Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Unofficial Survey of Homophobia in My College

"When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."

Epitaph of Leonard P. Matlovich

It's complicated.

Since the beginning of the previous academic year in my college till date (a period approaching two years in length), I report that I have busied myself trying to assess my colleague's opinions and protestations on the subject of
homosexualism by lobbing some simple yet awkward questions into middle of break-time conversations and random small-talks - and then recording them in this little grubby notebook I always carry around. Aside from that direct modality of census, which I can only do so many times before people start looking at me weirder than usual, I also jot down remarks or statements I overhear in the lunchroom, in the wards or in the lecture theatres which concern this touchy subject. The resulting record I ended up with, as you can imagine, is more than a little harum-scarum but it's nothing a little radical restructuring can't fix. Bear in mind that my subjects are,
  • Ostensibly of above-average intelligence (they made it this far in med school, after all).
  • Currently in training to become doctors, healthcare professionals that are suppose to be non-judgmental and non-discriminative against another person's race, religion, nationality and most pertinently, sexual orientation.
  • From Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim Southeast Asian country which forbids homosexual relationships and sodomy in both law and society. If you're not allergic to reading, here's a Wiki on the subject.

Now, I have directly asked about 50 subjects in total this question; What would you do if your son or daughter turns out to be gay? The following are the answers I culled from them,
  1. With the exceptions of just two persons (excluding yours truly), every single person responded that they would would not like that.
  2. Roughly one third of that number said that they would cry, despair, howl at the moon, et cetera.
  3. Another one third said that they would force their hypothetical gay offspring into some form of psychotherapy - which is a damn stupid answer for a medical student because homosexuality is not a disease defined in either the ICD-10 or DSM-IV.
  4. The last third said that they will disown their hypothetical gay offspring outright. No negotiations. Just, "Get the fuck out, fag/dyke. You shame the family name!"
  5. This is not within the parameter of this study but a few of the subjects voluntarily told me that if they discover that one of their friends are in fact homosexual, they would not talk to that friend ever again.
  6. Some answered me with another question; "Why are you asking this? Are you... gay?" I could see from their faces that they were already expecting the worst.
  7. One guy just pointed at me and went "LOL, you're gay!" and did not answer my question at all.

So, out of 50 medical students, only two of them agreed with me that having a homosexual son or daughter is absolutely nothing to bawl about. This, of course, is not a very objective method of survey but even as an inaccurate estimate, a 96% homophobia rate is a worrisome figure indeed.

What really scares me, however, is just how virulently homophobic some of these people really are. I was genuinely surprised by how much they hate homosexuals. One guy would spit out the word "fags" or "fuck these fags" everytime the subject of same-sex relationships come up, particularly between two men (he seems to be a-okay with lesbian coupling), and the discussion would invariably lead to either their inability to understand why a man would want to sodomise another man when there are plenty of serviceable vaginas to be had, or their concensus that all "fags" should be murdered in the most violent manners imaginable.

Another guy is so afraid of penises that, by his own admission, he would not watch a porn scene with more than one dick in it. What is he so afraid of anyway? That he'd like what he see?

On occasion, I would participate in these discussions to try to defuse the frankly malignant hate in the air but too often, I was met with blank, "is this guy for real?" looks on their faces. I begin to question the prudence of my activism in this issue these days. Who knows when they'll turn all that hatred onto me and preemptively hate me to death in the off-chance that I'm really a closeted case of some sort. At the moment, I'm only experiencing some light teasing for what they perceive to be my strange affinity towards gay people. It's tiresome when all I'm doing is trying to engage my peers in dialogue about an important social issue (engaging them in dialogue about booze, our crappy government or Megan Fox, well - that's a lot easier).


This, dear readers, is just the first of three articles I am planning to write on the subject of homosexualism and homophobia this week. I mean this as a primer for the next two pieces, in which I will expound upon,
  1. My moral, social and scientific rationalisations for accepting the practice of homosexualism and allowing them the same rights and status that heterosexual couples enjoy
  2. My refutation of the popular arguments (mainly religious) for opposing homosexualism and gay marriage.

In the meantime, I would like to hear your answer to that question I asked my colleagues;

What would YOU do if your son or daughter tells you that he or she is gay?

