Internalized Homophobia and the Rules of Feeling

Jillian Nauss, M.A. in Sociology at Concordia University


This article unpacks how institutions of belonging are often the very same institutions that isolate, marginalize and peripheralize human beings. Situated within the dramaturgical theory of Erving Goffman and the concepts of feelings and feeling rules developed by Arlie Hochschild, this article theorizes internalized homophobia as an embodiment of the values that are held by the institutions of the family, friends and churches – three institutions that are supposed to function as supportive environments but often display a hatred towards anything that deviates from the heteronormative script. This article reminds us that despite a growing awareness and acceptance of queer identity, these institutions often times do not foster a community of belongingness and instead force queer individuals to internalize their feelings and emotions in order to preserve the status quo.