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Categorized | Religion, Society

Gay For A Day

I joined the Filipino Freethinkers at the Pride March last Saturday (Dec. 4) on Tomas Morato in Quezon City. It was my first.

I have a confession to make. I was a homophobic when I was a Christian, but I do not just blame it on my former religious beliefs. They say that Filipinos have this “macho culture,” so to be called a “bakla” is something to be ashamed of. In those times, I never really thought that gays are being discriminated. Who cares? They’re already a plague in our media and fashion industry. But that’s just plain stereotyping: screaming faggots (that what I used to call them) are better off working in beauty parlors and hosting trashy gossip shows anyway.

I was angry with gay people. I don’t know why, but maybe I just took it for granted that these confused perverts are just a product of a sexually deviant, evil society. My homophobia was the result of a culture and religion that already judged them base on some “moral standard.”

In this “macho culture” I was made to believed that only a man – the father, the man of the house, is the symbol of strength. It is the man who gives the rule and demands to be obeyed. He is the provider. Well, this is quite archaic, but that’s how people that were born in the time of the “baby boom” were raised to believed.

So it is a shame in the family to have a gay son or a gay daughter. A homosexual man or woman is a shame, an oddity. He’s a mistake in somewhere…maybe a screw-up in his growth. Men are expected to act as men and women to be women. That’s how society depicts them. I told you, it’s a stereotype.

Gayness is a sickness. Remember an old folk remedy that say to cure a homosexual son, you have to place him head first inside a drum filled with water. Most often, gay people retaliate by saying that if you place them inside a drum with water, they’ll just become mermaids. Funny, but it is just a reflection on how society in the early 70’s and ‘80’s look at homosexuality.

But it’s not only here in the Philippines. Sometimes in its history, society has considered homosexuality a deviant. The term ‘homosexuality was coined by a German psychologist, Karoly Maria Benkert in 1869 and the first attempts to classify homosexuality as a disease were made by the fledgling European sexologist movement in the late 19th century. In 1886 noted sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing listed homosexuality along with 200 other case studies of deviant sexual practices in his definitive work, Psychopathia Sexualis. Krafft-Ebing proposed that homosexuality was caused by either “congenital [during birth] inversion” or an “acquired inversion”. In 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association published its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was included as a disorder. It was removed in 1973.

Now, thanks to modern science, homosexuality was discovered to be a natural behavior that is surprisingly, not only confined to humans. It was documented in over 400 species of animals. A 1999 review by researcher Bruce Bagemihl ( Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, St. Martin’s Press, 1999) shows that homosexual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species of animals and other new researches have found it common to animals like chimpanzees, birds, lizards, hyenas, dolphins, giraffes, bison, sheep and even in insects. According to Bagemihl, “the animal kingdom [does] it with much greater sexual diversity— including homosexual, bisexual and non reproductive sex — than the scientific community and society at large have previously been willing to accept.”

Modern thinking has transformed most Filipino family to accept homosexuality as normal, but society is still cruel. Gay people are still being discriminated. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals are still being marginalized by society. They have no legal recourse when they are the victim of public or private sector discrimination, whether at school, in the workplace, or health care settings since sexual orientation is not included in the Philippine civil rights code. What’s worst, the Philippines did not sign the United Nations declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, which condemns violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Also, do you remember the issue concerning The Ladlad Party List? The Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) denied the Filipino LGBT political party Ang Ladlad’s petition to be allowed to run in the May 2010 elections, on the grounds of “immorality”.

If you’re going to look at it closely, both Christianity and Islam connect homosexuality with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s why we have the word “sodomy” which literally means the act of “unnatural” sex. Sodom and Gomorrah are that twin city in the Book of Genesis that becomes the synonymous with carnal banality and moral blasphemy. It now use by Christian as a metaphors for vice and homosexual deviation.

Conservative Christians blames homosexuality as the sin of those ill-fated cities. That’s why God destroyed them by raining down burning sulfur on both cities. According to an article by David J. Stewart (Jesus Is, “God destroyed Sodom because of fornication and homosexuality.” In the Christian website, it stated that, “homosexuality was the reason God poured fiery sulfur on the cities, completely destroying them and all of their inhabitants.” In Stand to Reason, Gregory Koukl said, “The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of many things, but foremost among them was the sin of homosexuality. In this section of Leviticus, God gives directives not just for ritual purity, but commands to be observed by every Jew, and even by every visitor.

Homosexuality was wrong for the Jews. It was wrong for gentiles who visited the Jews (“aliens”). It was even an abomination that defiled the land when practiced by pagans who inhabited Canaan long before the Jews came. Homosexuality is a defiling sin, regardless who practices it. It has no place before God among any people, in any age, then or now.”

In the Christian New Testament, the Apostle Paul considers homosexuality as a punishment given by God to those who fail to worship Him properly (Romans 1:21, 26-27) and here he was specific even to lesbianism. So I guess Fundamentalist Christians are wrong when they say that gayness is a personal choice.

In Islam, homosexuality and sodomy (Al-Fahishah) are considered synonymous. It is stated in 7:80-83 that it is sinful and perverted deviation from the norm that even jinns didn’t dare to commit. Many Hadiths discuss liwat (sexual intercourse between males). Ibn al-Jawzi records Muhammad as cursing sodomites in several hadith, and recommending the death penalty for both the active and passive partners in same-sex acts. Two examples are:
“When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes.”
“Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to.”
(in reference to the active and passive partners in gay sexual intercourse)

There is at least one mention of lesbian behavior mentioned in the Hadith: “Sihaq (lesbian sexual activity) of women is zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) among them.”
Different Islamic schools deals with homosexuality differently. The Hanafite school (currently seen mainly in South and Eastern Asia) teaches that no physical punishment is warranted. The Hanabalites, (widely followed in the Arab world) teach that severe punishment is warranted.
The Sha’fi school of thought (also seen in the Arab world) requires a minimum of 4 adult male witnesses before a person can be found guilty of a homosexual act.

The al-Fatiha Foundation estimates that 4,000 homosexuals have been executed in Iran since their revolution in 1979. 10 public executions of homosexuals have been performed in Afghanistan by the Taliban army.

Bigotry Continues
Religious bigotry continue, surprisingly even in a modern society. The Christian TV show The 700 Club on its December 24, 1973 telecast, Pat Robertson urge the US Government to discriminate homosexuals on the same basis that they discriminate “kidnappers, murderers and thieves” because of the homosexual agenda to “destroy all Christians.” Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Enrique Rueda emphasized that homosexuals should never be considered anything less than human.” Dr. Paul Cameron, an anti-gay propagandist even link gay to mass-murder and child molestation in his brochure entitled “Murder, Violence and Homosexuality.”

Death is the worst. Hate crime against homosexual are violent. On March 14, 2007, in Wahneta, Florida, 25-year-old Ryan Keith Skipper was found dead from 20 stab wounds and a slit throat. His body had been dumped on a dark, rural road less than 2 miles from his home.

And who can forget the story of Matthew Shepard? He was a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries. The worst of the story was the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, led by a certain Fred Phelps, picketed at Shepard’s funeral as well as the trial of his assailants, displaying signs with slogans such as “Matt Shepard rots in Hell”, “AIDS Kills Fags Dead” and “God Hates Fags”.

Homosexuality is not the disease. Gayness doesn’t kill; it’s those hate crimes fueled by religious and cultural bigotry that do. As I now understand them – their real issues, the discriminations, the personal suffering…of both mental and physical harm that bigotry and prejudice have been doing , I got rid myself for this homophobia and I now say to myself in that Pride March that I was gay even for a day.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.