Conversation with Mike about Gay Issues: Opinions vs Evidence

I had a chat with someone online about the acceptance of gay issues. I will call him Mike (not his real name, but I do not have his real name either). Mike had written to me about the article that I had written a few days ago. Please see below the discussion.

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Mike: Nice life story. It was indeed a good read.

Me: Hey, thanks for reading. I read that 377A might have a chance to be repealed, so it spurred me to write.

Mike: Sorry to disappoint but I’m not in favour of that. As hyprocritical as it may sound.

Me: Why are you not?

Mike: Well you would have to have an open mind to take in what I have to say. You ok with that?

Me: Sure, I do

Mike: Ok I’m a christian too for starters. God created Adam and Eve. Not adam and adam. Hence it was fashioned so that man and women are the established ‘natural-order’. If you view this in a religious way. This is the way it is meant to be.

Me: Lol. Sure. Are you gay?

Mike: I’m twisted, rather. Was bicurious and now bisexual.

Me: Twisted! Why do you consider yourself a bisexual?

Mike: Because of various incidences in my childhood days which i prefer not to disclose

Me: Sure. How do you reconcile being a Christian with liking men then?

Mike: I have yet to find out.

Me: And you believe that what you have been told about your faith is the truth then?

Mike: Certainly.

Me: Sure. But what about the other parts of the Bible which talk about the acceptance of incest and rape of women? That is true then?Mike: Which part of the bible says that?

Me: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eliza-wood/todd-akin-the-bible-and-r_b_1819333.html
http://listverse.com/2008/05/26/top-6-incestuous-relationships-in-the-bible/

Mike: But there are many versions of the Bible. Which one are you referring to? (For this bit of the conversation, I had lost the actual transcript – this was in essence what Mike had asked.)

Me: If there are many versions of the Bible, which would be the right one?

Mike: Roman Catholic one. I looked up those verses and there were no such stories about women.

Me: Sure. I am not well versed in the Bible. Lol. Well of course, I believe in my right to love, as you have read and I will champion marriage between me and my partner, when I have one.

Mike: Roman Catholics have the first versions of the bible. Then came King David who didn’t like the idea that the bible stated that a man cannot have more than one wives.\n\nSo he broke away from the church and established a new christianity (Protestant) and a new bible. This bible is editted and had more ‘book’s inside removed from the chapters.
It was basically this. He wanted God on his terms.\n\nDo you want God on your terms or on his.

Me: So I suppose the other Christians are wrong then?

Mike: I can’t say for myself for I am not God. But since he broke away from the church. The later years saw ‘hell’.

Me: I will go to hell then?

Mike: I have no answer to that. Even the bible says somewhere that a person can still be saved at the last moment. It’s all Gods decision.

Me: What about the Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus?

Mike: Are you asking because you’re cynical or you really want to know more?

Me: I am asking to question. Neither cynical.

Mike: In answer to your previous question. I think not. Let’s put it this way. If a Muslim man carries out his faith. Does good. Helps others when possible. Tries to live a holy life dies.\n\nNow compared to a Christian or Buddhist who instead does bad. Makes use of others. The opposite of the Muslim stated above.\n\nI’d say the Muslim should be saved. I’d rather be a Musim then. Because being in a religon doesn’t mean that you’re saved, this is the mindset of the new-age christian (God died for us so we are SAVED)

Me: That’s true. And what if a Buddhist does good? Will you be a Buddhist?

Mike: Yeah

Me: And if in Buddhism, homosexuality is not specifically ostracised, will you agree then that being gay is acceptable?

Mike: I wouldn’t, but in a different conjucture. How do I put it.

Me: What do you mean?

Mike: Ok aside from religion. Because if you put it that way, people can jump religons just to be ‘accepted’ wouldnt that be the case? Remember the God on your terms or his.

Me: I did not say that. You did.  Aren’t you then interpreting Buddhism based on Christian beliefs?

