A (Wo)man in Distress: LGBT Communities and What To Do With It

In a particular occasion during college holiday, a good friend of mine recommended me a movie called “Prayers for Bobby.” It centers on a familial conflict between, among other things, Bobby, who finds out himself gay, and her religious mom. Being a seventeen-year-old teenager, Bobby lives his world as a maze of identity- and, yup!, sexuality-searching premise. As a normal heterosexual-oriented woman, his mother refuses the fact that his own son is “a companion of man”, and referring to it as an “illness.”

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“Prayers for Bobby” poster

As I was watching it, I cried during the half-end of the movie (not to be sexist, please!) In a scene where Bobby is so bewildered by the situation, knowing that he has a male lover now (finally!) and after playing hide-and-seek with his family concerning on his “illness”, he decides to jump off the bridge. Now that the mother is crushed, she finds a way to understand what it means to be “different.” By the end of the movie, she eventually accepts his son as he is, as a gay–a “man in distress.”

What’s The Deelio?

Just a few days ago, an article from TEMPO left me thinking, along with the headline: “LGBT communities in campuses are to be banned,” which you might have read as well. It felt so right on one side, but also so wrong on the other. It postulates that owing to the fact that Indonesia is an Eastern country and that it glorifies the norms of Islam as the majority’s religion, gay communities in campus are to be “wiped out of the map.” And a question arises: how should that be possible? These campus communities, several of which are mentioned in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Makassar, are allegedly rife and “hard to detect.” However, another source even states that same-sex couples in campuses are no longer embarrassed to engage in an intimate relationship in public. They hold hands, kiss, smooch, and, even, hug . Now, who’s to blame here?

During a discussion in TVoNE with a panel of a psychologist, an alim ulama, and an FTV celebrity, one of the speakers pinpoints that family plays a huge role in defining the child’s characteristics, including his own sexuality. How the child is raised, treated, and behaved contribute highly to the way he will perceive the world he is going to live in. All of them share a same belief that when a baby is born, the baby’s mind is blank “as a canvas”, or, as philosophy terms it, encounters “tabula rasa.” Another speaker of the panel emphasized that it is environment that creates his sexuality, especially that in school. Bullying, cyber-bullying, and its effects will potentially lead the child to doubt his self-esteem, and in a long term, his identity and in the end sexuality.

Well, going back to college students. They are far from home, and from their parents, and the only thing that surrounds them is their college friends, who come from different place, background, and parenting, which I think is the beauty of college life. You meet new people, choose several of them to be your company, and probably end up having none. No matter how individualistic one student would be, they have to blend, or the world shall end, so they say.

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“Homoseksual Bukan Penyakit Jiwa” (jakartapost)

What Do They Say?

Judith Butler in Gender Trouble asserts that sexuality, desire, femininity, and masculinity are all fluid. You might consider yourself straight probably because you are not gay, or at least, you think you are. But that is the way you like it. You can never really tell, can you? Butler continues that we can never be a hundred percent masculine, nor feminine. There is always part of ourselves that defies against our biological genetics or beginnings as we grow and let our perspectives be changed by “outer-body experiences”, such as books we read, movies we saw, or people we talked to. “It would be scary as hell if you’re too masculine or feminine,” a lecturer once said.

What is more, in a seminar that Julia Suryakusuma attended, as she shared on Jakarta Post‘s View Point section, one of the three speakers, Hendri Yulius, who is gay, stated that he is not aroused by looking at two men kissing, but at two women smooching. See how complicated that sounds? As to me, for example, I sometimes get aroused by a curvy-shaped woman but also by a well-shaped man. I am indeed so grateful that I do not end up like most of my male friends who have gone “out of the book” and stay there.

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In A Nutshell

What I am saying is that, first, I want to challenge the idea of such classification. We must not forget that, although Islam forbids homosexuality, all in all, as its essence, it also is a religion of love, compassion, and affection, which means that we must accept who we are, as we are given to be, a “perfect creature” (physically) among many other creatures. It should not necessarily close the door of chances of finding out who we love and who we don’t. Neither should it block us from escaping to the “script” that the society wants us to play out. And when such limit occurs, we shut down. We will say yes to everything, and that is not what it means to love.

Secondly, it might sound politically incorrect, but the problems of sexuality, in whatever scope it covers, may never be institutionalized by the government. If a man is gay and the public does not like that, there is no better way to “cure” him but a strong willing from the person being it. If it’s not lucky enough, the LGBTs might not want to be “cured” by going to a psychiatrist because going there means they’re “ill.” This makes them stay true to they are, as a gay, as a lesbian, and, above all, a human being.

As from the movie, not long after Bobby’s “jump accident”, his mother shares his heart out to the priest for which Bobby used to follow: “I know now why God didn’t heal Bobby. He didn’t heal him because there was nothing wrong with him.”

And that closes it, fellas!

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