Wanna find happiness… Stop being who you aren’t

I remember walking on Fountain Avenue in Hollywood and my phone rang, as usual it was my mom who called every 20 minutes to report some event she’d seen on FOX News or to find out if I heard “so and so” died, got divorced, had cancer, was in rehab, was missing or God knows what 10 minutes before she called me. I always knew when she was going to take a conversation to the lowest common denominator because the call always went like this: “I’m gonna tell you something in complete confidence and you have to promise not to tell it”, then she would drop a bomb on me and hang up. The topics always involve someone being a slut, gay, drug addict or alcoholic. Those are the things that caused them to die, get cancer, go to rehab or wind up missing. I guess that’s how great stories begin with sex, drugs, and illness. For some reason, the phone call I received that March morning involved none of the tantalizing gossip I was expecting. Instead, she made a statement that has become the mission statement of my life. At that point, I’d been sober 6 months and was agonizing over the thought of returning to life in Jacksonville, Florida.

First let me say there is nothing wrong with Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a city with friendly people, great food, and southern culture. It is also where I should have received an award for greatest public display of self-destruction.  The only thing I hadn’t done in that town was have sex with Michael Jackson. For once in my life, I was in shock by my mom’s next statement. She said, “Rob you’re not an idiot. The only things you need to do is stop looking for happiness in a place you never found it and simply stop being who you aren’t!” Wow! At that moment I had an epiphany that changed my life. At that moment, I set myself free to find me exactly where I was and that was in Hollywood, California. My life has never been the same since that moment.

I’ve heard the statement “just be yourself” so much. It sounds like an amazing thing to do, and I have wished many times that I could just do that. What I’ve wondered, though, is what in the world does that mean? What if someone is a jerk to other people? Is it okay for them to just be themselves and go on being a jerk to everyone? How about people who are fearful of being around others and live a hermit-like life, avoiding people?

In my quest for answers, I’ve found that it is very much possible to just be yourself. The person who is a jerk to others and the person who is afraid of social situations are, in actuality, not being themselves. Their real self is just being covered up with conditioned, fear-based thinking. Our true self is who we really are when we let go of all of the stories, labels, and judgments that we have placed upon ourselves. It is who we naturally are without the masks and pretentiousness. It is who we really are when we let fall to the floor the cloak of other people’s stuff that we have taken on. Everything else that we claim to be when we say, “This is who I am!” is only a story.

Below are some steps that have helped me in uncovering my real nature, which is that being outside of the accumulated thoughts and beliefs that I have collected over a lifetime.

1. Get in touch with your inner child.

If you ever watch small kids, you will notice just how free they are and how little they care about what other people think of them. They are happy and in the moment. They are their true natures. They have not yet been socialized to “fit in” to a society that squashes that. They don’t care if people think that they are silly while they dance in the front yard for all of the neighbors to see. Children are just pure love and light. If you really want to get in touch with your inner child, become freer. Play, have fun, enjoy the moment, do cartwheels in the front yard. We play roles to fit into society and we suppress our true nature out of fear of what others think. If you find yourself worried about being judged, remember that is merely just the socialized you, not the real you.

2. Become more aware of your thoughts.

You may be shocked by the number of negative thoughts that run through your mind on any given day. After so long, our reality begins to take shape based on all of these conditioned thinking patterns. Become more aware of the quality of your thinking. Allow yourself to sit quietly every morning before starting your day for just five to ten minutes. Yes, thoughts will come and go, but just allow them to do that without getting attached to them. Just observe them. When you are finished, continue observing the mind throughout your day.

We have so many unconscious beliefs that we have taken on over the years that were probably handed down to us from somebody else, and that we believed to be who we are. Becoming more aware of the quality of your thoughts, letting go of the old beliefs, and becoming more present can help in revealing your true nature. We are all so much more than those old negative thinking patterns would ever allow us to believe.

3. Follow your intuition.

This is probably one of the most important factors in being yourself. I ignored my intuition for the longest time because I felt so obligated to others. Their happiness was more important than my own. I will tell you this, from my own personal experience: When you start following the little nudges and urges that you get, you will have hopped on the magic carpet ride of awesomeness. It doesn’t mean that you will never have bumps in the road again, but when you are in alignment with your soul, you will always be steered in the best possible direction.

How do any of these things help you to just be yourself? Because they help you to be in alignment with your true nature. Your authentic self is the real you that is beyond all of those conditioned beliefs and thinking patterns that you have accumulated throughout your life.

While it is important to love and accept yourself for where we are at the moment, looking back now, I see that I suppressed my true nature in order to please others and to fit in. I began going within and doing spiritual study and practice in my late forties, and have since become more aware of how much I was identified with my victim story, how I would play roles depending on who I was with, and just how much I cared about other people’s perceptions of me. I had lost touch with my natural self and stuffed it away in a box. Whenever I would notice myself getting attached to the stories and labels in my head or would catch myself playing roles with others, I would just breathe and relax into the moment without any labels or judgments.

It was a challenge because I cared so much about being accepted by others. So I would ask myself, “How would I act right now if I had no cares of what others thought of me?” I realized that who I naturally am without anything else added is perfectly okay.

When you let go of the old ways of thinking, follow your bliss, and do what you love, you begin to align with happiness and peace. These are all indicators that you are connected with your true nature. You are then allowing your real self to shine forth in all its glory.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Physically I am here. Mentally I am far, far away. Depression is a kind of tired sleep won’t fix.

