This year, my family made the ridiculous effort of having me engaged to a beautiful woman from a respectable family. A perfect match, many say: an aspiring lawyer and a trophy wife. But no. And no, this isn’t my confusion for I have already set my mind on not getting tied. Because, you see, I am gay.
The world calls me and others like me many names, most too tasteless to mention. We are often stereotyped and branded. The world is at times harsh, especially this misguided society where bigotry is sickeningly still present. People taunt us, demean us, discriminate against us, and humiliate us as if they were any smarter, wealthier, or more talented.
Many of us show signs, mostly unconsciously but some deliberately, as an assertion of his or her identity. These people have it worse in taunts and jeers. Some like me have grown with reservation, myself having learned to put up an image since my adolescence because of the propriety expected by my family and peers. Some try to conceal it consciously, albeit in an overdone way. Some are cloaked in a tough demeanor but engage in secret affairs. Some even have families—and clandestine double lives.
I have lived long enough to see every species. We know and can smell our kind. And we come in many varied forms, from different walks of life, from different backgrounds and upbringing. Some have faith but many are spiritually lost. The stereotypical parlorista gay is so 1980s.
The connotation of “confused” is a state of identity crisis where one is in doubt of his virility and is starting to be aware of the lack of it. Usually, this happens in one’s early teens. But, more than identity crisis, I call it a stage of struggle—a struggle against one’s natural urges which, one realizes, are unlike others’ and which one’s family or peers look at with humiliation. But “confused” is a mere euphemism for a budding homosexual. It is not really a state of confusion for at 12 or 13, one is no longer confused but is already aware that he is not like the rest of his troop in the Boy Scouts. Rather, it is a long and difficult period of coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation, which is deemed unnatural in a society that glorifies machismo and is largely dictated to by the Church in terms of moral standards. Some remain in it up to their late twenties, thirties, or forties.
Now I am confused. But not in the sense I have just mentioned. This time it’s different. At 27, I am way past it. I am confused because I am a devout Christian, with what I consider an unwavering faith. Can I be Christian and gay? Looking for answers, I attended several Christian churches, all of which have the clear-cut doctrine that downright condemns homosexuality as sin, and some even as a curse. Imagine how I felt when I was handed this booklet about how dirty and sinful being gay is. My faith and my nature apparently cannot reconcile. Am I bound to burn in hell? Are the pleasure and bliss of sex exclusively for the heterosexual? Are we not entitled to love and be loved? What a bleak life it must be for us if it were so. And what have we done to deserve this?
Hence, I cannot possibly take everything men preach hook, line, and sinker. There must be another way out. If you have answers, do let me know. I have read the Bible yet I cannot find anything to justify my personal conviction. Or maybe I did not comprehend it well, or deeply, enough.
It has been established that homosexuality is not a psychological disorder but an indelible but normal sexual orientation which is etched perhaps in our early formative years or, as many say, because of genetic predisposition. Psychologists have proposed a number of theories. But regardless of its causes, the bottom line is: We can never change. It is hard-wired in our brains, never taught, never learned, and never acquired.
Neither can we change our childhood, whatever went wrong there. It has never been a choice, contrary to what many believe. Trust me; I had zealously tried, in my “confused” years, just like millions of others like me, to fight this feeling, only ending up in frustration and self-hate. I acted tough and did what the rest of them boys did. Who would want to be isolated from his or her peers? Who would want to live with the stigma? Who wouldn’t want to live as his family or peers expect of him?
But eventually, all this pretense would take its toll on you. If you say it is something that one can overcome, as my family has always believed—I came out to them just recently—then you deserve to be educated, and it best be by a gay person. You must possibly know one. Ask him or her and be not judgmental for once. Trust me; he or she will say the same thing: that a 180-degree change is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. There has never been a case of a total successful “conversion.” It is just silly and futile. If there be any claim to that effect, I call it hypocrisy.
Hypnotism, psychotherapy, religious counseling and what have you have never worked. Some have even experimented with electroconvulsive therapy. There is nothing wrong with us, to begin with. We are no different from others in abilities and vulnerabilities. And we are as moral as any straight person if guided with the right spirituality.
The root of my predicament is that religion has always been at odds with science and has rarely and reluctantly conceded to the truths the latter has presented over the centuries, from Galileo to Darwin to Freud. The Church has to realize that it will not hurt to concede but, rather, it would remove obscurity from the Gospel and even foster it. I turned out gay without anything that triggered it—or maybe something did, but it’s something I can neither recall nor undo.
Nevertheless, I am God’s creation and plan. Can God then despise and condemn someone whose very nature He made? Should I be forced into a “normal” married life of hypocrisy or into abstinence from expression of true love which the Church deems “detestable” and “unnatural,” lest I sin or, worse, be cursed? Why must the Church set this needless dichotomy? Are we deprived by virtue of our nature to show and receive love? That is not how I see our compassionate and loving God. The Scriptures were construed by mere men in a chauvinistic and archaic context without taking into account human nature and its complexities. I love the Church but, sadly, it cannot embrace this believer. And I cannot be a half-hearted worshipper. And I cannot found my own congregation either. The Church has to adapt and be open to this notion, else it will lose millions of souls it could have won for God. It will not hurt our society’s moral health but instead draw and edify what would otherwise be sinners that the Church has long scorned.
Pigs need not fly. The Church will come around and open its arms to us gays one day. I hope I will live long enough to see it.
Damien Dee-Llamas, 27, is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman, and teaches English, Spanish, and French in his hometown.
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