Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whoa, Watch It!

I feel like I’m on the verge of catching diabetes – that’s it, if saccharin-sweet movies can make your blood sugar higher. Ladies, if you gets weak on the knees from cheesiness, or if you like your ladies impossibly cute, or if you’re just in the mood of feeling good, then you must watch this.

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“Yes or No” is a Thailand movie. I’ve heard about it several times but I hadn’t had it in my mind to check it out mainly because I avoid the downloading. To you who don’t understand, I live where download rate of 30 KB/s is considered fast. Several days ago I read another recommendation for this movie, surprisingly almost the same time as when one of my facebook friends mentioned this movie in ‘Yucks! Lesbians!” fashion. I took that as a sign and watched this movie.

What I knew from those recommendations I read was that this is a good movie and is a light-hearted romance. I knew that the actresses were good looking at the very least, but my prejudiced side smirked at the stereotypical butch-femme pairing. Another part of me was suspicious, because this is an Asian movie after all, and we tend to have more drama. The last lesbian-themed Asian movie I watched was a Korean TV-movie called “Daughters of Billitis”. It was a movie well-done, but still had too much drama for my taste. Oh wait, there were also the classic Peony Pavilion starred Joey Wang (a really eye-candy movie…the cinematography is just so beautiful but I can’t remember the storyline that well) and the newly-released Sanubari Jakarta (good movie, but again, not one I would watch more than once) that I watched recently. So, yeah, I didn’t watch it until now mainly because of my prejudice. Guilty as charged.

Actually there are lots of drama in this movie, as well, but they’re not treated too darkly. There are more sadness than anger, and there are more forgiveness than jealousy. What I love about this movie is that it manages to stay true to its commitment to make the viewers feel good from beginning to end without giving up the storyline (some people might disagree on this, cause it’s like the writer is trying to make something happen but doesn’t follow through with it. I like it this way, though).

Talking about the storyline, this is a story about a college girl named Pie who asked to be moved to a new room because her roommate was a lesbian. Little did she know, she got a butch (or a tom, as they said it) as her new roommate instead. She hated Kim at the beginning, but slowly she warmed up to her. Kim did look like a boy, but I like it that she defied lots of butch definition. She was afraid of cockroaches and darkness, she liked cooking, and she even cleaned the room for Pie. She was also kind and caring, that she would be the ideal wife for many men if it wasn’t for the way she dress up.Of course she also fits lots of butch stereotypes, like playing games, farming (her major field of study), and playing ukulele/guitar, but I applaud the three-dimensional view of her character. Pie’s character could also be the stereotypical annoying princess in a lesser-skilled writers, but despite her high-maintenance trait, she’s also smart, loyal, and strong, which provided the bravery needed to pursue a relationship with Kim, I guess.

All of the other characters were treated with care, as well. There were Pie’s mom, who was highly conventional, although we never knew if she would someday change her view or not. But at least we never saw ugliness from her except for some harsh words. In the university we met Boy, who was a flamboyant guy, Jane, Pie’s ex-roommate who fell for Kim, and Jane’s new roommate who was silent most of the time. We also met Kim’s aunt who had a restaurant nearby and acted as the voice of reason, and Kim’s father who was the ideal father for any gay woman. Oh, and there was Waen, Pie’s admirer. Like Pie’s mom, he’s the bad guy here, but he did nothing that deserved my hatred.

I can’t judge the acting, cause it’s a movie from a different culture that I’m used too. Even the intonation of the speeches are not familiar for my ears. But as far as I can tell, the chemistry is definitely there and the attraction feels real. The soundtracks were great and served their purpose well. The cinematography was not excellent, but there were many beautiful scenes captured well throughout the movie. Overall, it’s worth trying at least once, just to see if you would like it.

