Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Homosexuals and The Idea of Abnormality

Once ago, my friend and me have a little chat about stuff—if not mistaken, we gossiping a hot Math teacher from Italy, and from where it began, we start talking about gay and LGBT.

The pinnacle of it was when my friend proudly declares the gay people is abnormal.

I just sit still, silent and stunned.

I should start somewhere. Here it is, for myself, to be abnormal is to be true to oneself. And it is a kind of freedom that I longingly seek and understand, that is to be true to yourself, to who you are.

It is a freedom to be able to against the flow. It is a freedom when we do not favor the external to validate ourselves. To do this, first, we have to be abnormal, in the eye of the many.

Anyway, I don’t mean to philosophize anything here. It is just a version of abnormality that I always think and perceived before, and luckily (no pun intended), that day comes when my friend bluntly declare homosexuality is abnormal straight onto my face.

And, I have to revisit my thought on abnormality.

I am OK with her stance, due to the respect of freedom of choice. That’s hers, not me, yet it's undeniably disturbing enough. No, I am not OK for what substance bringing out of her statement.

Up until the mid of the 20th century, homosexuality was perceived as an illness by the majority opinion of psychiatry, before that opinion was formally reversed in 1974 by the American Psychiatric Association.

By illness, it means homosexuality is distinguished as abnormal in society. It is, mentally abnormal, they say. My friend’s statement actually seems fit enough to live up society's expectation during those times.

Regrettably, up until our time now, those kind of nuance, nonetheless live just fine today. People—large part of them, still influenced and predominantly by false beliefs and unjustified prejudices concerning homosexuality, or same-sex love.

Those beliefs and prejudices are driving the society at large to the closet mentality. One is obviously among those homosexuals itself and another prime fragment is the society itself suffers closet mentality.

Vito Russo in the introduction of his book The Celluloid Closet discussed about the closet mentality have been affected not just the homosexuals, but a very large part of the society itself. The context of his discussion is about the homosexuality in the Hollywood movies, largely.

From my understanding, the closet mentality among society is concerning the syndrome of denial—to reject the very idea of homosexuals is a part of themselves, refuse to accept the existence of homosexuals, and to censors anything homosexual.

In Malaysia, we observe this mentality apparently applauded by many. The denial lead to the wrong belief of homosexuality are sinful and immoral.

Paradoxically, I find the dialogue between Crassius and his young slave Antoninus in Spartacus, Stanley Kubrick's film in 1960 are amusing, yet enlightening (since Vito Russo using this screenplay to exemplify homosexual censorship in Hollywood movies).

“Do you eat oysters?”
“Yes.”
“Snails?”
“No.”
“Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?”
“No, master.”
“Of course not. It's all a matter of taste, isn't it?”
“Yes, master.”
“And taste is not the same as appetite and therefore not a question of morals, is it?”
“It could be argued so, master.”
“Um, that'll do. My robe, Antoninus. Ah, my taste... includes both oysters and snails.”

The dialogue frankly, bringing forward how twisted the way our society perceived the idea of sexuality, when the denial plays a role in large part of society fabric. It shows to us how binary our vision is when it comes to the reality of sexuality discourse.

It is, as if, one thing existed and the other similar thing, even though obviously existed too, were denied. As Muhammad Ali once says, “I am the part you won't recognize,” I couldn’t agree more.

In general, we can safely presume the nuance of abnormality that society embraces towards homosexuality legally and morally approved atrocities towards homosexuals—hatred, fears, exposed as outlaws, penalized and oppressed in many ways unimaginable throughout the history.

Despite 2000 years before, it may the great minds in ancient Greeks already discussed justice and goodness among human being, never for once, we could rely on that to understand why people still acting barbaric and hostile towards homosexuals.

For that reason too, it explained why the similar disgrace and hostility also experienced by the Black Americans when they fight for their civil rights, or the Jews during the Nazi era, or the Muslims live in Islamophobia atmosphere.

It is the idea of abnormality, I observe here, as the catalyst to steer the society convictions to the wrong side. Mandela in his Long Walk to Freedom depict how disgusted the Whites towards the Natives, even to answer the questions in the courtroom.

How the Whites feel disgusted towards the Natives, I believe it is only a symptom. The bigger picture that patron all those hostilities is the idea of abnormality, for the Natives towards the Whites.

Therefore, it is justified and importance to bring forward this discussion in the public sphere and challenge the status quo of heterosexuality in the way our society comprehend the idea of sexuality.

There are, no more the era of the heterosexual is perceived as normal and homosexual is perceived as abnormal.

Quoting Magnus Hirschfeld, when he introduced the first showing of the Anders als die Anderen (Different from the Others) film in 1919,

“The matter to be put before your eyes and soul today is one of severe importance and difficulty. Difficult, because the degree of ignorance and prejudice to be disposed of is extremely high. Important, because we must free not only these people from undeserved disgrace, but also the public from a judicial error that can be compared to such atrocities in history as the persecution of witches, atheists and heretics.”