Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Don't over-estimate the influence of gay themes in the media

(Published - ST Forum, Online Story. September 4, 2007)

I refer to Joseph Chia Yoong Leong's letter, 'Gay musical should have come with rating' (ST, Sep 1, 2007).

While it may seem prudent to provide a rating for performances that feature sub-plots involving homosexuality, I feel this is only a temporary measure, casting a thicker haze over some issues we should have considered long ago.

There exists a mentality in society all the way through to the administration that over-estimates the influence of media. It discounts the role of parenting, culture and increasing media savviness of Singaporeans.

Second, Mr Chia's letter exposes a very common misunderstanding. Most see homosexuality as merely a behaviour that can be rectified through discipline, be it through counselling, stigmatisation or, many years ago, shock treatment.

What most of us fail to understand is that homosexuality is a sexual identity, manifesting itself as a specific sexual preference. Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself believes it is a biological trait.

As such, a straight person encountering a homosexual person will not become homosexual.

There are social and religious institutional impediments to understanding the notion of sexual identity.

These create a selective reading of the issue, putting to waste reasoning and larger relevant information, both of which could have empowered us with a wider view of our society and lives.

There are a lot media programmes accessible to children that feature violence, retaliation, martyrdom, suicide and death. What puzzles me is the obsession over morality and values, which are subjective and varied across communities and families, rather than focusing on issues related to life, death and violence.

There is a serious over-estimation of the role of the media, as well as the perceived harmful influence of homosexual people.

Are we making decisions based on the love for our children or for the maintenance of our predispositions and ignorance?

Ho Chi Sam

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