Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Alternative lifestyle" is a condescending and ill-informed myth

(Unpublished - Dec 3, 2009)

I refer to Mr Bernard Tan's letter 'Respect is fine but don't glorify' (Dec 3).

Like Mr Tan, I have gay friends. But unlike him, I have a different attitude towards my friends.

I do not hold bigoted misconceptions and spread myths about gay people that put them in a lesser position.

It is a myth to regard the sexual orientation or identity of a person, other than heterosexual, as a lifestyle.

With all due respect to people of faith, it is a condescending value judgement, and is obviously derived from religious dogma - that identifying as homosexual is wrong and immoral.

The word lifestyle suggests homosexuality is a temptation and one that can be chosen, rather than a legitimate identity, and for Mr Tan to classify the realities and lived experiences of gay people as a lifestyle is incorrect and disrespectful.

Unfortunately, it will require a paradigm shift for people to come to fully understand sexual orientation and sexual identity. They need to be readily open to information and studies from different fields, be aware of history and also be a little more self-interrogative towards their privileges and prejudices.

Some people will always be blind to their own prejudices. They are the ones who deem any neutral or positive portrayal of what they misclassify as "alternative" to be glorification, and attempt to create moral panics to mobilise ill-informed people to continue being prejudicial towards minorities. They attempt to be righteous as they demonise and alienate other communities.

I think we will never have respect, empathy, compassion or tolerance, given how we live our lives according to misinformation and myths that wrongfully represent other people.

I believe the government, the media and all of us have a responsibility to make Singapore a land of diversity with equality. Unlike sexual orientation, most of us can "choose" to be responsible.

I support the traditional family too, because I came from one and am about to start one myself. However, I do not see a need to glorify my choice nor shove the idea down the throats of others.

Ho Chi Sam

Note: It's been almost more than a week since I sent my letter, and don't think the Straits Times Forum will publish my letter. I'm having a real dry spell in the Straits Times Forum. Very frustrating when serious messages can't get published.


Augustin said...

Heya, just want to ask where do you draw the line between sexual orientation (presumably born with) and lifestyle choice? (purely non-scientific discussion)

You determine homosexuality as an orientation which is something one is born with, hard-wired so to speak.

What then of being bi-sexual or trans-sexual (feeling like you are a man trapped in a woman's body or vice versa)?

And if we accept that then what of pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality? Can these be said to be orientation rather than choice?

Even if we do accept the premise that homosexuality is indeed orientation rather than choice, wWhen does one begin to say/admit that society sometimes has limits even for one's alleged "inclinations" ? We certainly don't indulge kleptomaniacs.

I don't mean to trivialise homosexuality and I mean no offence. I just want things to be clarified so everyone is clear. Indeed, I would love to see these issues being discussed in public forums instead of the current status quo where such topics are swept under the carpet because we're too afraid to discuss the implications.

the little eastern heretic said...

you can post your letter to ST discussion board under the same topic! that way it'll get more eyeballs.

Sam Ho said...

little eastern heretic, good idea but the discussion board is corrupted with self-conceited buffoons. i'm sure they wouldn't want another one in me hahahha.

augustin, hope to share the following.

sexual identity consists of many sub-domains. i shall name a few:
1) physical attraction - what kind of physicality you like, or aesthetics that pleases you. you might like plus-sized boys, or nubile girls with perky tits. it's about the "love at first sight" according to body type, human or animal or child (so there are some ethical issues here).
2) emotional attraction - you might like "tiger/dragon" women, alpha-males, or quiet persons.
3) sexual interest - how you would seek pleasure. what act or area stimulates you most, which you find most erotic. you like to be top/bottom, in a three-some, with a dog, stuff like that.
4) lifestyle choice - how you would spend quality time, and with whom. you may swing, or be promiscuous.

homosexuality is just a certain permutation of the abovementioned. some gay men, for instance, like to monogamous, polyamorous, they like certain body types, they like certain ages.

same goes for "straight" men. a straight man, for example, may like a dark-skinned slim woman with long hair, doesn't want to be married, and enjoys prostitutes in batam and geylang once in a while. that's a lifestyle. to many, it's a not-so-good lifestyle to have.

but most of us conflate homosexuality into a lifestyle, which is misrepresentative. and we assume all gay men, for example, are promiscuous and prey on your kids.

it is the religious right and moral absolutists who lump homosexuality with paedophelia, necrophelia and bestiality. centuries ago, in europe, marrying someone outside your race constitutes bestiality.

people have inclinations, but what makes an act wrong is the disrespect of consent. when two gay men want to love each other and/or have sex, it's consent to me and i don't really bother about them, or attempt to guilt-trap them.

if you fuck a dog, the dog wouldn't be able to consent to it, because it can't speak, and it doesn't have the same capacity as human beings to make the consent. so i think that is morally wrong.

some bisexual people are sexually attracted to both genders, or turned on by the sight of and interaction with certain body parts of the two sexes. it's simply based on individual taste and inclination.

queer-ness is probably inside most of us, but our behaviours are regulated by family, society and people who follow certain unspoken and unchallenged rules. this is why some GLBT folks are forced into their closets, to live a lie and to pretend, otherwise their social and economic/professional lives will suffer because there is a moral mob that is out to make them pay for being "deviant"/different.

straight people don't have to justify themselves, like saying "THIS IS HOW I FEEL! I LOVE WOMEN! OMG!!!!" and that is probably why most of us will never understand what it's like to be in the closet and coming out to justify our sexual orientation.

imagine if everyone ate pork and you don't like/eat pork. it's an ideological thing and you will suffer some dissonance if you comply with everyone else. but that's a bad example, because your beliefs/principles is your choice/choosing. but for sex, if you get an erection everything you see a naked woman dancing before you, that is something you can't suppress. so i guess there's some "nature" to it, although i wouldn't want to reduce everything to a social construct or to "nature" itself. it's a bit of both.