Mike: Oh no, speaking in general of all religions. Instead of just using two.

Me: And what of the religions which do not speak against homosexuality and what of the religions which accepts homosexuality? Are these religions acceptable? Are these religions true?

Mike: Exactly. One would have to decide on his own. Most of the time the parents introduce their offspring to the faith. They will decide what to believe in. This much will be true.

Me: That’s true. Will you deny liking men, even if you know it’s who you are, because your religion says so?

Mike: Probably wouldn’t because of the way I feel. I would probably resist the urge or try to come out of it.

Me: What of Catholics who have interpreted that the homosexuality is acceptable, as many have?

Mike: We’ll have to have the Pope and it’s consequent leaders to look into that. Partly the reasons have reasons behind them. I would put it this way. You can be whatever you want. The things is, being whatever you want to be has restrictions (like laws etc.).\n\nBe it Gays or Lesbians, the introduction of these sexualities have caused a huge spike in infections.\n\nPartners aren’t as faithful to each other (most of them are ONS and those with LTR don’t last long) I think this much is true if you’ve been in the scene long enough to know what the situation is like.

Me: But research has shown that what you said isn’t true but the opposite is. The legalisation of gay sex and gay marriage has been likened to reduce HIV infection. And that the lack of acceptance among gay people and the consequent low self esteem is what causes them to take risk and be infected, and what causes them to not allow themselves to form fulfilling relationships. In order for infections to be reduced and people to form fulfilling relationships, gays should be accepted. And gay marriage legalised. This is what research has shown and so we should legalise gay sex and gay marriage, yes?

Mike: Fair enough. What about the human population then? Gay’s/Lesbians who want to adopt kids will have them losing part of their gender. Imbalance in the x / y gene. Because they don’t have a proper family. A mother to show love and concern while dad shows responsibility and leadership. “Syphilis, for example, is 19 times more common among homosexual than heterosexual women. Male homosexual practices are especially destructive, because the male reproductive organ and the male bodily openings are not made for each other. ”

Me: There is research which shows that kids with gay parents will do just as well as kids with straight parents. It’s not the gender or sexual orientation that matters. It’s the quality of parenting that matters. Any parent that can provide a child with a safe, conducive and loving environment to grow can allow the child to grow well, whether the parent is straight or gay is irrelevant to the child’s growth.

Mike: That is not true.

Me: How so?

Mike: The human design. The way procreation was made. Was through men and women.

Me: I thought you had brought up the issue of parenting? we are now back to human design?

Mike: Desgin it to procreation as to raising a child. To raise a child, both are needed because the female is better designed for nurture, the male for protection. To teach him, both are needed because every young one needs two models, one of his own sex, one of the other. Neither Mom nor Dad is dispensable. I dare say that “parent is straight or gay is irrelevant to the child’s growth” is thus untrue.

Me: http://www.livescience.com/17913-advantages-gay-parents.html

“Research has shown that the kids of same-sex couples — both adopted and biological kids — fare no worse than the kids of straight couples on mental health, social functioning, school performance and a variety of other life-success measures. In a 2010 review of virtually every study on gay parenting, New York University sociologist Judith Stacey and University of Southern California sociologist Tim Biblarz found no differences between children raised in homes with two heterosexual parents and children raised with lesbian parents. “There’s no doubt whatsoever from the research that children with two lesbian parents are growing up to be just as well-adjusted and successful” as children with a male and a female parent,” Stacey told LiveScience.”

“The bottom line, Stacey said, is that people who say children need both a father and a mother in the home are misrepresenting the research, most of which compares children of single parents to children of married couples. Two good parents are better than one good parent, Stacey said, but one good parent is better than two bad parents. And gender seems to make no difference. While you do find broad differences between how men and women parent on average, she said, there is much more diversity within the genders than between them.”