Every time I turn on the TV I see an advertisement for depression and medications to cure it. You would think it would no longer exist considering there’s a pill to make it go away…. just see your doctor and be happy forever more. I wish it actually worked that way, but it doesn’t. I read an article by Dan Scotti recently that made me wonder are people depressed or just sad. 3ae9980e0575f7ebad3dc04448db5f30 It bothers me when some of my friends tell me they’re depressed. It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to whatever they may be dealing with, and it may be true that they are truly depressed — and not just sad, but when I hear the word “depression,” I think of a debilitating disorder that takes too many lives. I think of my grandfather’s lifeless body on the dining room floor after losing his battle with depression at the hands of a self-inflicted gunshot. Hearing the word get thrown around so frequently makes me worry for people whose far-reaching symptoms could go unmedicated or unnoticed. They may hear that everyone around them is “depressed” and decline to get help, believing their feelings are widespread and routine. But they’re not.    I’ve known my friends for a long time. And while it’s true that some of them may very well be unsatisfied with different areas of their lives, I have a suspicion that none of them are depressed in a literal sense. Depression is more serious. Depression holds a great number of people back from just enjoying life. It’s more than just a bad day accompanied by a night spent tortured in a smoky bar somewhere. But that’s what’s difficult about depression: It’s a concept that’s far from easy to understand.  Many people who aren’t depressed use the word to justify feelings of sadness and anguish and many individuals who are depressed don’t realize they’re depressed until it’s too late and something drastic has happened. For many people, however, the line between sadness and depression can be blurred. Depression isn’t just a term to be used lightly; it’s a clinical disorder, and it is often fatal. Sure, sadness is a symptom of depression, but in reality, the two are not one and the same. And anyone who’s been affected by it – or knows someone who’s been affected by it – would surely attest to that.                                                                                            

Out of respect to those who deal with real depression on a daily basis, I’m writing this to set the two apart. Although many of us have bad days – and I mean awful days, days that make you want to crawl into a hole – few people are dealing with actual depression. For instance, whenever you hear people say that they’ve been feeling “kinda depressed lately,” chances are they’re falling victim to an unfortunate choice of words. According to Guy Winch, a psychologist, and author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts,  “Depression is an abnormal emotional state, a mental illness that affects our thinking, emotions, perceptions and behaviors in pervasive and chronic ways.”  In other words, depression — and the pervasive sadness that is involved with depression — doesn’t naturally come and go from day to day. People who are truly depressed don’t feel sad every few weeks when they find themselves in a slump. Depression is day-in and day-out. Additionally, Winch says that depression can often rear its ugly face for no reason. There’s no trigger. (On the other hand, “situational depression” is also a type of depression, and it often follows traumatic life events — a divorce, a death in the family, a physical illness.)  And often, depression can afflict someone as a result of trauma. Often, people who have a family history of major depression can become depressed themselves after a life change — an event that may be easier for others to over come.                                 

Winch writes of clinical depression, “People’s lives on paper might be totally fine — they would even admit this is true — and yet they still feel horrible”.  This is why depression becomes such a suffocating condition to deal with. People battling depression may not know why they’re depressed; they just know that they are. They may feel guilty for being depressed when their lives seem otherwise in order.  

 So if you think you may be dealing with something serious like depression, ask yourself what, in particular, is making you unhappy. If you can identify the different aspects of your life that are making you dissatisfied, try to improve these areas. If you change your situation and are still unhappy, you may be clinically depressed. Winch also explains that depression has lower “thresholds.” If you’re depressed, you’re “more impatient… quicker to anger and get frustrated, quicker to break down, and it takes you longer to bounce back from everything.”  It’s never simple for people with depression to “snap out of it,” as they’re often told — and, as Winch notes, this usually makes things worse. In a post for LiveScience after the suicide of actor Robin Williams, health editor Karen Rowan highlights additional symptoms of depression, via the Mayo Clinic: “loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities, irritability, agitation or restlessness, lower sex drive, decreased concentration, insomnia or excessive sleeping and chronic fatigue and lethargy.”               

If you feel like you’re experiencing something more pervasive than general sadness, make sure to see a physician before letting it get any worse. Often, people battling depression may become apathetic about their emotional state and accept it as “the new normal.” This is a mistake. It’s important to remember that, while depression can strike at any time, it’s never too late to address. And if you hear your friends mention depression, even in casual conversation, make sure to ask them what they’re dealing with. But don’t ignore it. The more awareness that’s spread about what depression truly is, the less it will be misunderstood. If you are depressed and want to seek treatment, there are plenty of websites, hotlines and other forms of professional help you can go to. Please do not wait to get the help you need…

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell


Stay single… you’re less likely to catch herpes and you’ll save money…

a7f0936b781d2052c9ccd7f78d5c3db3I love the feeling of being in love or falling in love or thinking about love. I’m normally not happy when the “love buzz” ends and I’m stuck with yet another mistake or as Madonna calls it a “substitute for love.” My first Valentine’s Day in L.A. was spent with a friend at some swanky little bistro that held about 20 people. It was cramped and overpriced with candles and that stupid red glittery confetti people put on tables at parties. I hate that stuff… it’s like “oh, look! There’s festive shit slung everywhere… this is going to be a great night!”

