Internalised Homophobia and The Price of Playing Hetro at Work (Part 1)

Whether we dare to admit it or not, the dominant social position in our culture devalues homosexual identity and glorifies heterosexuality. Internalised homophobia is derived from a negative self-perception of oneself for being gay in our heteronormative society, and occurs as a result of prevailing homophobic attitudes and sexual stigma being internalised. According to research, internalised homophobia is the primary reason why gay and lesbian people don’t disclose their sexual orientation at work.

A dear friend of mine who, for the purposes of this blog I will name *Nathan, is a 27 year old male who identifies as homosexual, and lives with his gay male partner in a committed and loving relationship. Nathan considers himself to be “completely comfortable” with his sexual identity and has informed me on numerous occasions that he is “not at all ashamed about who or what I am”. For the past three years Nathan has been a full time employee working for a blatantly homophobic boss who is unashamed in his daily homophobic jokes and expressions, and derogatory comments about stereotypically homosexual customers who enter the store. The company is very small, and has no anti-discrimination policies or procedures.

Unwilling to express his true sexual identity out of fear of condemnation and workplace discrimination,

Nathanphoto (7) has consistently ignored, dismissed, and even endorsed the constant barrage of anti-gay sentiment from his boss. This passive acceptance of his employer’s discriminatory behaviour has however resulted in the cultivation of an assumed heterosexual identity-as in, Nathan’s boss thinks Nathan is completely straight.

Nathan’s deliberate effort to conceal his homosexual identity from his employer in an attempt to “keep the peace and keep the job” has actually perpetuated a false image of heterosexuality. Consequentially, his work tasks throughout the day are often interrupted by his boss’s distracting expressions such as “Quick, come outside and check out the the broad walking past”, or “Look at the tits on this one ?” (Pointing to a myriad of pornographic images of naked women on his computer screen).  However, instead of choosing to pay no attention to his boss’s unending sexual objectification of women, Nathan has actually opted to play along, mirroring his boss’s chauvinistic attitudes towards women and even going as far to express exaggerated sexually misogynist views; hence further propelling his heterosexual guise.

Now…..there is lying through omission, and there is lying though actually going out of your way to convince someone of something that is completely untrue about you in order to gain approval or avoid retribution. In the case of Nathan, his argument in defence of his pretending has remained consistent over the years: “I don’t need to tell anyone my personal business”. Granted, you certainly do not. – But is it really necessary to intentionally cultivate an illusion of yourself as an almost archetypal straight male womaniser who “knocks bitches up” and never calls them again? …I mean, Nathan had consciously constructed such a convincing heterosexual persona for himself that he even had his boss issuing advice to him about finding a good wife to settle down and make babies with!

.….But what does all this mean for Nathan, or for any of us for that matter?

Click here for Part 2 of this blog ‘Acting All Straight: Is Internalised Homophobia Making You Fake Your Sexual Orientation?

*Name and age of person has been modified for privacy purposes.



 Miya Yamanouchi is an empowerment counsellor with specialist sexual health training who has extensive experience assisting men and women across Australia to discover and embrace their authentic selves.  She has served as a sexual health counsellor for Impotence Australia, a sex and relationships counsellor for The Australasian Institute of Sexual Health Medicine, a reference for The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, and as an expert for New-York based international sex and relationships online magazine YourTango. She is also founder of MY Counselling Service Australia and  Instagram Content Creator for The Sydney Feminists.  Unconventional, cheeky, and a little audacious at times, Miya Yamanouchi is not your typical health professional. Vivacious counsellor, passionate artist and model,creative social activist, heartfelt author, spirited sexual health advocate, pro-BDSM and pro-sex work feminist, unashamed selfie-taker and self-professed “closet child” with a love of all things Disney Princess; who delights in challenging stereotypes and being a paradox. 

This article was originally published at AISHM Reprinted with permission from the author.