An exploration of the experience of internalised homophobia among gay Irish men : a phenomenological approach

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O'Connell, James
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BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This study concerns the issue of internalised homophobia among gay Irish males, and seeks to develop an insight in to the experience and impact of the phenomenon. Research participants were five gay males between the ages of thirty-one and fiftyseven, from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds across various regions of Ireland. The concepts of homophobia and the internalisation of homophobia, are discussed, with particular reference to attitudes to homosexuality across time, and the impact of internalised homophobia. Theory and research relevant to the topic are also reviewed, and the lack of empirical work in the Irish context is emphasised. A phenomenological approach was utilised in the research in order to attain a description of the experiences and consequences of internalised homophobia. Appropriate ethical issues, such as confidentiality and the right of withdrawal, are addressed. Three specific themes emerged on analysis of the participants exploratory interviews: the process of internalisation of homophobia, the development of strategies to cope with the negative introject, and subsequent attempts to integrate sexuality into identity. The study adds to the current literature and research findings on the experience of internalised homophobia and provides an insight into the phenomenon in the Irish context. Author keywords: internalised homophobia, homophobia, homosexuality, sexuality