Saturday, October 18, 2014

Be and let be

It’s a simple question nobody seems to have a simple answer to: why are some people gay?

I was invited to be a speaker at the 5th Parents’ Congress organized by the Child & Family Service Philippines and the SLU Sunflower Children’s Center last October 11, and I was assigned this topic: “Doing Good for our LGBT Children: Psychological Tips on Raising Happy Gay Kids.”

I arrived early so I got to listen to the presentation of Ms. Annie Salvador, and she said something that almost made me review my own presentation, perhaps even revise it: according to research, “homosexuality MAY NOT BE ENTIRELY learned or acquired.” Caps mine.

I sat there, waiting for my turn at the podium, thinking: I don’t have scientific research or studies to cite, and only had experience to go by. Does that count?

Because, see, I was born in the 70s, to a mother who’s a theater actress. You know what they say about theater, so yeah, I grew up surrounded by gay people. In fact, I was told that at my Christening, all my godparents were gay men save for one woman. One of them found time to gather butterflies to release in church to celebrate my baptism. Another came in drag.

Later in life, at 14, I myself would enter the world of theater. My very first professional gig was directed by a brilliant theater artist - gay. That production was handled by one of the best stage managers in the industry - gay. I was curious about what goes on backstage and worked as a stagehand for a while before eventually becoming a stage manager myself eventually. And as one, I got to work with some of the greatest theater artists in the country, and a lot of them were gay.

In all those years working for various theater companies in Manila, easily half, maybe more, of my colleagues and friends were either gay, lesbian or bisexual. I even learned to speak the lingo, which prompted my own mom to ask me one night: are you gay?

So why am I straight? All the “ingredients” were present for me to “learn” or “acquire” homosexuality. Heck, I even found my gay-couple friends’ relationships kinda cool that I actually wondered if I could ever be in one. But when I thought about it, I found the idea of myself being intimate with another man repulsive, perhaps in the same way that a gay man would find the idea of being intimate with a woman repulsive too. Bisexuals are kinda lucky, if you ask me.

On the other hand, I have a son who was raised in a “straight” environment – as a child we played all those “masculine” games, I taught him to climb trees, play basketball, hit cans with a slingshot, he had monster trucks and action figures, etc. He’s gay, and proud of it, as I am of him too.

See, from where I stand, it’s not a virus, nor a bacterium that anyone can catch. Nor is it a “mannerism” or “skill” that can be learned or acquired. We are either born straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual – some of us embrace our sexual orientation, whatever that may be, and live happily outside the closet, others spend their lives inside it and in denial, oftentimes forced to do so by external influences: relations, peers, community, society.

But who can really deny nature? Dams burst because we try to deny water’s nature. Grass will grow no matter how many times you mow the lawn. Birds in cages can never be as beautiful as the ones soaring in the sky.

So yeah, be and let be.

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