While I am supportive for legalising homosexualism in Malaysia and the granting of full civil rights to gay people, I am willing to listen to dissenting views, so long as they are worded politely. If you have any arguments for or against homosexuality, I would be delighted to hear them.

And I will deal with any of the latter (providing that they aren't completely retarded) in my third post in this series. So, debate me on this.

Related Post: Why We Should Accept Gay People

A human rights activist,
k0k s3n w4i


Terri said...

If my son or daughter told me he/she was gay, I would be worried.

Not because I have a problem with it personally, in fact I'd personally be fully supportive and accepting. And I'd force my husband to be too (on the off chance that I marry a homophobe, which is unlikely but you never know how people turn out). But I'd be worried for them and I'd encourage them to look inside their heart/soul/mind or whatever to be sure that they were indeed gay.

Because I don't want any child of mine to have to go through half the shit most gay people (especially back home in Msia) have to face from their friends, colleagues, peers, and society in general. I don't want them to be repressed, I don't want them to be unable to hold hands with someone they love in public, I don't want it to be illegal for them to make love or just be together.

I don't want my children to be gay in the same way I don't want them to be autistic, blind, or possess a third leg. Not because I would love them any less, but because who would wish suffering on their child? Well, of course homosexuality is not as extreme as all that xD But life is generally easier when you're straight, I think.

Unless I moved to Australia or the UK or something :P But then you get homophobes everywhere :(

pinksterz said...

hmmm i don't know how i will react if my own son/daughter turn out gay.

and about the "inability to understand why a man would want to sodomise another man when there are plenty of serviceable vaginas to be had" issue:

well a friend of mine read this book called "i am a muslim" i think - can't recall the title but the book is something like chicken soup for the soul according to my friend, and one of the stories in it was about a confession from a gay guy. he wrote that the satisfaction from the anal canal is way different (in a very good way wtf) from a vagina. :|

Anonymous said...

oh, u've asked me once.
well, i'd say education to public about homosexualism is the most important.
our pychiatrist taught us that homosexualism comes in different stages.
and their sexual development in the brain are different frm d rest.
give them a break, its natural and unique, not weird and 'against the will of god'.

mm said...

better i post want

~*caryn*~ said...

i'd say, i wish only two things for my kid: for him/her to be happy with whatever he/she does, and safe sex.

weird looks from the rest of the family might sting at first, but they'll have to get used to it.

Betsy said...

I have no idea how I would react, but not until such extent of disowning. Practically, it's not his or her fault. Who choose to be born as a homosexual anyway? Maybe startled at first, but definitely can come to terms with it and respect their decision. Failing to do so, I think you will risk losing the trust your son or daughter entrusted in you forever. Worse, they might not even let you into their life anymore. Blood ties definitely run deeper than sexual orientation.

I have a few homosexual friends, seeing that I come from an all-girls school, rather common. Amazed that I turned out straight, mum should be thankful :) Anyway, their sexual-orientation doesn't concern me at all. You don't choose friends based on what kind of gender they like. Sick discrimination if you do so.

MichelleG said...

i guess the stigma against homophobes is still at large amongst malaysian society. traditional asian society. it will take years or never since it's such a sinful thing to be 'gay'. but in western countries it's like so common.

as for me, as long as they dont turn out to be criminals it's fine with me. lol.

- yuhhui - said...

Tough question. It hasn't happened to me so I can only assume how I would react in the future. I was pretty against homosexualism when I was much younger but as I aged, I started to accept homosexualism.

I guess if my son/ daugther decided to be gay, I have to support them. However, I would talk to them and find out their reason for it. As far as I know, besides the fact that there are certain hormones affecting the brain, there are also cases of people becoming gay because of a few factors like influences and losing hope in the other sex.

I've read a confession in a mag about this guy who turned gay because his heart was shattered so badly by a girl that he didn't want to accept any more girls. ( I have a friend who's like that too.) Another was... his group of friends are gays and he decided to try it out, acting like one, and eventually turning into one. So it depends on why they decided to be gay.
I have a relative which is gay but that was partly due to hormones. He was acting all ' girly ' since he was young. So it wasn't a surprise when he brought his male partner home one day.
It all depends on the reasons i guess.

