Making amends

How do I apologize to other gay men for being homophobic when younger?

Photo posed by model (Photo by Jake Young on Unsplash)

A man has prompted a big response online for acknowledging he acted in a homophobic manner when younger. He now wonders if there’s any way he can suitably make amends.

The Reddit user posted on the weekend in the gaybros sub-Reddit: “When I was young I used to hate gay guys and make fun of them because I was afraid to admit to myself that I’m gay.”

He says he even joined protests against Pride parades. He’s now had a change of heart.

“I was influenced by bad company and nationalists. Now I live in western Europe I’m jealous of gay couples. I would love to apologize to them.

“I’m in my 20s, but only thing that I do is going to gym, going to university and playing football with my colleagues. Sometimes I don’t deserve to be happy I think. I’m afraid to date guys. I’m so discreet sometimes even though I live in open-minded city. I seem happy and quite social to other people but I’m stuck inside my head.”

Fellow Reddit users responded with a variety of answers. Most suggested he should not beat himself up about his actions when younger.

“Apologize by living your best life as a gay man,” suggested one. “That’s about as much as we can ask and expect of you. We all have our own paths towards acceptance, and people can’t begrudge you for being raised in an environment that wasn’t tolerant about LGBT.

“You can’t change your past, but you are responsible for your present and future. So live free from all that baggage that you have been carrying. Everyone deserves to be happy, and you owe it to yourself to give you a chance for it. That is what gay pride is about.”

Related: Closeted gay teen finds homophobic dad on Grindr

Other reassured him that he wasn’t the first queer person to express homophobia when younger.

“Don’t be hard on yourself,” said another. “I live in the US. In high school, I used to be a bit homophobic, had a girlfriend and was super closeted. People change. Take your time. Maybe try to join a gay sports league or go to meetups.”

Related: Ex-Bully Comes Out As Gay, Apologizes For Homophobic Torment

Another user said it’s unavoidable that we will hurt other people at some point in our lives. If we can’t apologize in person, the next best way to make amends is through actions.

“If you hurt others, volunteer at a LGBTQ+ suicide hotline,” suggested one of those to comment beneath the original post. “If you hurt others, donate to programs that develop anti-bullying and inclusion-based curricula for schools. If you hurt others, volunteer for mentoring programs and give time back to kids who don’t have the option of hiding behind a mask of CIS rage.

“You did what you did. It was not good. But you probably did your best with the tools you had. And now you have more tools with which to cope. The world needs your action more than your sorrow. Who knows? By volunteering your time to help LGBTQ+ causes, you might make gay friends. And you might feel a little more like you can be who you are.”

In a similar vein, another Redditor said, “I had some stuff in my past I carried guilt from. Finally, I set a goal, not an easy one, and forgave myself. My goal was good deeds to balance the wrong I had done.

“I met my goal and kept on doing good, because, I’d found a better place for myself…I became the guy who is kind to everyone. Great place to be.”

Others reinforced the notion that living his best gay life was the way forward.

“Discreet is a code word for “I’m ashamed”,” cautioned one. “You know yourself that being happy involves being open and doing what you actually want. We’re all, to some extent, the product of our environments and you’ve recognized that so the next step is living that.

“As a community, we do NOT need any more crestfallen gays throwing perpetual pity parties, we’re all full up on those. We need more people living their true selves without shame, so if you’re feeling guilty over whatever know that is all it takes to undo the harm, I doubt honestly anyone remembers anything you said or did, but I can remember nearly every out gay person I met or saw when I was growing up. All for the low low price of living happily as yourself.”

Related: Man’s homophobic childhood bully hits on him on Scruff

Ultimately, many people reminded the user not to dwell on the past too much.

“All of us make bad mistakes in life,” offered another commentor. “What happens next is what defines us. Don’t let yourself be defined by your past and don’t ruin your future in a futile attempt to atone for something that you can’t put right. Be sorry for what you did and be the best yourself you can be.”

Did you ever behave in a homophobic manner when younger? Do you have any advice to add?