“In fact, the only consistent places you find differences between how kids of gay parents and kids of straight parents turn out are in issues of tolerance and open-mindedness, according to Goldberg. In a paper published in 2007 in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Goldberg conducted in-depth interviews with 46 adults with at least one gay parent. Twenty-eight of them spontaneously offered that they felt more open-minded and empathetic than people not raised in their situation.”

“If same-sex marriage does disadvantage kids in any way, it has nothing to do with their parent’s gender and everything to do with society’s reaction toward the families, said Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell, the author of “Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2010).”

Mike: They’re still not modelled under the human design. Yes they can raise the kid but it still takes both sexes to raise and teach the kid. Homosexuals cannot model male-female relationships.

Me: So what you are saying is you choose to believe contrary to what evidence suggests? That it’s not about the gender and sexual orientation but the quality of parenting?

Mike: Unless the gay person is a very girly type LOL…that would be weird too.

Me: But the article has stated clearly that it doesn’t matter what the gender is – so it doesn’t matter if the gay person is so-called “manly” or “girly” or that the lesbian person is “manly” or “girly”. What matters is not the gender (and sexual orientation) but the quality of parenting. So if both fathers, who are “straight-acting”, if you would like, are good parents, the child will benefit from this quality parenting.

Mike: Sure they can. What of procreation there after? If the child turns to be gay or lesbian, what would happen to the population?\n\nIf the child turns straight, how does he/she handle one when he never knew how to do so with a female?

Me: Firstly, research has shown that less than 10% or 4% of the population is gay. It is hardly possible that procreation will cease because only a few people are gay. Otherwise, the world would have ceased centuries ago. We wouldn’t have 7 billion people on this people exhausting our resources. So procreation will occur – you don’t have to worry about that. The population will continue to explode because there are so many more straight people. And if the child turns out straight, almost everyone else around him (or her) is straight. If you ask a teenager, by the time he or she is in their teens, they would be learning from their peers. They will be learning from the other role models in the media. There are enough role models. More than enough. So there, you don’t have to worry. Anyway, based on your question, are you suggesting that straight parents actually do teach their child how to have sex now? – Are you suggesting that gay parents should also teach their children how to have sex? I can assure you that a gay parent will be more likely to teach their child about sexuality issues and prepare their child to be responsible in dealing with these issues.

Mike: true

Me: I can also assure you that gay parents will read up about sexuality issues, even if it does not pertain to their interest areas, because they would need to educate their child responsibly about these issues. But then again, this doesn’t pertain to either gender or sexual orientation. it is about the quality of parenting and whether parents are responsible.

Mike: Know what, we’ll just wait and see how things go in the near future because you can have articles and research, but time will tell all

Me: You are right. We just have to wait and see. Already at least 10 countries have legalised same sex or equal marriages, and already more than 30 countries have civil unions. In our region, Vietnam and Taiwan are considering legalising marriage between gay people as well. The debate over gay issues is part of a larger debate over civil issues that has been debated for centuries. Then, it was women, and blacks. Women and blacks, at one time, were seen as less than equal to men, and could not vote. But now they can. The current civil rights debate centre around gay people. Discrimination and the subjugation of rights of others will always exist because of people. People’s fears and their insecurities with themselves. Thus discrimination will always exist as long as we are not able to come to terms with ourselves and to learn to manage our insecurities.

Mike: A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Let’s see how it goes.

Me: And what do you mean by this? – “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Let’s see how it goes.”

Mike: If gay / lesbian sex/marriages are indeed allowed. We’ll see if the outcomes are good or bad.

Me: What if in a parenthood where the two gay persons are good people, who volunteer, who respect the rights of others, who give their seats to those who need and who care for other people – what if they are good people, can they be good parents?

Mike: Sound like a good upbringing, yes. what if they are brought up to be sex maniacs and run around looking for the right partners

Me: Who are brought up to be “sex maniacs”? The children? Why do you think they will be brought up to be “sex maniacs”?

Mike: Parents?\nWhy would I think? Because anything can happen.

Me: Can it happen to straight parents as well?