Sheena said...

I probably ought to be looking for the reference for this, evidence-based medicine & all that, but hey, I'm sure you can find it (read: I'm too lazy & will probably become the kind of doctor who offloads all manner of scut work on medical students) but I'd heard that gays tended to be middle boys, because apparently, boys (more than girls) do cause an immune reaction in the mother. Not enough to kill them, obviously, otherwise we'd have a distinct problem. (Or improvement, however you want to look at it ;) But enough that these antibodies act on the next male child, causing feminisation of the brain, and hence, homosexuality.

Again, not sure if there're any trials done to date (can you imagine the methodology??) but the hypothesis sounds logical enough.

Liwun said...

I would support them wholeheartedly :) My cousin is a closeted gay and I have a good friend who's gay but I don't think of them other than anything but human. I'm pretty surprised actually at the reaction of the people you interviewed- more than half of my friends are more than tolerant and accepting of gay/lesbian people. But maybe these people too would react differently if their own child was gay, I don't know.

I should hope that by now, people should learn that it's not a disease, you are born what you are.

mm said...

from this we can come to the conclusion that the female gender are more accepting to homosexualism.

i, myself, am a gay bastard.

fubi said...

all hail Po, the paladin of gay rights xD

k0k s3n w4i said...

Terri: I understand that a mother would not want her child to lead a difficult life, but the reason that life is difficult for homosexuals is because straight people made it so. I wonder which is more difficult... having the world go against your love and your lover, or having no love? What if this is a gay world and everyone wants you to break up with Brend? What would u do?

pinksterz: guys have prostates. Prostate stimulation is suppose to be pleasurable (or so I heard).

Anonymous: i think so too. the public needs to learn to accept homosexualism as part of the human condition. it has always existed, and it will always exist hereafter.

~*caryn*~: that's all there is to life, isn't it? happiness, and making sure no one gets hurt when you're going after some.

Betsy: homosexuality in my school - an all boys institution - is a lot less common. boys are less forgiving towards gay guys. and you said it nicely; blood ties ought to run deeper than sexual orientation.

MichelleG: stigma against homosexuals, you mean? being gay is automatically being a criminal in our country by the way. so it's not like they have a choice about that anyway. and if you're talking about other sort of crimes; are gay people more likely to be criminals? it's strange that you think that way.

-yuhhui-: so, are you saying that if you're gay because of biological factors, it's alright? and if it's a lifestyle choice, it isn't? anyway, I've always considered a person to be the unique sum of all his experiences and influences in his life, along with everything else in his genetic makeup. if a person is disillusioned with heterosexual relationships, that's the person he has become. also, who's to say that the disappointment and disillusionment with heterosexual partners isn't caused by some inborn reasons?

Sheena: I am familiar with that theory you're talking about - and if I remember correctly, they came up with that by studying families which have a lot of boys in them. Each elder brother supposedly increases the risk of a boy being gay by 33%, and it's one of the most reliable epidemiological factor identified so far in the research of sexual orientation.

Liwun: This is why I avoided asking people the obvious question of whether they tolerate or accept gay people or not (many people would say they are okay with it just to be politically correct). I needed to get their reactions on a more personal level; so I gave them this "gay kid" scenario.

mm: that's true. not a single person who commented here saying they are okay with gay people is a guy (well, I dunno about anon tho). guys tend to be more homophobic for some reason.

fubi: not po. what would YOU do if your kid is gay? scared to answer is it =d

Terri said...

Obviously I'd rather my kid be gay in both senses of the word than unhappy =.=

I'd just want my kid to have as little problems and unhappiness as possible xD Ridiculous, I know. Can't you tell that I'm going to be one of those overbearing, smothering, mollycoddling mothers T^T

*makes mental note to try and change that*

But I can't help ittttt T^T I wanna protect my baby from everything T^T

MichelleG said...

i think i didnt put thru my comment properly, the criminal part applies to my child, not gays. sorry about that.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Terri: your kid will get beat up at school a lot. bet you're going to give him a name like Cecil or Willard or Gaylord so bullies would know who to pick on.

MichelleG: yeah, haha. thnks for the clarification :)