Monday, September 13, 2010

Education Matters

Quite a long time ago, when I first came out to myself, I tried to browse about Indonesian gay and lesbian forum. Please notice that we're talking about a time seven years back from now. I was highly disappointed. There weren't any with a positive note. In fact, there was this straight guy who said that he was curious to know more about the LGBT community in Indonesia, since he knew that we existed but the media only told him about the negative sides of the community. He asked nicely if anybody could tell him the positive sides of us. Nobody bothered to answer, and even a guy, I assumed a gay guy, even told him to 'leave us alone'. The ladies weren't so positive either. Most believed that being gay is a sin, and some even went to the length of swearing to live a celibate life despite having a female partner. I left the forums immediately and never come back.

Listening to such rantings about being sinful, being fearful of the people, etc, might be frustrating to those of us who have come to accept who we are and gain enough confidence to live our lives proudly. We know that being gay is only a part of us and not to mess up with our qualities and even use that as a motivator to strive to be better than heterosexuals. Those of us most probably had a good education, maybe even graduating from abroad, having a good position in some well-respected company, maybe already successful and even rich. But don't forget, the LGBT community is a far wider community than that. Not all of us are butch, not all of us are rich, and certainly not all of us had the chance to be educated so liberally.

It was easy to forget how we've come this far, wasn't it? Now that everybody around us looked up to us in awe, adored us while knowing that we're gay, we thought that every LGBT people should strive to be like us. We look down on those who still believed they're sinners. We looked down to those with great fear of being caught holding a lesbian book. We looked down to those who would not come out although they were apparently gay.

If we really want to build a strong and solid community, we have to include everyone. It's hard enough being judged as minority by other people, why would we judge our own brothers and sisters? No one asked you to be best friends, but please stop looking down and judging each other. It started to look like a caste system within the community, and I don't like it one bit.

There are two kinds of brave people: those who were gifted to be fearless from birth, and those who learn to be fearless. Nobody can say I'm a coward, except when it comes to approaching girls I like.. but that's another matter altogether... hehe. But I was one of those who had to learn how to be brave. I was a very fearful child. Until now, fear is in my nature. But I have learned to beat it, never let it get the best of me. Yes, I was trembling when I stood on the edge of that 11th floor building, but I rappled down anyway. Yes I was scared of roller coaster but I got on anyway. Heck, at my first coming out I was white as snow and feverish, but I blurted out the words anyway. Being scared is natural, being a coward is a choice. It took education and learning process to know the difference. But what I hate is when those who are gifted with a brave soul looked down on those who needed to learn, instead of helping them to get over it.

I tried to tell people that being gay is not a sin, that we shouldn't condemn ourselves but take our difference as a gift. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I don't plan to stop. I won't teach anybody to bail out of their religion, but sometimes we should UNDERSTAND our belief instead of taking everything words per words. The choice is still theirs and I respect it. That's the point, isn't it? When there is someone who would step forward and be a leader, we applaud and support them. When there isn't anyone, we wait and making progress. It doesn't do to force someone who isn't willing to come out to do so, and then when they lost their friends or families as a result, we would just say, "Well, that's the risk." Coming out is not a prove of how brave you are, blindly coming out just because your friends dare you to do it is plain stupid. It is a declaration done for and ONLY for yourself, when you feel the need to do it and is prepared to accept the risk. Doing it for any other reason is careless and dangerous (imagine if you suddenly come out to your grandmother who has high temper, high blood pressure, and heart disease!). Of course the more people come out publicly the better it is for our visibility (well, except for Ryan, that is), but since I'm not going to be the first to step up, I will never point a finger to another.

Well, my point is, if we want to come together as a society we should reach out more. To those who are less fortunate than us in term of self-esteem or education, and to those who are ignorant of the community. It's not easy, and it's not quick, but at least my homophobic friends know not to use certain words when I'm around, and they have a better understanding about LGBT community and are not afraid to be friends with me. They still think it's a sin, though, but it's still much better. So many little things we can do to make this world a little bit better, without having to go on the cover of a magazine a la Ellen (although that's a very good thing to, hehe). Advice for things we can do is always welcome. :D

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