Mike: I think you know the answer to that question yourself.

Me: So your answer is, yes, I presume?

Mike: No doubt.

Me: And if that’s the case, then I think you would agree that it’s not the gender or sexual orientation of the parent that matters but the quality of parenting that matters – whether the parent can inculcate in the child the right values and have the awareness to raise the child to be a respectable person?

Mike: and otherwise

Me: Otherwise?

Mike: Quality of parenting. Can work both ways.

Me: What do you mean by that – that it can work both ways?

Mike: Having a good parenting and bad parenting. Regardless of the gender of parents.

Me: That is true. And we agree on this. But you would still think that gay people are not acceptable, in spite of the evidence which shows that regardless of the gender and/or sexual orientation of a person, he or she, as long as he/she is a good person, and is able to provide a child with quality parenting, can still be a valuable person to humanity?

Mike: Yes.

Me: So it would seems – and correct me if I am wrong – that your unwillingness to accept gay people as equal people arises from your own personal opinions, rather than based on conclusive evidence?

Mike: Yes. Because evidence is subjective. Singapore is one to the many bad examples.

Me: Agreed. Evidence is necessarily subjective. Why would you form those opinions though? – that gay people are not acceptable? and you have said it’s based on your catholic beliefs?

Mike: Partially.

Me: There are other reasons? What other reasons?

Mike: Like those I’ve stated earlier up. Though contrary to the articles you’ve brought up.

Me: Oh yes. those that I have debunked through evidence.

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My Fellow Singaporeans: I am Roy. I am Gay and This is My Story

Hi, I am Roy. I am gay and this is my story.

When I was in Primary 5, my form teacher had made me the class chairperson. He felt that I had the maturity and responsibility to represent the class. In Primary 6, I was given the Model Student of the Year award. This continued in my later school years, where in Secondary 1, I was made the class chairperson, before becoming a student councillor, and also in my junior college years, when I was made the class representative, and representatives of most subjects that I had undertaken. Things weren’t always rosy. Learning to be responsible was based on trial and error. It was also a journey to understand myself, to understand what was right and wrong and what I should do, in a position of responsibility. But so is life.

In Primary 5, there was a Malay girl and an Indian girl who had kept to themselves. The class was made up of largely Chinese students and because they were more comfortable speaking in Mandarin, they had formed cliques among themselves, mostly. I decided to make friends with the Malay and Indian girls, partly because I never felt myself as belonging to cliques, and they also seemed like friendly people. When I was in reservist a few weeks ago, there was this Indian guy who was in the same vocation as some of us but when we had gone for a firing range, he had kept silent mostly. Most of the other guys were simply more comfortable speaking in Mandarin because of their background. So, I thought that I would start making conversations with him, since if it was me, I would like to be able to speak to someone for the hours that we were going to be there. It turned out that he was a funny and smart guy and we had engaging conversations. Some other people also began having conversations with him because he was interesting to talk to! In my current group of close friends, two of my closest friends are Malay. I do not seek out specifically to make friends of any ethnicity but if it so happens that I hit it off well with anybody, I would be grateful for the opportunity to establish closer relationships with them.

I had generally done quite well in school. Academically, I was top in Geography, English Literature and Art in some of my secondary and junior college years and had won awards. I was also on the Dean’s List for one semester when I had studied in the National University of Singapore. (I do not mean to bring this up because I am proud of my academic achievements and want to highlight them – no. What I want is to share with you the different facets of my life, so please understand it in this way.)

I wasn’t really an athlete though. I know some gay guys are. But I am not. I am bad with balls, period. Not all balls of course. I was good with the shuttlecock. But that’s because mom had also represented her school in badminton and she taught us how to play it well – at least then! So yes, I am generally terrible with most balls and I am relatively OK with the shuttlecock, thank god.

