In my previous post I promise to give a commentary on Christine Bersola’s article at Philippine Star’s Parentin Talk entitled “Being Gay” having Clinical Psychologist Dr. Camille Garcia on the footnote. It can be noted that both the author and her resource person received backlash from the LGBT community, Psychology body and from those who are practicing related field of discipline. And even ordinary person like me.
Personally I do not feel that this is a particular issue that will impact the Philippines so much like a raise of credit rating to AAA but it is important that we will understand such issues that stirred public concern and interest. Especially coming from people we understood as authorities in certain field of discipline – in this case clinical psychology. Simply because you do not want to be swayed into believing an idea that is based on a predisposition that it was said by so called “expert’s opinion” and not the truth. The attempt to explain it is admirable but it is the truth that we truly needs.
The article started with multiple questions and from there the entire discussion progress. My commentary starts after each and every Dr. Camille’s response.
Let me add a bit of personal disclaimer here. This is an incredibly complicated topic, one in which emotion and socio-politics play a very important role. Personally, I do not know how this will play out, but I’m certain that not everyone is gifted with readiness and unparalleled intellects to understand or even listen to this topic.
- What are the early signs? I’ve read that when a two- or three-year-old plays with girl’s toys, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is gay since that is just the “curiosity phase.” Is this true? At what age will the signs of true “gayness” come out?
Dr. Camille: “Others may say that doing something effeminate is already a sign of gayness like playing with female toys, being effeminate in some ways, etc. Remember the child, at this age, does not know the girl-boy gender yet. It’s up to the parents to make the child be aware of his/her gender: ‘Ikaw ay babae, siya ay lalaki.’
“True gayness comes out at pubertal stage. (It is when the child desires or has a crush on the same sex.) What is wrong with some parents is encouraging the behavior. It’s like when a parent says, ‘Kung ano ang binigay sa amin ng Diyos tatanggapin namin.’
First, let me borrow the term she used “gayness” to refer to homosexuals. I’d like to say that Dr. Camille is right. It is responsible parenthood to inform the child of his gender. And it is also the role of the parents to see to it that the child understands his sexuality – in case of confusion and identity matching. Usually this happens as early as 3 years old up to early adolescence stage. But to say that true gayness comes out pubertal stage, I think this is her hunch more than an expert opinion. Why? Because there is no such thing as true gayness as there is no such thing as false gayness. The problem really starts from labeling it in an attempt to explain it better. But you see, by labeling it, it only created more confusion. If you’re gay then you’re gay, if you’re not then you’re straight. There is no such thing as in between line for the main reason that gayness is already the line that draws the difference between the male and the female gender.
Gayness is irrespective of your life stage. It does not consider whether you are in your early childhood, adolescence, and puberty or adulthood stage. This is because one’s awakening is unique. You may have lived as a man for many years yet when you reached 45 you realized that you’re gay.
- Should parents be alarmed and arrest the situation? Or encourage it?
Dr. Camille: “Arrest the situation, ’yun ang tama. But most parents encourage the situation. Tatanggapin agad. Let’s be moral in making the child understand the situation, di ba yun ang dapat. We tell our child, ‘Anak, mali ito.’”
Another personal disclaimer needed here, I am not yet a parent so I am no position to coach other parents. But if I am a parent right now, I’d definitely agree with her that first thing parents should do is to arrest the situation … but with a very big BUT, it should be treated with caution. Dr. Camille said, “Let’s be moral in making the child understand the situation, di ba yun ang dapat. We tell our child, ‘Anak, mali ito.’
Why mali (wrong)? That’s the big issue. Isn’t that morality was set only by humans and society? A lot of the parents arrest this situation by extending morality to biblical lengths. That God would hate children if they are gay. As if these kids have the choice. Verily, this is the main reason why our gays are apprehensive in going to church when in fact the church is not made for the righteous. The very institution where they should feel most safe loved and accepted. Because they were already judged by erroneous parenting. Please do not let your children become a victim of our unfair societal standards.
What on earth am I saying? My point is, it is not enough to tell the child that it is wrong. As a parent, you have to explain, discuss to a child the reason why it is wrong. However, you do not discuss to a child that something is wrong with his personality. Not all parents are competent and equipped with the right skill to tackle such sensitive child-rearing issues. When you force to do that you will only cause the child to question his inner being and doubt his self-worth.
What you should do instead is to assure him of your love. Love is infallible. It has no mistakes, for the mistakes of love are the wants of it.
- How should the parents address this? Some parents resort to threat and extreme military-style punishment. Some parents go to great lengths to explain to the child the consequences of being gay, so that the child can think, then make a choice.
Dr. Camille: “Threat and punishment encourage the child more to do things wrongly, because you are shutting off the situation. Make sure you discuss with your child openly. ‘Alam mo anak, hindi namin gusto yung ginugusto mo.’
“Explain that he is a boy and therefore, as boys, they grow up as men and their partners are women. ‘Hindi kasi tama ang makasama sa buhay at magpapamilya ay parehas na lalaki. Kung ayaw mo itama ang ginugusto mo, hindi namin matatanggap yun.’
“Things can be discussed fully. At least you have attempted to talk it out with your child, explaining the moral and complex implication of what he likes. Remember you can have effeminate ways, but you never desire men. Yun yung emphasis ng pagtuturo sa bata. After pubertal stage, it’s a different story.”