I might be a bit biased in liking this movie because of its content. First of all, it’s about first love in a dormitory setting, something that had been taken to scenes before but usually ended in tragedy. It’s nice to see that for once, the teacher actually played part in getting them together instead of trying to separate them. Second of all, I can relate much about people judging Kim just by her appearance. In my life I’ve learned that how people treat me on street depends heavily on how long my hair is. With strangers, I’ll just turn a blind eye (and a deaf ear), but dealing with someone so important like… say, your mother-in-law-to-be, would be that much different, right? Third of all, this movie ends with something hopeful. Yes, it has a happy end, after all it’s a feel-good movie, but it doesn’t end with “and they live happily ever after”. It ends with something more like, “So, from here another story begins.” Just like the title says, this movie is just about the “yes or no”. We have yet to know what happens after.

So, whaddaya think? Interested? Wanna give it a try? (Psst, it can be found in the largest video website in the world, with the English subtitle, of course.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

You’ve Never Been


Note: I know it sounds awfully bitter to still lament about things that happened more than a month ago, but what the heck, that’s why this is my universe. Besides my life’s pretty much a hell hole right now. I’m gonna follow my own recipe for bearing any pain: dive right into it, cause it will hurt more, but then the pain will lessen. 

You’ve never been a lefty in the dark ages, killed by your parents as a child of the devil
You’ve never been a witch in Salem, burned to defend your calling
You’ve never been a Jew in Hitler’s reign, hunted like animals just for being born
You’ve never been a black man in apartheid law, born, lived and died a slave

You’ve never been a poor man with a child dying of hunger,
so you beat him to death for stealing a loaf of bread
You’ve never been a girl with a dying mother and no job to find,
so you spat at her when she sold herself on the street
You’ve never been a girl who was raped and got pregnant out of it,
so you mocked and looked down on her when she quitted school
You’ve never been a woman forced to marry a stranger and left her beloved behind,
so you told on her when she ran away and smirked when she was punished
And you’ve clearly never been in love
for you’re trying to forbid my heart from falling

There are lots of things you’ve never been, and I’ve never been, too. I don’t understand a lot of things that happened in this world, and what another person had to go through. But when they do tell, I listen. It’s not so hard to accept and forgive once you see the whole story, as long as you’re willing to step into their shoes. We might even learn a thing or two from their experiences. (Might be why I’m like a relationship consultant for my friends even though they know exactly that my love life is a big zero.) Too many people I know just never care, though. For them it’s their rules, their view, and if you disagree or view things differently, then you’re wrong. Their words are sweet and soothing, but what I see is lie and betrayal, precisely because they can’t say what’s really in their heart.

I just wish even one of them would listen. More than that I wish they would say aloud what they really think, cause they told me almost nothing. If they already said everything they knew, then they really knew nothing, which bothers me even more. If they know nothing, the should’ve ask me or look it up somewhere. Otherwise it seems that they don’t care about me even one bit – I’m not sure if I should be sad or angry – and that our friendship for all these years have been a lie, too. Lol… I’m surprised I’m not going crazy right now. I practically only have two friends right now – busy ones at that, and even at home I barely had anyone to talk to. (Yep, I half-blamed the coming out process for damaging my relationship with my mom.)

Well, I do develop some self-confidence over the years, and I’ve lost counts of people telling me how strong I am, but ‘confident’ and ‘strong’ are two words I haven’t used to describe myself these last three years. One of the top things in my mind after the rejection: Was I so unworthy that nobody even cares to listen? I wrote THREE long, unread explanations to two of my “friends”, and their reply was always short, and not related, to what I was writing. Not to mention another “friend” who usually kept in contact every once in a while, hadn’t contacted me at all since then. And yet another “friend” sent me a story of how children need a father and how damaging a lack of it will do to their future. (Oh please! That article was so invalid I’m not even sure where to begin!) Many people came out and kept their relationships intact, or they faced difficulties at first but their friends came to their senses sooner or later. These ‘friends’ I kept for years really prefer to pretend it didn’t happen and kept the silence – not just one or two of them, but all of them. The fault, I figured, must lie with me.

