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#25 Breaking Chains: Confronting Internalized Homophobia and Fostering Acceptance

Isaac Archuleta

Table Of Contents

Embracing Queer Identity: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Healing

In a recent episode of the “Queer Relation Tips” podcast, therapist Matt shared his personal journey of navigating homophobia, self-discovery, and self-acceptance. Growing up in a conservative Catholic environment in rural Ohio, Matt experienced the early conditioning of suppressing his true self to fit societal norms. However, his story also highlights the power of resilience, re-parenting, and finding strength in his identity as a gay man.

Conditioned by Homophobia:

Matt described his childhood as a series of conditioned behaviors and programming, where he learned to suppress his sensitive and creative side to conform to traditional masculine norms. He recalled how he switched from playing creative games with girls to sports with boys to avoid ridicule, even though he wasn’t particularly interested in sports. The need to fit in and conform to societal expectations led him to compartmentalize and suppress parts of his true self.

Revisiting Religious Roots:

Matt’s journey took a unique turn when he entered the seminary, contemplating a life as a priest within the Catholic Church. This decision brought him face to face with the homophobia ingrained in religious institutions. However, he found support within the Jesuit community, which emphasized finding God in all things and encouraged him to seek therapy and spiritual direction to navigate his identity.

Reparenting and Self-Acceptance:

Through therapy, spiritual guidance, and his journey in the seminary, Matt began to re-parent himself. He learned to challenge the shame associated with his desires, especially the desire to be with another man. Over time, he embraced his identity as a gay man and recognized the importance of self-love and self-acceptance.

The Journey of Integration:

Matt’s story underscores the idea that the journey from suppressing one’s identity to self-acceptance and integration is not linear. It’s a process that involves unlearning societal conditioning, healing from past wounds, and finding support in safe and accepting communities. Matt’s experience within the Jesuit community and his eventual decision to leave the seminary exemplify the importance of personal growth and authenticity.

Benefiting from the Journey:

While the journey of overcoming homophobia and self-discovery can be challenging, it also offers valuable insights and benefits. Matt’s experiences have made him a more empathetic and effective therapist, enabling him to connect with clients who are navigating similar struggles. His journey has also given him a profound appreciation for the power of self-acceptance and the hope that comes from doing the inner work.


Matt’s story on the “Queer Relation Tips” podcast highlights the transformative power of self-acceptance and self-love, even in the face of homophobia and societal expectations. It serves as a reminder that embracing one’s queer identity is a journey filled with challenges and rewards, ultimately leading to greater authenticity and personal growth.

Episode Description

In this episode, Isaac talks with Matthew Lieser about his experience with internalized homophobia. They explore the first time Matthew remembers experiencing it and his journey to deconstruct it.

You can find Matthew at

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