Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Veering off the straight road

There is more gay-related news today in the Star. This time, it is about the Free Community Church in Singapore and how ‘free’ it actually is. Read all about it here.

Hmm ... there is so much positive news about gays in the newspaper for the past couple of days that I might as well become one.

Oh wait, I am.

If only it were so easy to change someone’s sexual orientation. At least, I think that is what the government and the conservatives believe. To them, the mere mention of the words homosexuality, gay, lesbian, condom, etc will influence the masses to indulge same-sex behaviour. Something like humans turning into wolves at the sight of the full moon.

What utter rubbish. Let's see them change straight men then.

Remember the time when 3R (a women's TV program) was not allowed to air the episode which talked about lesbianism, even though the producers were merely presenting the facts as they are?

In fact, during my final year in university, the student society that I was in was asked to facilitate a program. It didn’t strike me as strange then, but now thinking back about it, they were only twenty participants and all of them were soft and feminine-like.

Recently, I found out that it was not just my university which conducts these programs; there is another public university too. Furthermore, these courses are conducted in the open and are part of the official activities of the student's affair department of the university.

These programs are meant to ‘toughen’ up these people, to make them appear more masculine; in other words to have more society acceptable gender behaviour.

If my memory serves me correctly, last year there were letters in the Malay dailies which condemned these so-called ‘deviants’ and demanded that universities do something about them.

Of course, all those actions stem from the belief that homosexuality is something that can be changed. Not to mention the misguided perception that feminine guys are definitely gay and butch females are lesbians. Even learned psychologists are myopic, intentionally or otherwise.

The common argument goes that, even if someone is born gay, it doesn’t mean that he should indulge in homosexual acts. The usual comparison is with murderers and rapists; even if genes were the cause for such behaviour, surely no human being would condone these acts.

The logic is there, except that they fail to see one difference. Since when does being gay ever cause harm or hurt to another person? And why is homosexuality even in the same category as murder and rape?

Oh, the conservatives would say, it destroys the family institution. Which is a key basic unit of society, thus the country. A family must have a father and a mother.

I don’t really see how that argument can hold water.

What I do know is that, parents that openly display homophobic behaviour and discriminating remarks, leave their gay sons and lesbian daughters emotionally-scarred and repressed. There might even be deeper psychological damage(s) like depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse, internalised homophobia, etc.

Eventually, these will lead to distanced and strained relationships, thus breaking the family institution. As such, rejection of the truth and denial of the children’s sexual orientation are far worse perpetrators than the simple fact and existence of homosexuality.

Isn’t there a saying that go 'Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches'? In other words, empathy.

Most straight people can almost never understand what it feels like to love another of the same-sex and how natural and instinctive that feeling is. How we would feel guilty doing so is only because the people around us say that it is wrong.

Why can’t conservative straight men get into their thick skulls that humans are different and they come in all shapes, sizes, colours and sexual orientations? That being different is not a crime or sin? That homosexuality doesn’t threaten their masculinity and patriarchal society?

I think deep down, they might actually feel that away. Doesn’t it make you wonder what is so great about masculinity, manliness, butch and everything else that straight men hold dear, if those things are so easily threatened?

Certainly many of you would have also noticed that most anti-gay rhetoric come from men. Males, who are not usually known for their ability to empathise. Not because they are not capable of doing so, but more likely, ignorance and unwillingness to try.

Just as women are generally less homophobic because they actually try to emphatise and then they do, surely men can too.

There are already fag hags, so why not fag stags?

[P/S The title of this post is taken from a close friend and credit goes to her, who spouted it right after I came out to her.]


Espion said...

I suppose your close friend's view of homosexuality is reflected in her 'title'? ie anything off the 'straight road' is veering?

I think the problem with homosexuality in society is a one-dimensional view of homosexuality.

There are homosexuals and there are homosexuals.

There are 'natural homosexuals', ie people who are born such, and then there are people who chose to be such. The latter is the problem, and they 'spoilt the market'.

There is then also those who are made so.

For the society at large cannot tell who is natural, who was made to be, and who chose to be. All they can see is the act of homosexual sex, ie man having sex with man, or rather man choosing to have sex with man.

And then one's choices are not necessarily free. In this instance the very fabric of society can be affected, especially if some proportion of straight man choose to have gay sex - and yes they cannot choose to be gay - and thus not propagating themselves.

In Singapore this decreased fertility rate is a concern, especially since it may upset the racial 'balance'.

And so society can make decisions about what you can or cannot choose with respect to gay sex, since it has potential significant effects. In this sense gay sex is then a social 'bad', just as other bad things like murder or cheating, etc.

Of course being a natural homosexual is nothing bad about it at all - just as being born left handed, or blind, or dumb, etc - other than to suggest that the theory of evolution may be wrong.

