Saturday, July 23, 2005

Reaching out and giving something back

I attended a meeting on Wednesday, initiated on the idea that youth group. The idea came from JK, who just returned to KL recently after spending a long period of time away in Singapore.

There were five of us, JK, VL, TB, RT and myself. One of the first few things that needed to be cleared up was the motivation behind our interest in doing volunteer work. RT, having been doing this for a long time, stated very clearly that volunteerism almost always goes unappreciated, as there would be people giving criticisms and ideas without first understanding the underlying reasons for your actions.

For myself, I have always been interested in giving something back for the community, especially the youth. Looking back, though I didn’t have a very rough time coming to terms with my sexual orientation, I think it would have helped a lot if I have someone to talk to or I knew someone else who is gay.

I was in an all-boys school since primary school. I hit puberty when I was eleven. After that, gradually, my classmates began to look more attractive. P.E. classes were something I looked forward to, for obvious reasons.

I still remember there was this one guy that I always hoped that I had a chance to see shirtless, if not, naked. It was indeed unfortunate he was shy and would always undress and dress very quickly. Hmmph.

In secondary school, my interest in boys continued. The environment I was in further provided fertile ground for me to ogle bodies, which were turning from boys’ to men’s.

Until then, I never thought of it as something unusual or abnormal. It was just something I like: seeing shirtless guys.

Being in an all-boys school, the guys have no qualms playing football or basketball, shirtless. All the better for me.

[I realise the younger me is beginning to sound like a pervert, but let me assure you that I was, and am, not.]

I got my first PC when I was in Form Two (14 years old). Search engine back then wasn’t as good (there was no Google), but I think Lycos provided enough links when I typed "naked men". That was when I found out about the words "gay" and "homosexuality" and what they meant.

The following year, the first chapter of the science textbook was about the human reproduction system. That was when it all began to fit in, the birds and the bees, although a bit of uncertainty and doubt have begun to surface about my interest (or lack of) in the opposite sex.

Boys being boys, sex is always an interesting subject. And fifteen was the time when masturbation and breasts were popular topics of conversation. They would gather and talk about some famous actress or singers who were pretty or well-endowed in the chest department.

Understandably, I was never interested in these round table discussions and thus, always left when these topics were brought up. Which was almost all the time.

Perhaps deep down I wasn’t ready to face the issue about my sexual orientation. I poured myself into my studies and school activities – editorial board, prefectorial board, washboard-abs ogling, debating society, etc.

I finally realised that I was deeply attracted to guys and have shown no real interest in girls (even though there was a girls’ school just across the road. And I always wonder why is there usually a girls’ school which is just a stone throw’s away from a boys’ school?).

In addition, I had my share of falling for my best friend and hoping against hope that he would feel the same way towards me.

Not surprisingly, I tried, based on what I knew then and could do, to change. I kept repeating to myself that I was straight and that I liked guys (yup, even before all these Neuro-Linguistic Programming stuff became popular).

I am pretty certain that most gay men who have ever thought of changing, would have tried looking at naked women and breasts and prayed desperately to be turned on, even a little. I remember staring as long as I could and even imagined what breasts would feel like in my hands; nothing happened and the attempt was such a big letdown.

Frankly, a woman’s body is just pretty ... unpretty to me. The chance of one turning me on is even lower than the probability of me striking the jackpot.

Having no one to speak or turn to, I pretty much focused on studying and passing exams. In retrospect, that was a wise decision. I think I would probably have succumbed to the ‘unhealthy’ aspects of the gay lifestyle. Indeed, I was young and inexperienced and could have easily been taken advantage of. Cue *bright doe-like eyes*

Which brings me back to my motivation of wanting to help the community. The internet is a good resource for information and all, but nothing beats talking to another person who completely understands you, who knows what it feels like to be in your shoes or maybe just to provide a listening ear.

Needless to say, this raises the question of how do we get to them? Or they to us? I have decided to do something for PT Foundation instead (refer to sidebar), starting with the Sunday sessions.

So wish me luck and the perseverance to continue giving and helping out.


Espion said...

How will you be different if there was someone you can confide in when you were coming to terms with your sexuality? Will it have helped you in any way?

What will you tell someone today if he comes to you saying he is confused about his sexuality?

Will you tell men who have sex with men not to do so if they can choose otherwise?

Derek said...

I would probably be in the gay scene and experimenting much earlier. Or indulge in some harmless bedroom fun.

Depending on age, the issue should be dealt with differently. School-going ages; focus on academic first and leave the question for later. If adults, I can only present the facts and it's up to him to draw his own conclusions, which he could accept or deny.

Of course I can't stop people from doing what they want. My advice: do whatever you like, as long as it is not against your values and morals. And your Mom won't disapprove.

Please don't give extreme and unlikely scenarios in response to my previous paragraph.

Spot said...

go justin! oops, derek. ;)

QAF references abound! reminded me of when emmet tried to go straight.

you've got your heart AND mind in the right place bud. hats off to your efforts.

yes, it would be useful to have someone to talk to. as encouragement for your efforts, i give you the following. It's a very good quote i've been meaning to blog about:

"i wished there was someone, somewhere i could ask: What should I do? But no such other person existed in my world. I was the only expert on living my own life, the only person i could trun to for answers."

madba said...

We had similar experiences man.. But i would think i'm bicurious or something