On Homosexuality

I used to be a homophobe.

I studied in an all-male school for 13 years. As can be expected in a school full of confused teenagers, there would be bullying among the batch. I once bullied a classmate who was gay. Her name is Angel.

I don’t know where it all began. I guess if you put boys together, the ones who “aren’t like the rest” get treated differently. It started out subtly enough. I was weirded out by Angel. Where we would have dirty bathroom jokes, Angel wouldn’t laugh. Where we would curse and banter like sailors, Angel would just be quiet. Where we would play basketball, Angel would be at the bleachers, opting to play volleyball instead.

Then there were others like Angel, who would openly strut their stuff in the hallways, who would have rumors saying that they had a crush on a fellow classmate, who would group together and be noisy in a way that bothered me then.

Then the teasing started. It would be subtle at first, such as ignoring the person intentionally. It would then escalate to name-calling, to outright mocking of the person. I remember being such a condescending piece of shit those days. Angel was a good person. One day she just ignored me. She kept being herself despite the hurtful words and deeds we did. She even seemed happy with her friends. We who were looking down on her found ourselves being looked down by her.

Why did I do this? I realized then that I did because I felt inferior. I too, was bullied when I was a kid. I was a scrawny, wimpy, nerdy kid who got picked on by the bigger kids. That produced an anger within me that I projected to those I perceived as “weaker”. How foolish have I been! Angel is one of the strongest people I know. Angel was a better person.

I apologized to Angel for what I did. I asked for forgiveness for the taunts, the jabs, the harsh words. It was at a hallway in our school. I told her these rather awkwardly. She didn’t say anything, but from then on, I got to know her better and found out that she was like one of us, in that she eats without a tomorrow and she’s strong as hell (she once dislocated my right thumb during an accident).

My Christian Living teacher once told us how she boarded a bus full of passengers that she had to stand. Near her were two seats occupied by two men; one was the typical “macho” guy, and the other was a gay man. The gay man promptly stood up and offered her seat to my teacher.  Our CL teacher then posed the question: “Who was more of a gentleman of the two?”

The standards we live by are no longer confined to “What is manly? What is feminine?” The standards we live now should answer “What does it take to be a decent human being?”

Homosexuality is not any threat to the concepts of manliness, or femininity, or family, or society. It is merely a question of which we have miserably failed to answer.

In Russia, there is an anti-homosexuality law that represses this minority from being themselves. “You could say that being gay in Russia is like living in the closet, a very big and very comfortable closet.”, so says Alexey Mukhin, Director General of the Center for Political Information under Putin. But then again, a cage is still a cage.

In the Philippines, being gay is still seen as being taboo. Some parents are ashamed that their children are gay. Some of my gay friends are ashamed they’re gay, and don’t want to admit it to their parents. I won’t be surprised if there’s still bullying in my former school for being “different”. It’s not only a problem of boys being boys, but of the milieu these boys live in.

Where do we find the answer? I come from a religious family. I used to teach catechism for Sunday school. I once preached that homosexuality is a sin “because the Bible said so.” I didn’t teach it just for the heck of teaching it; it’s in that syllabus we use for teaching children. Yet I was not a decent human being, for I preached denying someone their right to be themselves.

I found my answer in the many gay friends I’ve made along the way. I found the answer in the shoulders I could cry on, upon ears that would listen, and the in arms that would give a tight embrace. That my fears were unfounded. That I had been very, very wrong.

That I could change. That we can, too.

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4 Comments

  1. i art henri

     /  May 3, 2014

    Very well said 🙂 proud of you.

    Reply
  2. Just reading the story of Angel made me tear up a bit. Thanks, Jian.

    Reply
    • Thank you Stephen! I hated myself for that, and I hope that this never happens to anyone again.

      Reply

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