When I was in national service, I was what you would describe as being “garang”. I was always one of the first to do things or to volunteer, if it was within my capability. See, I had believed that if we could do things fast, and if we could help each other along, we could get things done quicker and we could move things along faster. During my NSF days, I could even manage gold for IPPT and finished the Standard Obstacle Course in about 8 minutes. For the most part, I don’t believe in the regimentation that the army had enforced though, because forced discipline takes the autonomy out of people and it has been shown in numerous research that when people do not have the autonomy to do things according to their own will, they would have lesser commitments and ownership over what they do, and the standards would necessarily be lowered. But of course, with autonomy comes responsibility, and if we want to be given the trust to handle things, we would need to be aware of this responsibility and exercise it wisely.

I told my family that I am gay at various stages in my life. I had told 3 of my closest friends that I am gay when I was 15, and then I had decided to tell my sister as well, who was older and whom I was close to. She started telling me of many of her gay friends, who appeared out of nowhere, and how they had decidedly turned straight all of a sudden. I told my mom when I was 20. When she realised the meaning of what I had said, she cried and went into “denial” for many years. I told my younger sister that I was gay when in my early twenties. She never did speak to me about it in the initial years after I told her. I never did tell my dad but I had brought my boyfriends home before, and he has seen me surf gay social networking websites and go on mobile phone applications.

Before I had told my family that I was gay, I thought that we were the model family. We had relatively good relationships and we would talk about issues and come out with solutions together. But after I told them that I am gay, we grew apart. They didn’t know how to deal with the fact that I was gay and I resented them for not being able to deal with it. Gradually, I stopped feeling close to them and reduced the amount of conversations that I had with them. I wanted to move out of the house. On hindsight, I realised that they needed their time and space to deal with the information that I had presented to them. No one had spoken to them about what being gay is like, and what they knew about being gay was from what they had heard or seen in the media – it was portrayed negatively and as something to be judged. Because I had rejected them as well, I did not share with them more about my life and had allowed them to also adopt these media-influenced stereotypical views about me.

The turning point came when my older sister got married a few years ago. I was so touched and happy for her. Slowly, my defences towards my family came down and I started reaching out to them again. In my eagerness to want to be accepted, I had forgotten that they, as well as I, needed our time and space to learn more about one another and to grow with one another in this journey. Only during then was I able to realise this and could start allowing myself to open up to them again. I learnt to respect that they have their journeys to understanding, just as I had mine, and we need to learn to respect one another for that. Gradually, my sisters learnt and understood that I am still a respectable person, who happens to be gay, and who still believes in love, commitment and a long term partnership with someone whom I can be with for a long time. My mother started speaking to me about boys. Sometimes she would continue to be in a state of denial but sometimes she would surprise me with her words of advice. I had asked her once about why I had to go out with guys with which nothing would work out thereafter. She advised that perhaps that was how I could then learn to find out more about what I want in my partner – by meeting these men to learn more, and she was right. Dad and I never discussed about my being gay, but I know he is OK because he had once mentioned that no matter which partner that we choose to eventually be with, what matters is that we are happy. And dad has learnt to respect and trust me for what I know and understand.

During the few years when I was upset with my family, I had also undergone a period of learning for myself. In my late teens and early twenties, I have met, dated and gotten involved with many men. Some of them came into my life for a few weeks or a month and then disappeared from my life. I didn’t understand why and blamed myself for it. I thought that I wasn’t good enough. I felt that there had to be something about me which people found not worthy. Because of the low self worth that I had for myself, I started rejecting other people in the same way that I was rejected. For many years, I knew that I had low self esteem, and I knew that I needed to learn to become stronger and more confident of myself. But I didn’t know how to. I thought that if I could find someone else to love me that this person could help me become more confident and that I could learn to love myself more. Of course this didn’t happen because when they say you need to love yourself before you could love someone, it is true. Because of my low self esteem, I would bring my insecurities into relationships that I was in. I would start being distrustful and judgmental towards my partners because I felt that I wasn’t good enough and would come out with reasons to think that they would want to leave me for someone else.

