end up in a healthy relationship. But most of us don’t, and eventually homophobia wins with its powerful strategy of getting under your skin. It seeps into every date, every kiss, every word, every little moment you share. You are reminded every day that who you are is hated by so many people. Not only that, but the person reminding you is the one person who is supposed to be on your side, fighting alongside you, doing everything they can to make you feel happy and loved and safe. They’re supposed to be giving you the one tiny space in your life where you don’t have to be constantly defending who you are.


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