My logic is blaming them, but my heart keeps blaming myself… maybe that’s why I find it really difficult to let it go. Of course the fact that I’m in one of my lowest lows don’t help. I thank God for my sanity, but gosh, at times I just wish for “some insanity of that temporary kind”. Well, either way, I promise myself this would be my last post exclusively about this, online or otherwise. Just… wish me luck for the future progress.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Nothing Comes From Nothing


“Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn't listening.”
Emma Thompson

Wow… got lots of bad news these few weeks. I only hope against hope that this last one thing I’m looking forward to will turn up well. My saving of a whole year is in stake right now. The biggest blow of all for me, though, is not a matter of money or job. As usual, it’s a matter of acceptance.

So this week I came out to my college friends. We’ve been friends easily for seven years. I’ve already come out to two of them (at least I thought so) before, and they actually managed to keep befriending me despite their super-religious upbringing. Now that we could contact each other more easily than ever, I thought to come out to the rest of them. I knew those three wouldn’t like it, and I was prepared for the worst, that they would not accept me and stop befriending me. You know what? Never prepare that for the worst outcome. There are more ridiculously cruel scenarios that could easily fill that ‘worst’ spot.

Something went noticeably wrong since the second I uttered, “I’m gay”. They were so friendly just before that, saying things in the line of, “Yeah, we’ve got a thing or two to do, but we’re listening, anytime you need us.” But after that word was out, it was eerily quiet for a looong time. Maybe not that long, but it felt like forever to me. And the first word to pop out was, “Huh? I don’t understand.” *Banging head on the wall.*

So, from there I got a six-hour interview by friends I’ve known for years. Well, come to think of it, I’ve got tons of things I don’t know about them as well, but still this one’s a bit different. They asked about sex (I wanted to talk about feelings, but they insisted that if it’s not about sex, then I might not be gay, and those feelings are just sisterly. Fine!). They asked about my future with women. They even asked about children. Only one out of three persons to whom I came out to that day basically said directly that she didn’t approve of it although she would like to remain my friend. She said anything she said wouldn’t change me anyway. That’s good and fine by me, compared to what I’m about to face. Honestly speaking, though, I knew staying ‘friends’ with her was not possible. She would keep her distance for sure, and unless out paths somehow crossed again, basically our friendship is over.

At the end of the ‘interview’ I’ve got a little surprise. It turned out that the first person out of those five I came out to, thought that I was kidding all these years! I came out to her at least five years ago , for crying out loud! And hell yes, her attitude towards me did change a lot since then, although I never know if it was because she changed or because she knew I’m gay. Either way, the only thing she asked right out was if I’ve change (back to straight). Hell no! We debated for a moment, and I compared me being gay with being left-handed. She said that’s just not the same thing, and if I didn’t want to change then anything she said would be a waste. First of all, the point of comparison is to compare things that are NOT the same, but are similar in some points. And second of all, that similarity in being gay and left handed is that we don’t choose! We just somehow discovered that we’re different than the majority of people. Interestingly, she said she was left-handed when she were a kid. I asked, then how did it change? Naturally, or you forced yourself to change just to fit the ‘normal’ society? And she didn’t answer. In my opinion, if it happened naturally, good for her. But if she forced herself (or was forced) to change, then I pity her.

Anyway, surprisingly another very religious friend, who was one of the two interviewing me that day, defended me – that I couldn’t change. Even if I went back to dating men, I would still be bisexual, not heterosexual. I didn’t see that coming! That was quite a comprehension, and I gained hope that perhaps this friend would learn to accept me one day, if she knew enough. That day might never come, though. Just the day after, she sent me a message, telling me that she felt like she had just woken up from a nightmare. She wished this was all just a nightmare. I let that comment go, although I laughed inside, “If you’re THAT affected just because I’m gay, just be thankful it’s not YOU who had to wake up everyday with that feeling years ago.”

