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Homophobia and the Psychic Life of LGBTQ People

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The Palgrave Handbook of Psychosocial Studies

Abstract

Same-sex desire is part of the normal expression of sexual diversity, and same-sex behaviors have been observed throughout human history. Yet it has attracted, and continues to attract, persistent negative, hostile, and sometimes violent attitudes. “Homophobia” is a term frequently used to describe such negative attitudes, and hatred of people perceived and constructed as “homosexual,” with “internalized homophobia” a useful concept to understand the feelings of self-loathing experienced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) people. In the chapter, the term homophobia is defined, and some of the criticisms and alternate terms used are outlined. The chapter summarizes some of the sociological theories that attempt to understand the expression of homophobia and considers some key psychoanalytic formulations, both of which explore expressions of homophobia in relation to anxieties about masculinity and femininity, sexual passivity and activity. Finally, the chapter draws on the author’s and colleagues research on the sexual self-esteem experiences of gay men living with HIV, as well as research on LGBTQ people’s experiences of holding hands with their partner(s) in public, to illustrate expressions of internalized homophobia and how everyday homophobia is negotiated.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Drag Queen Story Hour was started in 2015 in the USA and later came to the UK and other countries. It is a children’s event, usually held in libraries, where a drag queen reads a children’s book and engages children in other learning activities.

  2. 2.

    Pseudonyms have been used. The quotes from the data used in this chapter have not previously been published in Rohleder et al. (2023).

  3. 3.

    More personal stories and a selection of the photographs produced can be viewed from the project website: https://lgbtq-holdinghands.com/

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Correspondence to Poul Rohleder .

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Rohleder, P. (2023). Homophobia and the Psychic Life of LGBTQ People. In: Frosh, S., Vyrgioti, M., Walsh, J. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Psychosocial Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61510-9_56-1

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