See, first of all, I didn’t know how to manage relationships. I didn’t have any relationship to look to or learn from. I wasn’t taught in school how to manage relationships or handle sexual relations. As a society, we choose to be embarrassed about the very thing that we spring out from. The sad thing is that as teenagers, we go through the same concerns that our youths have – when should I have sex, should I have sex, what should I do if my partner wants sex, how should I insist on condom use if my partner doesn’t want to use a condom, and so on. As teenagers, we think about these things but when we become parents, we choose to forget about these and we choose to allow our youths to be put in harm’s way because we have issues dealing with our own beliefs about sex. We become selfish. We think we have to conform to certain norms – society says we cannot talk about sex and we shouldn’t. My religion says I should not encourage discussion about sex and even if I know that in my youth, I would need information on sexuality issues, I will deny the right of youths to have that because my religion says so. We think we know better, but truth is, we have become influenced by others and we speak what others speak, and what authority speaks because we want to belong and be part of a group. We are scared of being different, sidelined – to become an outcast. And then we start discriminating. Against other ethnicities  nationalities, the elderly etc. It becomes a chronic societal issue.

In the past few years, I have embarked on a journey to learn and discover more about myself. Along the way, I’ve read more than 100 books to learn how to love myself, to strengthen my self belief and become a more confident person. Now I know that I need to believe in myself and my own worth. I will insist on using condoms because I know that I need to protect my own health. Over the past few years, I have tried to be less judgmental and to be more empathetic. I try to understand the lives and circumstances of others as far as I can so that I wouldn’t judge but would learn to then accept and embrace who others are. I have learnt that if I can be happy and contended, I would not look at others and compare myself with them. I’ve learnt that even if others disagree with me or with what they believe to be me, I need to respect that they should be given the space and time to understand and digest their beliefs and make sense of them. For some people, they don’t think through their beliefs because they choose to wholeheartedly absorb what is told to them, and that’s fine. I have to respect that.

Why am I sharing this story with you, my fellow Singaporeans. I am gay but being gay doesn’t define me. Being gay is only one aspect of me which I am proud of, yes, but it is not something that makes me who I am. It is definitely something that has enriched me. I had to learn to understand why people choose to look at me differently and sometimes, judge me. I had to learn to understand why people are not able to accept me and why they hold the attitudes they hold. It has made me more introspective and more aware, not only of myself, but of others as well, and for the better. I’ve learnt that people judge because they do not know. They see a gay person and that’s all they see. But is it any fault of theirs? Humans process information according to how much they can contain – To understand that a gay person has different aspects to his/her life takes time and most people simply think it’s easier to judge a person as being gay than to understand the person as a whole. And this is why I have decided to share this story. I am like the friend you have, your classmate, neighbour or a family member. And I am gay. Are our lives any different? No. But I am gay, and because of that, you might have certain judgments because you think you should have them, because that’s what others say you should have. I am giving us an opportunity to understand me better.

There are hundreds and thousands of gay men and women in Singapore. Some of them live with low self esteem and self-judgment. Some of them live their lives feeling lesser of themselves because they think that their family or friends are not able to accept them. They are then unable to have fulfilling relationships and lead destructive lives. But this doesn’t have to be. I have learnt to be stronger and to learn to embrace myself. I have learnt to understand the importance of my life and to live it as proudly as I can. And I know my fellow gay friends can as well. But we need your understanding.

What I am asking for is a right to live my life as a person. I seek to live a life where I lead mine, and you lead yours, and we learn to understand and respect one another and our spaces. What I am asking for is not for the right to love to be returned to be but for the right for me to love to be reinstated back in the law, for the law to not make me a lesser human being. Whether people accept me or not, I will lead my life proudly because I am assured of myself. But I hope that they do because as a whole, we can make this world a better place. Truly, we can.

I am writing this because I care for the people around me and I want them to lead happier, fulfilling lives.

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