So the straight or bisexual man choosing to have gay sex - for whatever reasons, psychologically induced or physically seduced or otherwise - have brought injustice to those who are gay naturally.

pluboy@takashi said...

now.. for straight men, in the very least, to actually MSM.. now THAT is a social problem.. ie those who already have a female partner or even worse, a wife.. but still MSM.. that is the problem..

well.. having said that.. females, in my rightful mind, actually glad to have gay male friends, some as best friends.. simply because i thought they feel safe around gay men..

as for me, i get along with both males and females pretty well.. :P but my best buddies are still males..

straights guys? naa.. i keep my arm's length.. not advisible to get too close to them or else they'll start thinking u're trying to molest them or wat.. SHOULD they happen to know u're gay.. but my straight frens who knew i am gay, they're very cool :P

Spot said...

and thus not propagating themselves...And so society can make decisions about what you can or cannot choose with respect to gay sex, since it has potential significant effects. In this sense gay sex is then a social 'bad'

oh dear. time to lynch the infertile heterosexual couples. heck, ban them from even getting married - how dare such unproductive vessels even think of having sex.

derek - actually i think the problem with homophobia in men is that it does threaten entrenched views on masculinity and on a deeper level, patriachy.

notice the double standards when it comes straight men's perception of lesbians - the portia de rossi type. not so understanding when it comes to the rosie o'donnel or brandon teena types eh?

disdain for women who are perceived as wanting to "be like men" and for men who want to "be like women". it's ALL about masculinity.

Derek said...

Espion: Surprisingly (or maybe not), many still hold the view that the only reason for marriage is to have children.

Even if society can’t tell between "natural" gays and those who are not and lump them all together, I think it’s not the "homosexual act" itself that society condemns. It’s more of not conforming to getting married, having children, threatening the family institution, etc.

Basically, being different and not doing the same thing as everyone else is. Society does not usually tolerate difference, just as people tend to hang out with people with similar or common interests.

pluboy: I believe that those who are married and have MSM are selfish and hurt a lot of people in the process.

But then again, someone told me to not judge as I am not in their shoes.

Perhaps they have done a cost-benefit analysis and figured out that leading a double life hurts the least people.

actually i think the problem with homophobia in men is that it does threaten entrenched views on masculinity and on a deeper level, patriachy.

Ya think?

The deep-seated view of masculinity is threatened because straight men have always associated homosexuality as reversal of roles – feminine or campy men. And lesbians don’t threaten them because no matter what, they can never be ‘real’ men.

Which would explain straight men’s perception of lesbians – they are still women physically and visually. Thus, beautiful ones attract them.

To repeat: what is so great about masculinity, manliness, butch and everything else that straight men hold dear, if those things are so easily threatened?

Why, I think asking that is already a threat to them.

Chaichakri said...

You wrote: In fact, during my final year in university, the student society that I was in was asked to facilitate a program.

I did not know your university had such a programme? What student society are you talking about, the formal or informal societies??????

Hey, I need to know more, how common are gays who are really straight-acting, good looking and the body-perfect type?

Are most gays the 'feminine' type?

Espion said...


Its true, here in Singapore, that we have 'positive discrimination', or affirmation if you want to call it as such, of couples who bear children, namely in terms of tax breaks. Previously under the stop at two policy it was up to two children, now it is up to 3 children, and also, I think, somewhat better benefits if the mother is a graduate. Well that's social engineering for you Singapore style.

And I read somewhere that the Singapore sperm bank will not accept sperm donations from people who filled in the donation form that they are gay.

So at the least it is an implicit acknowledgement that there is some 'risk' being gay is genetic.

And it also simultaneously betrays the authorities' preference for straight over gay people.

And finally gay sex, ie either oral or anal penetration with the penis, is still a crimial offence.

LKY in a televised interview with BBC some years back, when asked this question said it is a matter for society to decide whether they accept the 'gay lifestyle' or not, and then went on say that ours is an Asian conservative society.

And I hate this term 'gay lifestyle' - it is a stereotypical term conjuring up vision of sexual promiscuity, forms and styles of dressing, behaviour, attitudes and so on. But of course there are people who spoil the market and do indeed propagate such an image.

Maybe the problem is that there are no alternative archetypes other than this unedifying stereotype for gays. For straights you have such as the family man, the career man, swinging bachelor, etc, and gays have only the promiscuous slut?

Maybe you guys can check with your straight friends - male and female - who do not know you are gay, and ask them what their image is of someone who is gay or lesbian and whether there is a difference in the perceptions.

pluboy@takashi said...

in fact, the sunday strait (straight??) times have 2 pages of comments .. one from the psychology/medical/scientific side (which is so untrue..) and one from the "suspected ones" point of view.. which i applaude...