What I remember about that night is paying too much for a “lovers meal” created by Chef Blah-Blah and looking at all of the Malibu Barbie & Ken looking couples wearing too much cologne and laughing too much and too loudly. No one in the room seemed at ease in the environment… and I was feeding off their anxiety. I’d given up on love so long before that meal that someone should have picked up my tap as an act of loser charity.

My friend is one of those guys who is lucky in life… he’s a wealthy doctor, drives a BMW, owns a loft in downtown LA with an amazing view and looks like an underwear model. We both have enjoyed pampered lives… he worked for his and I got lucky and fell out of the right woman at birth. It doesn’t matter how you get to a place as long as you get there …

My friend was freshly out of a relationship and about to dive back into it with the same person. That never works for me… I tend to throw a match on things and watch them burn. No one has ever asked me back for a repeat performance. What does that say about them? Hmm?

On the subway home that night I wondered what other “single” horny people could do on Valentine’s Day alone…. This is what I came up with….

Valentine’s Day is usually a day to spend an exorbitant amount of money on gifts that typically cost half the price the other 364 days of the year: flowers, candy, and even dinner prices get tripled because of all the suckers going all out on every Valentine’s Day purchase. Since you don’t have to worry about spending half your mortgage on gifts that don’t make it to the end of the week, take half of that money and spend it on yourself. Buy that guy gear you’ve been eyeing since before Christmas, splurge on a new wardrobe or just drop it all on a guilty pleasure like a massage. Be your own Valentine. Do whatever the hell you want. Declare it a “Me Day” and go out and have fun. No one will even notice. They are all too busy crying and whining because they are not in — or sometimes because they are in — a relationship.

Have A Party

You were invited to a couple of parties but respectfully declined because all the festivities would include couples. Why not go for a little while anyway? Drink and eat on another guy’s dime and still leave with time to go out and hit a couple of bars after the party hits the wall. You never know — a few single women could also be in attendance, upping your chances of getting a little box of chocolates of your own on V-Day (yes, that was supposed to sound perverted). You could also hit a bar, go to a show or anywhere else where other single people are hanging out.

Veg out

Do nothing at all. Being single on Valentine’s Day is the one time you’re allowed a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card to spending money on sports tickets or a headbanger band in a crappy part of town and extracurricular activities your imaginary girlfriend would probably disapprove of. Just stay home, veg out on the couch, fart, and be glad you’re not dropping a couple of bills on overcooked steak and watered-down drinks. You can go out next weekend and rub all the money you saved in your hitched friends’ faces.

Tear it up with your buds

Men always have at least one or two single friends. It’s just the law.  They’ll be spending Valentine’s Day alone as well. Spend the night with the other guys who don’t have a significant other. Don’t settle for the typical night; make it a colossal night. Go for dinner, drinks, to a bar or even for just a night of gambling at someone’s house. Blow off some steam and forget all about the love-and-hearts crap. You also don’t have to worry about any of the holiday talk creeping into the conversation unless it’s: “Man, am I glad I don’t have to waste time on that Valentine’s junk.”

Do the usual

It’s Valentine’s Day. Alone. Big. Farking. Deal. Just because it’s a day that everyone else is celebrating doesn’t mean you’ve got to observe and celebrate. Just pretend it’s an average day: go to work, go to lunch, go for after-work drinks, flip on a Netflix movie and do all the things you’d do on a normal, boring day. It only lasts 24 hours, and you spend the majority of that time in bed or at work. It will all be over soon.

There’re lots more you can do if you’re going to spend Valentine’s Day alone… 

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell


It’s over… so what’s a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?

There must be 50 ways to leave your lover… some of the ones I’ve used landed me in deep legal trouble. I’ve learned a valuable lesson in becoming “free”.

These are the ones that you should avoid at all cost….

1. Do not create a website dedicated to your “ex” or expose every character flaw the person has on Facebook…

2. Do not post the phone number & address and photograph of your “ex” drunk at a club online

3. If your “ex” sues you … and they will… follow the judges orders

4. Do not attack the judge that heard your case involving your “ex” on Facebook or create a website dedicated to destroying his character

5. When you are served with a summons to appear in front of the judge that you have slandered and your “ex” … make it a point to show up

6. When the judge has you arrested for what you’ve posted about your “ex” and him on Facebook and websites.. and sentences you to picking up shit at a dog kennel for 200 hours….. go pick up the dog crap.

7. Prepare to pay $20,000 in fines and restitution for a relationship that started with sex on the third date…

I hope this information has been helpful …..

Historically, I suck at relationships because I don’t know how to listen… I just dive head first into one toxic fiasco after another… My formula is very simple… go on three dates and have sex…. no need to know anything about the person… just have sex and force a relationship to form with no instructions… This has been the recipe for all shattered marriages. Don’t try this at home… believe me! Because I have so much experience in miserable relationships … I wanted to share some insight. In my case, each marriage ended in disaster complicated by my use of drugs and alcohol. I always believed that had my divorces ended sooner… we would not have parted bitter enemies! That never happened.

Love is the most powerful emotion a human being can feel. It’s only about 2 feet above lust! That one has always gotten me in trouble ….  When relationships end, the person left behind will always wonder to themselves, “Was anything we had real?”  especially if their heart was shattered.

In reality, the only way to end an “it” is to be honest… to express your reasons… and then to simply just walk away. No person wants to be the bad guy …. emotionally rejecting a lover and causing heartache and pain. On the other hand who wants to prolong a situation where we, ourselves, are starting to feel trapped and miserable?