Then out of the blue she gave me this little advice: next time I fall in love with a girl, I should never act on it. –> Clue one: she has no remorse whatsoever to ask me to be celibate! I heaved a deep breath and prepare myself for another interview. I asked her, why shouldn’t I? She said, “We know it’s wrong. Since you can’t change, don’t act on it.” I shot back, “Who said I think it’s wrong to be gay?” And she asked, “So you feel you’re right?” –> Clue two: she didn’t ask, “So you think being gay is right?” but “So you think YOU’re right?” These two sentences seem similar, right? Don’t be fooled. There’s a huge difference. The first sentence acknowledges me having a different thought and she was curious. The second one means that she thought I was so conceited that I think I’m righter than her (God). Then I told her that I didn’t mind discussing the bible with her, as long as she promised not to get angry quickly. I thought that since she told me she felt like thinking about it critically, then she must’ve had a clear mind today. –> Clue three: critical doesn’t mean logical. For religious people it means looking at a problem not from a humanly capacity anymore, but from a Godly view - by pretending to be God.

She agreed to the discussion, so I pulled bits and facts about religious teaching about gays. In the beginning she responded and was engaged, but the more facts I threw in, the less I heard of her. After writing non-stop for about 15 minutes, I ended it with, “Bottom line, I don’t know about right or wrong and it’s not my place. It’s God’s place to judge. But all this facts only said that people only nitpicking on gays. There are hundreds of other ‘sins’ that people do freely everyday, and nobody condemns them. Being gay is not even a choice. Those other things are freely done by choice, and yet people still do it (I’m taking eating shrimp and wearing clothes made from different fabrics for examples).” She finally responded after a while. The only words she said was, “So you think you’re right. If that’s so then whatever I said would be a waste.” –> Clue four: exact same words with the other two before her. I asked her directly, “Did you even read what I wrote?” She said, “What’s the use? If you’re already so sure that you were right, nothing I said would change that.” I exploded after that. I basically told her if she talked to me with the intention to judge me and told me I was wrong, then thank you but no thanks. I’ve already heard those everywhere, I don’t need to hear those from a ‘friend’. She didn’t even read what I had to say! Shouldn’t it be me who said, “If you’re already so sure that I was wrong, then no matter what I said is a waste!”? Here I thought we’re having a discussion. Even if for nothing else, where’s the respect and courtesy of LISTENING to what the other party has to say?

So I told about my indignation to the second person I came out to, the one I consulted before I came out to these three. She was the most worldly one out of five in my eyes, and at least she kept interacting with me online after I came out to her. She even said that if those three couldn’t accept me, then what a small-minded people they are. Still, after my experience with that last person, I wondered what she really thought of my being gay. Was it so hard to view this matter from a human point of view instead of Godly view? I already expected what her response would be, but it still hurt a lot. She does wish I would change, or that God would change me. Which is fine by me, cause at least she doesn’t voice it out in words or action if it weren’t for me asking. But then she said, “You said that it’s God’s place to judge, don’t you think this is perhaps God’s message to you, though your friends?” Hm… and what’s the message? That I don’t deserve happiness in my lifetime, ever? –> That‘s the only “message” I see. Here’s the logic: being gay is wrong –> don’t act on it or marry a man –> I don’t get to love and to be loved, OR, spending the rest of my life with someone I don’t love –> no happiness in a lifetime. And this is the last straw: she saw me as a lost person. She said, “It’s okay to be lost. We’ve all been lost, but then we met people who tell us the right way to go.”

That’s exactly why I’m hurt, and sad, and angry. I’ve been telling them (and everyone for that matter) again and again and again. I’m NOT lost. I’ve been lost before, when I was in high school. I prayed and prayed. I bought a compass. I opened Google Maps. I got myself a GPS. And finally here I am, after a loooong search: in a path walked by fewer people who like mountains, leading to the mountaintops. I ended up in a path different from theirs. And then, they so casually said, “Hey, your path is wrong. A person is supposed to go to the ocean. Come over here, we’ll save you to the right path.” For the love of God! I don’t even like the ocean, even if I end up in the ocean what good will it do me?! (Uh… this is metaphorically speaking. In reality I do like the ocean… :D) 

