In the aftermath of the terrible attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida I have been thinking about the victims and the family and friends of all those in the LGBT community whom have died, and to them all, I send them my heartfelt sympathy and prayers.
As the search for a motive for such a senseless act of violence is sought, I heard the term “internalised homophobia” being used to describe the attacker, who may have hated his own homosexuality so much, that he turned his anger on others who represented for him the outward sign of his own internal hatred.
I speak from the experience of having suffered with a conflicted part of self, which caused me to feel deep pain, isolation and fear as I wrestled with the emerging truth which I refused to accept – that in fact I am homosexual.
All the school yard bullies who had accused me of this reality, which caused me to clam up and deny it, seriously inhibited by capacity to mature into a fuller understanding of my truth.
And then there was my family, loving and kind, but very much traditional in values of a strict and harsh moral code, which served to protect and nurture me but which caused deep inner conflict and turmoil..
And then there was the strict teaching of the Catholic faith which viewed homosexuality as an abomination and a disorder, which conflicted me because I had developed a very sincere belief in the Catholic faith, a respect for its hierarchy, and also for its teachings.
And then there was my marriage to my wife, whom I love with all my heart, and our dear children, whom we had jointly brought forth into the world to love and care for – to have exposed my truth as it became more fully apparent, and recognised for what it was by me, brought me the very worst sense of inner conflict.
And then when my anger and frustration and anxiety was wreaking greater and greater havoc on my ability to function in this conflicted state – I came to the point where I told my wife the truth, and due to my faithfulness in marriage, she accepted me in wholeness and love.
It would seem then that my problems were over, my wife still loved me, she had not outed me or left me or humiliated me, but the greater struggle still, was to find a means of accepting self.
The term “internalised homophobia” above is used in reference to an outward hatred of homosexuality, the origins of which are conflicted within.
In my case, the “internalised homophobia” which I experienced was manifest outwardly in anger, rigid conformity, high expectations of others, whilst inside I experienced a kind of hatred of self, anxiety, fear and at times a sense that my life was too hard to live.
When I first went for Integral Coaching, one of the most profound moments of my life, on my very first visit to see my coach, was when I told her that I had prayed and prayed and begged that this “cross” of homosexuality be lifted from me.
It was just not compatible for the life I had been born into and which I had chosen to live when I had lacked the maturity to understand and make sense of my otherness.
Her words, as I cried in anguish at the liberation of speaking out the pain which I had held within me for over 20 years, were that I had to accept it.
This notion of welcoming and accepting my homosexuality had never crossed my mind – never – because I had not understood, that I had the capacity to live a life which was all encompassing.
This does not mean that I can express physically my feelings for my own sex, because I have chosen to remain married, but it does mean that I can honour my own truth, value it, accept it, love it, laugh at it, welcome it, cry with it and do all this within my marriage and within my faith.
My reason for writing this blog over the last two years has been to reach out to those who are conflicted, and in being so, have rejected an element of themselves which refuse to be ignored.
The way to liberation for me has come through the love of my wife; the support of the my coach through the Integral Coaching techniques of expansive and holistic thinking; and my own growing capacity to listen to my inner voice and learn to love self.
[To all those hurt in the shootings in Orlando and to those who have lost family and friends and for the communities in Orlando, I offer my thoughts and prayers at this sad time.]
My next blog will be: Little Bird