Ending a relationship takes courage when we are walking away from someone who is pulling us down… but ending a relationship can be cowardly if you don’t end it with a little class. 

So how do we say goodbye to someone we love, or have loved, without causing another person pain? The answer is simple. You cannot end a relationship without causing pain. But you can lessen the blow to your partner by respecting their emotional well-being, presenting yourself honestly … be clear that it’s time move on… and then walk away!

Walking away from someone who is abusive, has an addiction, or is holding you back from pursing your dreams takes courage on your part. It is also a wake up call to your partner that you respect yourself enough to not keep placing yourself in dangerous situations.
If you’re the one that has been dumped … it is also a wise decision to walk away. Don’t call, text your ex, and especially do not send emails begging this person for a second chance, or writing that you will change and be the person they expect you to be. You are only belittling yourself.
As hurt as you are, and as painful as the situation seems, you also must walk away to regroup. Get yourself a support system and step outside of yourself to see the situation for what it is. That person may have just done you the biggest favor.  Sometimes closing the door on the past and walking away from the present is the only way to get to the future.

The challenge in relationships is that each day and with each interaction there is the potential for our feelings to shift up or down. So, how do you decide when the relationship is in trouble or is simply experiencing a momentary blip of bliss or misery?
It’s important to pay attention to the pattern(s) in the relationship. If, over the course, of time the daily blips are repeated and repeated, and your negative feelings continue, then there’s a pattern you might want to be concerned with.

Our inner voice – your true, authentic self – will let you know what’s best in any situation. It’s your compass…your directional force. It will never lead you astray. It’s essential to pay attention to the whispers of your inner voice, those quiet nudges to make a change, go on a different path, and take a new tack in your life.

Healthy relationships, while occasionally causing the partners angst, overall bring joy, happiness and contentment to the individuals. There may be issues, conflicts, disagreements and/or problems, but once these get worked out, the partners are left with and experience satisfaction. They look forward to spending time with the other person. They’re aware of and accept their partner’s ‘quirks’, and deeply respect and like who they’re with. Each person has room to grow as an individual, and their partner understands this will enhance the relationship.

In healthy relationships partners feel good about themselves and the world. They feel deeply respected and cared for. They feel safe.

It takes courage…
It takes courage to take a no-holds barred, clear-eyed look at your relationship. To pay attention to your own feelings and authentic inner voice and give them credence. It takes courage to take charge of your own life and make your own decisions, not swayed by others’ opinions, about what’s important to you.

This is my journey… this is my life

Rob Cantrell

Damn … I hate being gay! What is Internalized Homophobia?

6233e49004a06b4ad578cd8842a03dffPeople often preach their own sins…. Find a recovering alcoholic or addict and you’ll find a person dedicated to preach against drugs and alcohol. The same goes for abortion, smoking or anything else a person is unable to accept about themselves.

Internalized homophobia not only destroys the person battling self-hatred, in the case of the 49 people violently murdered in Orlando, it destroys everything seen as a threat or temptation. Homosexuality cannot be prayed away or should be… it cannot be unlearned or hidden, nor should it be. The following explains what homophobia is and why it is so destructive. These are the views of Revel & Riot, an online source, and need to be understood by everyone.

You were just recently told by a friend to “deal with your internalized homophobia.”

You force your partner to stay in the closet with you.

You feel contempt or disgust towards LGBTQ people who don’t “blend in.”

You can’t come out, even in safe communities and settings.

You’ve tried to change your sexual orientation through conversion therapy, prayer, or medical treatment.

You cannot have emotionally intimate or romantic relationships, even though you desire it.

You think about committing suicide because of your sexuality.

These are just a few of the many signs of internalized homophobia, an issue that affects the vast majority of LGBQ individuals and belongs at the forefront of the fight for justice and equality. Working to overcome it can lead to immensely positive results such as emotional and physical well-being, a stronger more active political movement, and a more compassionate world.


Simply put, internalized homophobia happens when LGBQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance, and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true.

It has been defined as ‘the gay person’s direction of negative social attitudes toward the self, leading to a devaluation of the self and resultant internal conflicts and poor self-regard.’ (Meyer and Dean, 1998).

Or as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998).


Many LGBQ people do not relate to the expression “internalized homophobia” and as a result, end up rejecting the idea before thoroughly examining its meaning. The word “internalized” presents the first barrier. “The concept suggests weakness rather than the resilience demonstrated by lesbians and gay men and keeps the focus away from the structures of inequality and oppression.” (Williamson, I., 2000) The word “homophobia” is the next complication – a confusing and seemingly illogical possibility. How can someone who identifies as LGBQ also have feelings of dislike, fear, and disgust towards themselves? So what can we do about the fact that the combination of words “internalized” and “homophobia” feel unrelatable for so many LGBQs?

Researchers have suggested that using ‘heterosexism, ‘self-prejudice,’ and ‘homonegativity,’ in addition to the widely accepted term “internalized homophobia,” can help to add depth to our comprehension of the true meaning of the issue.


Internalized homophobia is a concept much more nuanced than it’s simple definition would suggest. It is clear that the word “homophobia” in this context, is misleading – the over clear idea that it is individual acts of fear and ignorance diverts our attention from the much more pervasive systemic oppression that is at the root of the problem. The hateful and intolerant behavior of those closest to us often has the most profound impact (parents, church community, peers, partners). While they should be held responsible as individuals, the real culprit is an aggressively heterosexist society that is defining what is “normal,” and therefore what is “right” and “wrong,” through laws, policy, culture, education, health care, religion and family life. This systemic oppression is meant to enforce the gender binary, marginalize LGBTQ people, and keep heterosexual people and their relationships in a position of dominance and privilege.

