While there is plenty to celebrate this Pride Month, it’s also a moment for reflection. A time to think about how far we’ve come AND how far we still have to go. Because it’s not just society that needs to become more accepting. We also need to learn to be more accepting of ourselves.
This isn’t easy when sexual shame is so ingrained into the fabric of our society. The whispers, wisecracks and judgy comments we hear from those around us make a mark. So do the media portrayals of good girl virgins, bad girl sluts, flamboyant gays and butch lesbians. It’s hard not to let these narrow-minded messages seep into our psyche and influence the way we think about sex. This is especially true when you find your sexual desires fall outside traditional heterosexual gender norms. It can often manifests as a kind of internalized homophobia, as writer Kasandra Brabaw explains in her story “‘Lesbian’ Isn’t A Dirty Word” for Refinery29:
The overtly sexualized idea of a lesbian serves men’s sexual interests, and the frumpy, unattractive version helps men cope with the fact that some women just don’t want to sleep with them. But even though I’m aware that these images aren’t real, that didn’t stop them and other lesbian stereotypes from sinking into my brain … Those stereotypes are part of the reason that I (and many people like me) actively avoid calling ourselves lesbians.
In the piece, Brabaw explores why she resists the label and attempts to unravel the complicated “strings” that control the negative thoughts around our sexuality. Read more here.