Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Yay for gay play Part I

I am currently on study leave and I have managed to stay away from the PC for a couple of days. Yet, I think some exercise for my right brain wouldn't hurt; I have been practising extremely high level mathematics till it's all I could think about.

Anyway, this is something we would not find in Malaysia - The October 10th issue of Time Magazine, with the words “Battle over Gay Teens” sprawled over a picture of a very cute guy.

I could be wrong, but I really don’t remember seeing this issue anywhere.

The full article can be found here.

It’s quite long, around ten pages. I know many of you are not a fan of long, except if it’s hard too, so I will just highlight the few paragraphs (in red) which I found to be interesting.

But the odd thing was that the gay (and gay-friendly) élite had gathered to raise money not for one of its established charities--the Human Rights Campaign, say, or the Democratic National Committee--but for an obscure organization that has quietly become one of the fastest-growing gay groups in the nation, the Point Foundation. Launched in 2001, Point gives lavish (often full-ride) scholarships to gay students. It is one of the few national groups conceived explicitly to help gay kids, and it is a leading example of how the gay movement is responding to the emergence this decade of hundreds of thousands of openly gay youths.

How cool is that? A foundation specially for gay students. Of course this is not possible in Malaysia, for one has to openly pronounce one’s sexuality and many would be hesitant to do that.

Though in practice, it’s not wrong to be gay in Malaysia; it’s only illegal to have gay sex or commonly known as carnal intercourse against the order of nature.

Kids are disclosing their homosexuality with unprecedented regularity--and they are doing so much younger. The average gay person now comes out just before or after graduating high school, according to The New Gay Teenager, a book Harvard University Press published this summer. The book quotes a Penn State study of 350 young people from 59 gay groups that found that the mean age at which lesbians first have sexual contact with other girls is 16; it's just 14 for gay boys.

I believe this is also happening in Malaysia, but perhaps the ages might be a little higher. It’s indeed a good development, but then, I am concerned about the kind of exposure they are getting too. With the prevalent culture of casual sex, I don’t think it’s such a great idea that their introduction to the community is sex and more sex, especially when one is only fourteen and there are so many other things to explore.

As it is, aunt agony for pimply teenagers columns like the Big Bro in the Star already has many teenagers writing in about unrequited love, obsessing about sex, lack of friends, betrayal by close friends, crushes, self esteem, body image, etc.

Personally, I feel that these are the growing pains that many of us have gone through and now look back with foolish fondness. Experiences which are essential for our growth, though they may not be entirely welcome.

Furthermore, sex is extremely addictive and attractive, what more to fifteen year olds with raging hormones. Surely, many would be hooked and might neglect other aspects of life. The countable few, who are disciplined and know their priorities, would be the exception rather than the rule.

The appearance of so many gay adolescents has, predictably, worried social conservatives, but it has also surprised gay activists, who for years did little to help the few teenagers who were coming out. Both sides sense high stakes. "Same-sex marriage--that's out there. But something going on in a more fierce and insidious way, under the radar, is what's happening in our schools," says Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, an influential conservative litigation group that earlier this year won a court order blocking a Montgomery County, Md., teachers' guide that disparaged Evangelicals for their views on gays. "They"--gay activists--"know if they make enough inroads into [schools], the same-sex-marriage battle will be moot."

Even as adult activists bicker in court, young Americans--including many young conservatives--are becoming thoroughly, even nonchalantly, gay- positive. From young ages, straight kids are growing up with more openly bisexual, gay and sexually uncertain classmates. In the 1960s, gay men recalled first desiring other males at an average age of 14; it was 17 for lesbians. By the '90s, the average had dropped to 10 for gays and 12 for lesbians, according to more than a dozen studies reviewed by the author of The New Gay Teenager, Ritch Savin-Williams, who chairs Cornell's human-development department.

Of course, recalling when one started to have homosexual desires is subjective, as it depends on one’s power of memory. Though of course, it is quite a distinctive memory in itself. For myself, it was in Standard Five, which means I was 11. My ex even claimed he remembered something about seeing or imagining a naked man running down the street at six and couldn't peel his eyes away.

On talk radio, on the Internet and in churches, social conservatives' canniest strategy for combatting the emergence of gay youth is to highlight the existence of people who battle--and, some claim, overcome-- their homosexual attractions. Because kids often see their sexuality as riverine and murky--multiple studies have found most teens with same-sex attractions have had sex with both boys and girls--conservatives hope their "ex-gay" message will keep some of those kids from embracing a gay identity. And they aren't aiming the message just at teens. On one of its websites, the Christian group Focus on the Family has warned that boys as young as 5 may show signs of "gender confusion" and require "professional help."

I vaguely remembered something that happened to me when I was five, which in retrospect, could have affected me more than I am willing to admit.


Holden said...

Leaving us at a cliffhanger there D? Did you want your readers to be at the edge of their seats or did you not want to talk about it?

Anyway, I displayed homosexual tendencies ever since I could remember... I have always like the penis (preferably on someone else), even when I was a kid, so not surprising how I turn out eh?

alex said...

Most definitely a banned issue. (WTF, even my latest National Geographic has two pages of bare-breasted tribal women censored!!!) I wonder how I can get hold a copy of this issue?

canardbidon said...

oohh... what skeletons has derek lurking in his closet?!

haiyar, i've known i was gay since i was a baby lah.. all these conservative ppl are going to burn in hell for their abuse of us lot

Chaichakri said...

If you read yesterday's newspapers, there was a debate in the august house on social ills.

A YB brought up the issue on homosexuality as a social ill that is troubling the malay community....

I feel that is wrong to label homosexuality together with drugs, crimes etc etc

Derek said...

holden: Oh yes, we know how you turned out alright.

Did you have a high sex drive too when you were younger? ;P

alex: Er .. just read the online version. It's not that long actually.

canardbidon: Definitely a lot of them will. LOL

Surely you can't be serious - how on earth did you know you are gay when you were a baby? You sucked harder at your bottle when you saw a naked guy? ;P

kitjar: I agree. It's a social ill to less enlightened people, but we all know what homosexuality is, don't we?

ZemieN said...

i saw the Oct 10 version of Malaysia's TIME, and it's some Special Issue on Asian Heroes or something.

damn them... who's the cover kid anyway? ;)