It’s 2022 and while there have been great strides, homophobia still exists everywhere. Internalized homophobia. Externalized homophobia. Societal homophobia. State sanctioned homophobia. Church based homophobia. Learning to overcome homophobia with CBT and CFT can be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and society.
While the world has become more tolerant, kind, and understanding, homophobia is still a huge problem. And for the record, tolerance is not good enough! Full on celebration of everyone is the minimum we should expect and push for. Yes, the minimum. Homophobia teaches gay people especially to aim the bar low.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy are very helpful approaches that can teach you how to raise the bar and start living a more authentic, less fear based, and far better life than you could ever imagine.
As humans, there is a natural tendency to stray away from anything that is different. While the gay community is more accepted, we still aren’t fully accepted and again, celebrated, not just ‘tolerated’. Because of this, we are still suffering with being judged or viewed as an “other” and our families and relationships are still in 2022 under attack.
It is not just within ‘straight’ communities where homophobia exists. Towards ourselves, even, we can have shame and self hatred. In fact, this is really common for those who are newly out or have just accepted that they are gay.
While of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, it is hard to be gay in a homophobic society when the world often views us as ‘less than’. As such, gay people are likely to have internalized homophobic attitudes towards ourselves or others.
There are tried and tested ways to overcome homophobia with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and CFT (Compassion Focused Therapy) – no matter if you are in the straight or LGBTQ community.
Overcome Homophobia With CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a scientifically proven, evidence-based method that looks to counteract the negative (think unsupportive and unhelpful) feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that we all have as fellow human beings and especially as gay human beings. It is useful to combat homophobic feelings for several reasons.
Overcome Homophobia With CBT – Tip 1: Challenging The Thoughts You Have
What are the thoughts you have surrounding homophobia? Are they grounded in religious upbringing? Family viewpoints? Your own views? Societal messages of ‘don’t make a fuss’ even though you aren’t!? Internalized homophobia is very real and very damaging when left unchecked.
It is helpful to combat feelings of homophobia by challenging the negative thoughts you have surrounding being gay and being yourself as a gay person. What proof do you have that would validate the negative feelings? What proof do you have that this is the truth? Challenge these thoughts with YOUR truth.
Overcome Homophobia With CBT – Tip 2: When You Change Your Thoughts, Your Feelings Will Change
When you challenge the negative thoughts you have surrounding a topic, it will transform your feelings. Once you begin to challenge the negative thoughts, replacing them with more supportive and helpful ones, you will notice your emotional state changing in the moment as well as raising your baseline emotional state too.
You may find that your viewpoints on either being gay is viewed more supportively and positively. How? Our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are all connected. Transforming one area will help to positively and continually (think life long!) reinforce the other ones.
Overcome Homophobia With CBT – Tip 3: Your Behaviors Will Change
As you begin to view the word gay as more positive, your behaviors will no longer be as negative towards it, either. Maybe you always thought that “gay people act in a certain way” but then you replaced that thought with, “not everyone fits into a certain mold or idea.”
Your feelings towards gay people would be replaced with, “Not every gay person acts the same, or is the same,” and you’ll feel more favorably towards yourself and other gay people. In return, your behavior towards the gay community may transform to being more friendly.
You may begin to feel a part of the gay community (recognizing the beautiful diversity of people under the ‘gay community’ umbrella.
Overcoming Homophobia With CFT (Compassion Focused Therapy)
Compassion Focused Therapy helps people learn neuroscience based tools to deal with their self-shame and criticism. It is a perfect tool for overcoming internal and external homophobia.
Overcome Homophobia With CFT – Tip 4: CFT Teaches You To Be More Compassionate
Often times, the feelings we have towards ourselves are very negative and critical. Often, these are a result of the negative thoughts that we have towards ourselves. CFT helps to counteract this by teaching you to view yourself with more compassion and empathy. Just as you would treat others, CFT teaches you to view yourself in the same worthy light.
Overcome Homophobia With CFT – Tip 5: CFT Helps You Deal With Shame
When you are gay, you likely feel shame, because society teaches you to feel this. This isn’t your fault at all, but of course, it is your life so it is your responsibility to deal with your feelings and thoughts. We can’t control if other people assume that you aren’t as worthy of love and compassion as other people.
But CFT can help you take control over how you view yourself and how you treat yourself. CFT helps you to see that you don’t have to view yourself in a shameful light just because some ignorant others may do. CFT teaches you to look beyond others opinions and to focus on the one relationship you have maximum influence over – the relationship you have with yourself.
Overcome Homophobia With CFT – Tip 6: CFT Helps You Remove Criticism From Your Narrative
How often do you criticize yourself for who you are? Asking yourself why you have to be this way? CFT helps you remove the criticism and inner negative voice that resounds in your head. It can teach you to treat yourself less harshly and with far more support.
Learning to break the cycle of homophobia and shame is hard, no matter if you are straight or gay. However, you can overcome homophobia with CBT and CFT. These approaches to therapy can help you improve your life and the life of others and society.
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the USA and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 15 years of experience. I specialize in helping gay men and lgbtq + people learn the tools of self compassion using cognitive behavior therapy and compassion focused therapy. I have received advanced specialist training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy and specialize in working with gay men and lgbtq + people. Click to learn more about Counseling for LGBTQ + people and Therapy For Gay Men.
BTW: I’m not just ‘Gay Friendly’ or ‘Gay Affirming’ – although of course I am! I am a gay man and I know personally how hard it can be to be gay in a homophobic society. I also know as a therapist who uses these same techniques in my own life (as well as helping my clients to learn them for their lives) that CBT and CFT really do work and thankfully get the job done sooner, not later.
If you are ready to stop the shame and criticism, and put a stop to the harmful effects of homophobia once and for all – please reach out to my Honolulu or London office to set up a Therapy Test Drive session or to ask any questions. It would be my honor to help you in your life journey.