Gary, there is a subtlety in the understanding of what I have written about “forgiveness” that you may have glossed over. I invite you to read this piece again, and I will speak to two early paragraphs:
“For many gay men we had to learn how to forgive ourselves when we first came out of the closet. We have to forgive ourselves for how we mistreated our authentic identity — we were forced, without the ability to discern otherwise, the lies that convinced us we were somehow abnormal, or sinner in the eyes of some random god.”
To overcome shame of any kind, we need to understand where it came from. Gay shame is perpetuated outside of ourselves. We are taught to feel bad about who we are. When we observe these social norms as children, without being told otherwise, we may end up closeting our true selves to fit in and to pass. That damage is something we need to forgive ourselves for, not because we did something bad to ourselves, but for having been taught to buy into that prejudiced model without the intellectually capacity to question it.
This is the subtle aspect of forgiveness I’m espousing; it is a form of being able to let go of the attachment to the shame, especially when shame feels like one’s fault. Herein is the need for self-forgiveness: to recognize that how we felt/feel within shame is not our fault, because we would have internalized that it was our fault for how many years before we faced the root of our shame.
This idea is also expressed here:
“We may still struggle with the challenge of forgiving homophobia when we are triggered to feel the shame of how we felt when we lived in the closet — that period of time in adolescence when we didn’t know how to overcome the guilt of both external and self-inflicted harm.”
Think of forgiveness in this sense as a much deeper way of letting go, in particular letting go of the labels associated with our ego. If we hold on to anger about shame, we will always be attached to it. Forgiving ourselves for it, not because we are the transgressor, but because forgiveness is freeing of the burden — this act of letting go by accepting what has happened, while not condoning it — we can more easily and actively evolve.