So I told her as such. And that I couldn’t be friends with them, but acquaintances, maybe. Well, the descriptions of ‘friends’ differ in the usage, so that’s a bit vague. What I mean is ‘real friends’, who’ll be there in times of need, who’ll go out of their way to help each other. They believe TOO much that the ocean is the ONLY way to go, the RIGHTEST way of all, then it shows every now and then in their words and their actions. Unintentionally they would see me as a lesser being than them (although I’m 100% sure they would deny it if asked, but seeing me as a lost person shows it enough). My opinion wouldn’t matter, cause it’s a ‘gay opinion’. Every time I make a mistake, it will come down to my being gay, not to me being a person. Any misfortune I encounter would be brushed with, “I feel for you, but it might be God’s way of telling you to go back to the right path.” I don’t even know ‘how’ a person can ‘turn straight’. By sleeping with opposite sex? Still gay! And adding to the sin for sleeping with someone they don’t even love. By saying, “I’m straight!”? Even easier, still gay though. By going celibate? Big news: still gay! The only way to go would be death – which is a path chosen by lots and lots of gay teens, and those peace-loving, family-oriented, never-stray-from-the-right-way people only said, “Good riddance!” Yeah, easy for you to say, monsters!

There’s been a huge misconceptions about gays for years, thanks for nothing, Sodom and Gomorrah (ask a gay person who’s on their right mind, if they would destroy those cities if they could, I bet they’ll answer yes. Why? Cause the evilness of the cities has nothing to do with their being gay!). Ask Indonesian audiences in this day and age about being gay, and I bet the answer would be around, “It’s the source of AIDS!” “It’s evil!” “It’s a disease!” “It’s a sin!” Answer that in front of Holland audiences and you’ll get a laugh. In Indonesia, where an atheist faces persecution, a man who wore a T-shirt with smart quotation could get beaten up on the streets, and religious wars erupted easily, who would dare to come out individually and clearly? Therefore people have no face to relate to, they have no example of a gay person. It also never affects them directly, so they never bother to find out the truth anyway. For them it’s an absolute alien, and they easily believe everything they heard about gays.

From my experience, I would like to offer an advice to you, friends and families who have someone come out to you: it’s okay if you can’t accept it in a blink. It’s okay if deep in your heart you want them to change. It’s okay if you cut all contacts with them or keep a distance from them – although it hurts at first, time will heal. Ignore them all you want, just don’t bully them with words or violence. Don’t pretend to accept them and then telling them how being gay is wrong and try to convert them. Chances are that by the time they come out to you, they’ve done everything they possibly can. For parents: don’t send your kids to religious school or camp or anything that promises they can change your kids back to ‘normal’. It’ll never make your kids ‘normal’, it’ll only make their life a living hell so that they’d rather crawl back to their closets. A shrink consultation is fine, but choose wisely. The well-educated ones should know that homosexuality is not a disease. Best thing you could possibly do is to ask lots of questions, and LISTEN carefully. No matter how good an intention you have, when you close your ears, that ends all possibility to understand anything.

My life has never been and will never be focused on me being gay. But being gay sure affect lots of things in my life. I’m much more sensitive to discrimination and bullying, intentionally or not. I’ve faced those all my life, and my being gay only tripled that. My only weapon is my logic, but since when do religious people have logic? They even rarely have human hearts. (I sincerely bow down in admiration to those few who are religious, logical, and kind at the same time. That was a total feat, cause usually those who are kind and logical lost their faith in return.) That said, the only friends I would keep are not only those who fully approved of me being gay, but also those who care for me enough not to let that tiny bit becomes an obstacle – and this group could easily be spotted by their willingness to listen and learn. Otherwise they’ll forever be those who mean well but will forever hurt you with actions and words. They will never be happy for you when you’ve found someone. They won’t show up at your wedding or even worse: they’ll say something bad AT your wedding that will totally ruin your mood (i.e.: “I’m happy for you, but I will pray that God will lead you and your friend to the right way in His own time.”). They will be happy if your spouse left you with person of the opposite sex (“I’m sorry to hear that, but good for her, she’s been saved. Will you be next?”). So, well, yes I’m saddened, but for my own future I’d rather be the ‘stupid’ one and keep my distance from them (cause they still insist they accept me, and it means it’s me who doesn’t want to be accepted). Goodbye for now, then.