When we see that homophobia is a result of this larger system, we see that it is institutional; that it is impossible to exist outside of it; that the real definition of it is so much more than the dictionary simplicity of “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals;” that the root structure is vast, affecting every aspect of life and culture. All of these factors make dismantling heterosexism extremely complicated, and uprooting internalized homophobia even more so.



A few scales have been developed by psychiatrists and researchers to measure internalized homophobia so Ross and Rosser’s “Four Dimensions.” This includes the examination of four key areas of a person’s LGBQ identity: public identification as being gay, the perception of stigma associated with being gay, the degree of social comfort with other gay men and beliefs regarding the religious or moral acceptability of homosexuality. Another example is the IHP scale, developed by psychiatrists Meyer and Dean, which includes an extensive list of questions designed to be self-administered. While these levels might be useful on a preliminary level, we must also consider the issue well beyond the categories set forth by the psychological establishment and remember that the question of whether or not you suffer from internalized homophobia is one that is best answered by yourself. The manifestation of internalized homophobia, as well as the extent to which LGBQ people suffer from it, is as varied and layered as our identities, which makes recognizing it a complicated process. Below we do our best to explore many possible expressions and outcomes of internalized homophobia.

Secrecy / Dishonesty

‘The awareness of stigma that surrounds homosexuality leads the experience to become an extremely negative one; shame and secrecy, silence and self-awareness, a strong sense of differentness – and of peculiarity – pervades the consciousness.’ (Plumer,1996). The role of secrecy and dishonesty in cases of internalized homophobia, is significant. Some examples include:

  • Denial – ranging from aggressive and hateful behavior to denying yourself the life and love you desire;

  • Lying to yourself about attraction and sexuality;

  • The inability to “come out” if you want to, and if you can safely. (see more about “coming out below);

  • Being selectively “out” (see “coming out” below);

  • Secret relationships;

  • Forcing others to keep secrets or remain in the closet;

  • Lying by omission

The emotional havoc that secrecy and dishonesty can create for an individual varies. While burdened with the symptoms of internalized homophobia it is difficult to have a clear perspective of the harm we do to ourselves. This is why it’s often due to an accusation of a loved one that we are compelled to explore the concept in the first place.

Horizontal Oppression

Also known as horizontal hostility or lateral violence, horizontal oppression is one of the most damaging results of internalized homophobia. It functions as a cycle of abuse and happens when an LGBQ person, subjected to homophobia / biphobia / heteronormativity, begins to discriminate against other LGBQ people, thereby colluding with and perpetuation heterosexism. Horizontal oppression can be found amongst women (horizontal misogyny) and people of the same racial group (horizontal racism) and in just about every type of oppressed minority group. It destabilizes movements for justice and equality and keeps us fighting amongst ourselves rather than focusing on the big picture issue of institutionalized oppression.

 Horizontal oppression can manifest as anything from:

  • Deeply closeted politicians, religious leaders and “powerful” people who advocate and lobby against the LGBTQ community

  • Feeling disgusted towards other LGBTQ people who don’t express themselves in a heteronormative way

  • Excessive judgment of other LGBTQ people

  • Anger and resentment toward other LGBQ people for being out, or proud of their identity

  • Transphobia, gender policing, shaming or harming LGBTQ individuals who do not fit into the gender binary

  • Anger or embarrassment that other LGBTQ people “represent” you

  • Believing that the movement for justice is a single-issue endeavor (usually marriage equality), and failing to remember that LGBQ people come from every type of background, often facing multiple, interconnected forms of oppression such as racism, cisgenderism, ableism, classism, sexism, etc.

 To combat horizontal oppression, we must:

  • Respect the diversity of the LGBTQ community

  • Remember that outspoken, visible LGBTQ people have been at the forefront of the LGBTQ rights movement from the very beginning, and continue to face the most violence and discrimination

  • Credit visibility as one of the key factors in the progress of the LGBTQ equality movement

  • See that policing the gender expression of LGBTQ individuals is a form of transphobia and heteronormative violence.

  • Be aware of the ways that we collude with heterosexism and therefore harm LGBQ people

Problems with Coming Out

In Beyond the Closet; The Transformation of Gay and Lesbian Life, being in the closet is described as a “life-shaping pattern of concealment.” Being closeted is linked with high anxiety, low self-esteem, increased risk for suicide and general lack of fulfillment. Much of the LGBQ discussion about honesty centers on coming out. While it’s not an internalized homophobia cure-all, it is more often than not, a step forward, and can be an incredibly empowering act for most LGBQ people. It relieves the pressure of having to live a life of secrecy; it is an act of self-love and recognition.

But coming out can also be dangerous. Being honest about your LGBQ identity can result in violence, rejection, loss of home, loss of employment. We unequivocally advocate for an approach that minimizes harm to the person coming out. The key is to recognize the truth of what kind of harm you’re facing and weigh the balance of your emotional and physical safety with your emotional and physical needs. What is more damaging – to face the disapproval of a parent, or to lose your partner? To lose your home or manage the stress of leading a double life?

