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.


Chrys said...

Just read this. Very emotional writing, but don't you fret, you still have more friends!

Ryou said...

Yeah, thanks for reading. i know it'd be quite boring for you cause you've already known the story and this is a VERY long ranting. But then again, it only proves that I can still count on you anytime. Thanks a bunch, I couldn't ask for a better friend. :D