And there are some of us that have realised that many gay men, perhaps even ourselves, have internalised homophobia.
According to Iain R. Williamson, Internalized homophobia is "the negative and distressing thoughts and feelings experienced by lesbians and gay men about their sexuality, and which are attributed to experiences of cultural heterosexism and victimization"
What better example of homophobia in contemporary cinema than the scene in Brokeback Mountain when Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) tells Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) "I’m not no queer" when they are making love.
It's why Jack jumps in with "Me neither. A one shot thing. Nobody’s business but ours."
This reaction suggests their conversation comes from a space of shame and fear.
Brokeback Mountain is a love story where the most exciting, raw and richest desire cannot find its authentic wings because of the incredible fear of what their feelings truly mean about them, their masculinity, and about being denied respect.
Sometimes, this is called ‘gender failure.’ Ennis and Jack are in denial in that moment, denying their sexuality or at least sensual and sexual desire even as they make love to each other.
How deeply, strangely and even sadly ingrained is fear in this amazing paradox?
Sadly, it is impossible for gay, lesbian, queer or bisexual people to grow up and avoid people that openly and willingly express their belief that to be gay was disgusting or abhorrent or a reason to feel ashamed.
Yet these were the messages that I heard from my parents and the kids I went to school with in many subtle - and at times not so subtle - ways. This was also the way the football team that my Dad coached talked about 'gays"; and what the farmers that he associated with joked about.
They degraded and made fun of men who were gay in front of me.
It was my perception that in these environments it was acceptable and even funny, to degrade homosexuals. This included retelling stories about attacking gay men and justified why they deserved this treatment.
As a small child unaware of my sexuality I see now looking back how easily I would have absorbed these comments. Without knowing it this would become the reason why I could not accept my own sexuality, why I felt shame about it and part of the reason behind why I chose to use drugs for the first fifteen years of my gay life.
I thought my sexuality was dirty and that I was damaged.
Through support groups and therapy I have unearthed these old core beliefs and I have started the process of releasing them and of reaffirming my sexuality as healthy and good.
What is important here is simply that none of us need to be victims of our pasts.
But we do need to take personal responsibility for assessing where we are with our own homophobia and then if it is an issue addressing it through a specific course of action.
Just being aware of it is a great start. This allows us to support ourselves whenever we are aware of personal shame often in this case – carried shame or unfinished business. And either through support therapy or affirmations or positive self talk we can restructure how we hold, assert and present ourselves.
If this issue affects your confidence it could be about looking at how you really feel about being gay. If it’s affecting your relationship can you start a discussion with your partner of your truthful feelings around this to initiate the necessary healing?
Maybe it just simply is a case of letting go of baggage from your past and childhood related to internalized homophobia and reasserting the rightful truth that your sexuality is healthy and good, and a powerful catalyst for your exploration and discovery of love.
Stu Fenton joins SX Online as a regular contributor. His fortnightly column (R)EVOLUTION covers topics relevant to gay life including coming out, internalised homophobia, self-esteem, anger, depression and more. Stu Fenton is available for counselling and therapy sessions on Mondays and Saturdays at 95 Forbes Street, Woolloomooloo.
To book an appointment or for more information, call 02 8013 2035 or 0410 324 384, or check out Stu's website practicalpower4gaymen.com.