When a person expresses fear or reluctance about coming out, many “out” LGBQ people have strong reactions, judgments, and painful memories. George Chauncey, professor of history and author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and the making of the Gay Male World, discusses ‘the image of the closet’ and the judgment heaped on those who would not, or could not come out of it.

“Before Stonewall (let alone World War II), it is often said, gay people lived in a closet that kept them isolated, invisible, and vulnerable to anti-gay ideology. While it was difficult to imagine the closet as anything other than a prison, we often blame people in the past for not having had the courage to break out of it . . . , or we condescendingly assume they had internalized the common hatred of homosexuality and thought they deserved to be there. Even at our most charitable, we often imagine that people in the closet kept their gayness hidden not only from hostile straight people, but from other gay people as well, and, possibly, from themselves.”

Many critics of the you-must-come-out-of-the-closet doctrine argue that not only does it diminish the worth of the LGBQ lives from the past when it was not safe to be out, but over time it has homogenized the LGBQ timeline into a 3 step process (in the closet, preparation to come out, out), and, as philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler argues in Imitation and Gender Insubordination, the in/out metaphor creates an over-simplified binary: in = dark, regressive, marginal, false; out = illuminating, freeing, true.

We know that things are never as simple as that, and shaming those who remain in the closet is a mutation of heterosexist oppression. Also, as many studies have shown, internalized homophobia may never be completely overcome, and therefore may continue to affect LGBQ individuals long after “coming out.” It is true that coming out to important people in your life may indicate that you’ve overcome personal shame and self-devaluation associated with being LGBQ. But, a lack of outness should not be taken to indicate the opposite and therefore, should not be seen as the primary symptom of internalized homophobia (Eliason & Schope, 2007).

Mental and Physical Health Issues

Depression / Anxiety / Self Esteem Issues / Self-harm / Suicide / Substance Abuse / Eating Disorders

Chronic stress has extremely negative consequences for the human body, such as, but certainly not limited to, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety disorders, increased susceptibility to illness, heart disease, and high blood pressure. LGBQ people, and in general, any minority or oppressed group, are likely to suffer additionally from what’s known as “minority stress,” a direct cause of internalized homophobia. “Minority stress,” arises from specific, negative events in a person’s life, as well as the whole of the minority person’s experience in the dominant, oppressive society. So, everything from fearing a family member’s judgment, to hearing homophobic slurs at school, to being the victim of a hate crime, to pressure to come out of the closet, to not being able to get married (and therefore claim access to the over 1,000 legal protections and benefits that come with marriage licenses) can contribute to “minority stress.”

As a result of this immense and insidious stress, many LGBQ people develop more severe health problems, and often (due to internalized homophobia) do not seek (or, due to homophobia, are not provided with) the medical attention they need. And so the self-perpetuating cycle of suffering continues.

Many academic and medical studies have linked the existence of internalized homophobia to other health issues and behaviors meant to punish or control the physical body, such as suicide, excessively risky sexual behavior, substance abuse and eating disorders, particularly in those who are lacking the proper support structures, community, and coping mechanisms. It is more difficult still to quantify the unconscious effects of internalized homophobia, especially within those who reject the possibility of it. But while we wait for more studies and analysis from the medical communities, it is imperative that we shine a light on this issue, which is harming so many LGBQ people, and injuring even more around us.

Inability to have intimacy, emotionally or physically

Internalized homophobia is directly connected to many adverse outcomes in both romantic and non-romantic relationships. Examples can include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Low self-esteem / negative self-view that can lead to avoiding substantial relationships or others avoiding you

  • Dishonesty, which can prevent or destroy trust between friends and family

  • Secrecy, which contributes to anxiety and a lack of self-worth, which can then be internalized by partners and friends

  • Horizontal oppression (see section above on this topic)

  • Perpetual lack of satisfaction from emotional and/or physical intimacy

  • Verbal or physical abuse within friendships and romantic relationships

  • Deep shame about sexual experiences

  • Ambivalence, loneliness, isolation

  • Inability to have emotionally intimate sexual encounters

  • Preventing yourself from having sex even if you desire it

At the core of the prevailing stigma surrounding being LGBQ are false notions that LGBQ people are not capable of intimacy and maintaining lasting and healthy relationships (Meyer & Dean, 1998). The anxiety, shame, and devaluation of LGBQ people that is inherent to internalized homophobia are likely to be most overtly manifested in interpersonal relationships with other LGBQ individuals, creating intimacy-related problems in many forms. Empirical evidence supports these theoretical claims. Concerning romantic relationships, psychiatrists Meyer and Dean showed in a study that gay men with higher levels of internalized homophobia were less likely to be in intimate relationships, and when they were in relationships, they were more liable to report problems with their partners than gay men with lower levels of internalized homophobia. Similarly, in Ross and Rosser (1996) conducted a study showing that among gay and bisexual men, internalized homophobia was negatively associated with relationship quality and the length of individuals’ longest relationships. There are endless stories about love lost and relationships of all forms destroyed over the issue of internalized homophobia. For more reading on the topic, check out the references section of this article.


On the self

Internalized homophobia can prevent us from leading fulfilling lives. It can keep us in a place of perpetual shame, stress, and anxiety. It can keep us from having close relationships with people, or ruin the relationships we do have. It can lead us down a path of bitterness, anger, and loneliness. It can prevent us from coming out of the closet and allowing ourselves the opportunity to be seen and loved for who we are. It can prevent us from ever experiencing love with another person. It can contribute to long-term illness, mental health problems, substance abuse, and self-harm.