Let me say that threat and military style punishment is the most shameful act of discipline. Yes it is discipline but it is based on violence and physical aggression- definitely not of LOVE. Punishment breeds fear but love breeds respect.
I don’t know with you but to say, “‘Alam mo anak, hindi namin gusto yung ginugusto mo.’ Sounds more of telling them, “Anak magbago ka dahil kung hindi ay hindi ka namin magugustuhan.”
The moral foundation of the child is still very young to understand the complexity of the right and wrong concept. You do not infuse your concept of wrong to the child. That will be a deliberate intrusion to the child’s free moral values formation.
You say, Oh! Wait a minute, isn’t it my right as a parent to guide my children? The answer is YES. But you have to be careful not to impose your own moral conviction towards the young mind because not all parents can even guarantee the uprightness of their own moral beliefs. What you should do is to discuss with them the reason why it is wrong but leave enough room of liberty for him to discern upon himself whether you are right indeed or not. Over time the child will realize that. That will make them respect you even more.
- Why is being gay still considered a shame for conservative families, even now that we are living in modern times that gays are accepted in our society? Gays (both male and female) are contributing well to our society, in different professional fields.
Dr. Camille: “Most families still cannot accept the fact that something went wrong with their parenting. They feel that something is not right — moral issues are always part of the issues, especially to the Christian and close family ties. “Traditions and culture as well are still part of the family structure that greatly influences their views regarding homosexuality.
“Remember, since child rearing and proper parenting are part of one’s holistic disposition, the lifestyle and preference he will choose is considered to be part of what a parent has nurtured and instilled in him.”
There is no worse of a feeling than to feel unapproved in your own household. A home is where a child should feel the very first love, respect and acceptance. If the parents impose to their gay child to change against their own volition it will only result to rebellion. The child will only struggle to satisfy his parents leaving a long travail of sadness and despair all in the pursuit of getting parent’s approval. Gayness should not be treated as a behavioral problem that with discipline, one can change; simply because “gayness” is not a behavioral problem in the first place. It is an identity. End of story.
- Is being gay really a lifestyle choice? Or genetically influenced?
Dr. Camille: “The genetic predisposition is there but if from the start it is corrected, maiaayos. Remember, genetic predisposition. Hindi minana, na at the start bakla siya. Ipinanganak siyang lalaki o babae. Ikaw na magulang ang mag aayos at magtuturo. Thus, the lifestyle and preference become prevalent rather than the genetic factors. This is the most Christian and appropriate explanation I can give.”
Though I could not contend that genetics and choice are some intervening factors why a guy or a gal becomes gay, to reduce it into two – the Nature and Nurture is still shortcoming. Because I believe this is more multifarious than what we understand. Many became gays because of child abuse, incest etcetera. It is just complicated, therefore to explain it by virtue of “expert opinions” and not of established research is misleading. If above is Dr. Camille’s most Christian explanation, could there be any unchristian explanation? What’s more accurate then?
Towards the end of the article Christine Bersola proudly gave an example as to why her baby boy will never have a tendency of becoming gay;
As a mom who has a three-year-old son named Nio, my personal take on the matter is this: Nio, when curious, plays with his big sister’s toys. But we always point it out to him that those are toys for girls, and these are toys for boys. We compare toys so that he will understand.
Apart from toys, he chooses what clothes and shoes to wear, and his choices are very masculine. I think the presence of a dominant male figure in our home, that is Julius my husband, is a great factor why Nio is very much male. They play rough games such as boxing, kiddie baseball, sword fights, wrestling and the like. I think that activities such as these will help establish the child’s gender role.
I find this analogy rather amusing and poor. Let me give you an example, I have known a friend who during our childhood was so keen about karate and shako. His father enrolled him to karate classes. He could even beat me and any boys in the class. His enthusiasm remained until he became a Palarong Pambansa Taekwondo Champion in High School and PRISAA Taekwondo Champion in college. He is gay. And he said that he loves his make-up as much as he loves Taekwondo. I am sure you know many stories like this. Hence, one’s choice of toys or preference in physical activities is never a guarantee of someone’s gender orientation.
Gays are probably the most creative, versatile, adaptive, humorous, talented, articulate, prolific, and special people I know. They possess both the empathy of a mother and the protective arms of a father. Gays like any beautiful creatures of God deserves our respect. If you say gays are sinners, well God loves the sinner. It is sin that He hates. If you say that it is just the same, think again! It is our job to love and leave judging to God.
I would like to make a radical statement. I do not believe that the psychology taught in the academe is enough to explain the complexities and diversity of man’s personality, behavior or traits. What I believe is this; that up to this very age, we are still in a journey of knowing ourselves – because if we truly understood ourselves, we would have known better. We would have not judged someone’s ethnicity, gender and moral convictions. We would not have biases on ideas that favor popular concepts as set by moralist, religion or leaders. We would have been more tolerant in accepting individual differences on account of true acceptance by completely understanding each other. I do not think if we have truly comprehended that.
No one is an expert of one particular gender unless he/she is of that gender. To say otherwise means he/she has lived a life of that gender. And to insist about it by way of established research does not make anyone even an expert. In other words, only gays can passionately understand and discuss the how and what of being gay. Period.
Please tell me what you think. Leave a comment below.