In the past few months, the flames of homophobia and transphobia has been fanned - largely by conservative churches in Singapore. i have heard of folks organizing themselves against the "homosexual onslaught." i think, looking at recent events, that this has a great effect on the climate in schools, at the workplace, and at home.
Theo Chen's anti-gay appeal on Youtube (see the article on yahoo! news
) is probably the tip of the iceberg. Many continue to suffer quietly when faced with bullying, taunting, and -even more sadly - homophobic comments from people they love - their friends and family.
i have stopped reading the comments posted on some facebook pages of people going on and on why being gay is wrong. Many of them just repeat without critically thinking what they are told - especially from their religious leaders. Those who are interested in conversation, i am happy to enter into a dialogue - not a monologue - but a dialogue. i want to hear what it is that fuels the homophobia. What, really, are you afraid of?
i have said before - one of the common arguments is that homosexual people are here to recruit people. This is absolute rubbish. But it got me thinking - why is this argument having so much traction? And i have some thoughts about that.
You see - one of the greatest fear - even amongst parents who have LGBT friends - is that their children may turn out LGBT. It takes quite a lot to get over our culturally ingrained perception to learn to embrace people as who they are. It takes even more if they are our own children - because we have hopes and dreams for them. We have a vested interest in how their futures will be like. All these dreams and hopes come crashing down when we find our our children is LGBT. Their futures will be very different.
There is also another aspect - very often parents feel responsible when their children turn out to be LGBT. Perhaps they think they weren't harsh enough, they were too lenient, they didn't encourage the right behaviour for the gender of their child (which is just reinforcing culturally constructed gender roles). Sometimes, they may even feel guilty because they think it is the strained relationship with their spouses that caused their child to become LGBT. So instead of accepting responsibility (which is really not their responsibility in the first place - we are, after all, born this way), they blame someone else.
i know many parents of LGBT folks who went through that period. The period of guilt, the period of wrestling. They search through their minds, wondering who was the one who converted their child - was it the soft-spoken teacher, or one of the secondary school friends, or ....? Now, with more and more LGBT characters portrayed in media, they blame these influences. i see this in Joshua Sim's letter "Content too mature for a young audience?" published in Today.
What i see now is that fear has driven many people to take a hard stance against homosexuality. They are not willing to consider that LGBT is ok, because that may contribute to a permissive environment that encourages children to become LGBT. They need to shut up their minds so they will not be swayed.
There are many theories about what causes homosexuality - most of them point to biological factors. Many people reject the "born this way" theory because there is no conclusive proof what causes homosexuality. Well, we all agree that people are born left-handed or right-handed (or ambidextrous) - but to this day, there is also no conclusive proof what causes our handedness. But few people will tell me that handedness is not a trait that we are born with. (By the way, the estimate of people who are left-handed is also close to 10%, which is close to the estimate of people who are homosexual)
Left-handness has not always been as accepted in societies as it is today:
In pathologizing left-handers, teachers and child-care authorities in most cultures began to advocate the forced reorientation of left-handed children. Although some early educational psychologists spoke out against the practice (and some even encouraged teaching children to become ambidextrous instead), forcing left-handed children to use their right hands became accepted practice in countries around the world. The methods used range from gentle encouragement to physical discipline and the results were often mixed. While some children made the transition with few problems, the long-term consequences of forced right-handedness remain controversial and often depends on the harshness of the teaching method used. Although stuttering, emotional stunting, and motor impairments have long been reported in hand reorientation cases, research into `converted`` left-handers has also shown evidence of neurological changes, increased incidence of schizophrenia, and potential writing problems. Since forced right-handedness continues to be practiced in many countries, the true extent to which it actually occurs likely can't be determined with any accuracy. Countries where active discouragement of left-handedness have been known to occur until relatively recently include China, Japan, Russia, and most Moslem countries.
(taken from http://drvitelli.typepad.com/providentia/2010/04/being-sinister.html
Really, decriminalizing 377A will not make more people LGBT. Nor will marriage equality. Just because we are more accepting of left-handed people, didn't mean that we have more left-handed people today.
Sadly, they don't realize that their unwillingness to even allow for the possibility of being wrong about the issue is the very thing that perpetuates an environment that drives many LGBT people to depression, rejection by their families, and for some, to suicide. Someone commented that she hoped it doesn't take a "Prayers for Bobby" to happen here to change things. (Prayer for Bobby is television film based on the book, Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son, by Leroy F. Aarons, which is itself based on the true story of the life and legacy of Bobby Griffith, a young gay man who killed himself in 1983 due to his mother's and community's homophobia.)
The comments i read, before i stopped, is exactly that - the kind of homophobia that drives LGBT people over the edge. i have lost friends to suicide. i have had suicidal thoughts. i know how it is like. i hope those who continue to spew their hate understand this - there is blood on their hands.
i am glad that many have learned to love and accept their children as who they are. i know that love wins in the end.