On others

Internalized homophobia, when left unchecked or unexamined can harm people around the suffering individual. It can lead to judgmental and hurtful outbursts. It can break trust between friends and family. It can cause years of heartbreak and struggle within romantic relationships, and it can lead people in positions of power to make decisions that harm other LGBTQ people on a large scale. It can provoke shame, anxiety and stress, and impact the health of others.

On the movement

When left to dominate a person’s psyche unconsciously, internalized homophobia can perpetuate violence, intolerance, and discrimination. Most significantly, it takes the focus away from the true culprit, the main source of pain and struggle – which is heterosexism, enforced heteronormativity, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia – by keeping us shortsighted and fighting amongst ourselves.


Despite the few shared experiences that LGBQ people share, we are a group that reflects the diversity of all human beings on this earth. And every detail of a life, large or small can affect the way that internalized homophobia takes hold. For example, studies have shown that those who realize early in life that they are LGBQ are often more prone to severe internalized homophobia; they do not typically have the support of a community or access to information about their identities to adequately shield themselves from parental ignorance or a homophobic society. By contrast, it is common for people living in regions with LGBQ equality to experience very little internalized homophobia if, unaware of their sexuality in youth, they realize they are LGBQ in adulthood.

Internalized homophobia is impacted by every aspect of identity, such as religion, race, class, geography, gender identity, family, friends, partners, as well all of the prejudices we carry. Additionally, many LGBQ people experience intersecting oppression, such as racism, transphobia, misogyny, and ablism, and thus are also vulnerable to multiple forms of internalized oppression.

While it would be impossible to describe everyone’s experience, recognizing commonalities, asking questions, and considering the feedback from our peers is a major step in getting a clearer picture of ourselves. An inevitable problem of people so long repressed into invisibility is lack of representation, and due to this, internalize homophobia has an even greater ability to take hold in a person’s psyche.


Think critically about how internalized homophobia could be impacting your life, rather than rejecting the notion outright.

Read more about internalized homophobia. While this topic has less written about it than say, coming out, there is still a lot of information out there, especially moving personal accounts.

Community –  building a support network is essential. The compassion of other LGBQ people and straight allies can be tremendously healing. Others who are at a different stage in the process can often offer valuable insight and solidarity.

Learn about the history of the LGBTQ rights movement.  Find role models in the struggle. See all of the different identities and human beings it took to effect progress towards equality and justice.

Find an LGBTQ active therapist, counselor or psychologist who can guide you through the reparative process.

Get away from toxic influences. This one can often be the most difficult. Typically, toxic influences include major players in our lives, such as family, religion, and friends.

If your religion is not accepting, consider leaving the church even for a time, or find a new church. If you refuse to leave, educate yourself. Refine your arguments. Learn about whether or not your religion truly teaches the immorality of gays, or if it is the interpretation of your religious leader. However, if your religious doctrine is perpetually in conflict with your identity, you may find the commitment more damaging than rewarding.

Clarify your perspectives by talking to friends and allies. Heterosexism and fear can skew our idea of the threats we honestly face. For example, a person with an open-minded family, LGBTQ friends, and enlightened teachers might still be overcome by crippling fear and internalized homophobia. Work to determine where you stand.

Practice self-awareness. Be aware of your negative reactions, critical self-talk, and judgment of other. Each time you do it examines the source.

If you can do it safely, come out of the closet. While it has the potential to be painful, and most certainly will be repetitive and exhausting, this step can be immensely rewarding.

Try to overcome your fear of rejection.

Remember that internalized homophobia is not coming from inside of you. You are not sick, and you don’t need to be cured. It was forced upon you, in a suffocating and violent way by a homophobic society. If you have been accused of having it, or if you wonder about yourself, don’t feel guilty or shameful, just take the steps, one by one, to free yourself of this weight that keeps us all down.

This is my journey… this is my life!

You’ll never get sober until you understand what’s causing you to relapse

f50340a391e8dd40e141dcccbf31830bIt is estimated that for every 100 people who enter a treatment program for alcohol and drug abuse, only three will be clean and sober one year after treatment. That means 97 out of 100 people fail at living life without drugs and alcohol and return to active addiction. Many never make it back to treatment and die from their addictions. Many people have turned to 12 Step programs such as AA or NA or become active in churches, temples or mosques only to find themselves failing at a life free from addiction.

Why do so many people fail at living a life free from the bondage of drugs and alcohol? Maybe drugs and alcohol aren’t the only problems. Maybe the true culprit is something overlooked and until it is addressed the problem with addiction never goes away. 79% of people battling addictions face what is medically termed, a “dual diagnosis”. It is real and must be dealt with at the same time as substance abuse treatment for any true success in recovery….

What is a dual diagnosis?

Here are 10 things you need to know about addiction and dual diagnosis…

Dual diagnosis is not a rare phenomenon – Some studies indicate that as many as 79% of those with a drug or alcohol addiction also have some form of mental illness

Dual diagnosis comes in many forms – Any combination of mental illness (including anxiety disorder, depression, etc.) and addiction (alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, etc.) can qualify an individual as a dual diagnosis patient. As one can imagine, the possibilities are almost endless.

Dual diagnoses are difficult to treat – One of the things that make dual diagnoses so difficult to treat is that it is hard to know where certain symptoms are coming from. For example, if a dual diagnosis patient is suffering from depression, there’s no way to know initially whether the drug addiction or the individual’s mental illness is causing the problem. Depression is a symptom of many things, so the challenge is on the medical professional to find the cause and treat it.

Those with dual diagnoses are high-risk patients – Coping with mental illness is difficult enough, but when you factor in complications from addiction, it’s easy to understand the high suicide rate and violent tendencies of those with dual diagnosis.

Those with mental illness are more susceptible to addiction – Again, those coping with mental illness are at risk for addiction. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and other conditions are likely to see their casual drug use or drinking quickly escalate to an addiction.

Many drug rehab facilities are not equipped to handle dual diagnosis patients – As you’ve already learned, dual diagnosis is a complicated issue. Only those facilities with a psychiatric staff and an emphasis on dual diagnosis are actually equipped to help these individuals with their recovery.

The best dual diagnosis programs provide integrated treatment – Treating both the mental illness at the same time, all under “one roof”, has been a very successful method of therapy for the dual diagnosis patient.

Dual diagnosis treatment may take longer to complete – There is no “quick fix” for drug or alcohol rehab, but when you factor in the care and patience required to treat mental illness, you have a situation that may have to be extended by months and perhaps even years.

Good dual diagnosis programs move at a pace that’s comfortable for the individual – Because of the mental illness component; you must move dual diagnosis rehab along at a pace that the individual feels comfortable with.

If you or someone you know has a dual diagnosis, contact www.dualdiagnosis.org, www.recovery.com, or ask your family doctor for a referral to an addiction specialist for help.

There is no “one size fits all” method in recovery. Find what works for you.

This is my journey; this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

A substance abusing parent has got to go… handle it!

My greatest regret in life was being present in my children’s lives while I was actively using drugs and alcohol. No child deserves to live in a home where a parent is under the influence, and although my kids have seen the changes in my life, nothing vanishes the past. Children are born white canvas’ and every experience changes them. The psychological damage caused by substance abuse in a child’s life does not simply go away. The scars remain with them the rest of their lives.f50340a391e8dd40e141dcccbf31830b

A person abusing substances will never leave his home even though he is destroying everything within it.  Understanding this is critical for anyone dealing with a substance-abusing family member. Children deserve protection and exposing them to life with an active alcoholic/addict is abuse. If you fail at being a parent… nothing else you do will really ever matter.

“Dad’s an addict.” “Mom’s going to rehab.” These are not easy conversations to have with a child, even one that has long been aware that there’s a problem.

As children learn to fend for themselves to survive, unpredictability and chaos become the norm in addicted homes. Lack of consistent discipline can produce deficits in self-control and personal responsibility, or conversely, over-control or hyper-vigilance. Children may even feel that their parent’s drug problem — and the subsequent breakup of the family or removal of the child from the home that sometimes ensues — is their fault.

Their emotions run a confusing gamut. At once resentful of and loyal to their addicted parent, children are reluctant to open up and share long-held family secrets, even if they desperately want the support. They may have a strong self-preservation instinct, but at the same time, they’re not sure if they deserve to take care of their own needs when their parent is spiraling out of control. The conflicting feelings continue as children get a glimmer of hope when their parent promises to quit even though they’ve repeatedly been disappointed.

In this impossible situation, what can parents, caretakers or other adults say to their children? How do they explain the wreckage of addiction to someone who, at a young age, has already been overexposed to some of the darkest potentialities of life?

Time the Conversation. A conversation about a parent’s addiction is best had when there are no distractions, and the situation is relatively calm. If possible, bring it up when there is a plan in place to get help for the addicted parent. Explain that there’s a problem, and you’re taking steps to improve the situation. Talk about what will change (e.g., Mom or Dad will go to rehab, or one parent may move out if separating or divorcing). Repeat the conversation as often as needed so that the child feels comfortable having an ongoing dialogue.

Keep It Age-Appropriate. The language you use and the level of detail you provide depend on the age and maturity of the child. Break the issues down as simply and directly as possible, and finish with a message of hope.

Get Educated. Educate yourself about the disease of addiction so you are in a position to answer any questions the child may have. If you don’t know the answer, work on finding one together.

Acknowledge the Impact. Rather than skirt around the impact a parent’s addiction has had, validate the child’s experience. Apologize for the pain inflicted on the child and asked open-ended questions about how they’ve been feeling.

Put Things Into Perspective. Children from addicted homes tend to idealize other families without realizing they have struggles of their own. Help them understand that they are not alone; in fact, millions of children are in the same situation. They are normal kids thrust into an unhealthy home environment who are doing their best to cope with an extremely stressful situation.

Teach the Seven Cs. According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, children need to know the “Seven Cs of Addiction”:

I didn’t Cause it.

I can’t Cure it.

I can’t Control it.

I can Care for myself

By Communicating my feelings,

Making healthy Choices, and

By Celebrating myself.

Find Additional Sources of Support. Just as the addicted parent needs treatment and support to get well, children need to know there are resources available to help them process their emotions. If they don’t feel comfortable talking with a parent or relative, they can reach out to a teacher, counselor, child or family therapist, religious leader or support group such as Alateen.

The toughest topics are often the most important to broach with children. For each day that a child lives with an addict, the damage is being done. And while not every child will fall prey to addiction or other emotional or behavioral disorders, they need honest discussion and support to beat the odds.

You can’t save an addict or alcoholic unwilling to accept help. You can only save yourself… and you are obligated to save the child in your care….

This is my journey… This is my life.

Rob Cantrell