Homosexual friends: Let’s fight the hypocrisy

Source: Straits Times
1 October 2007

Homosexual friends: Let’s fight the hypocrisy

By Tessa Wong

While working on last week’s story about youth attitudes towards homosexuality, I found myself thinking about the time I went through a sea change in my own perceptions about this issue.

Until I entered university, I had always fancied myself as someone who could strike an adequate balance between reason and matters of faith.

But it wasn’t until I made my first gay friend, Mark, that I realised the unbridgeable gap between the two.

Mark and I met and clicked on the first day of class at university in England when I was 19. What with me being a typically sheltered Singaporean youth – my previous experience with homosexual issues was limited to gossiping about the resident lesbian couple at junior college – I found Mark’s sexual orientation fascinating.

It was a novel experience hanging out with him, just as I would with any other girlfriend, chatting all day about guys and Christina Aguilera’s latest fashion disaster.

But as our friendship deepened and the novelty wore off, Mark shared with me the constant struggles he faced to be accepted as a gay person, not only with his devoutly religious family, but also in society in general.

As I began to see him more as a person rather than just ‘the gay friend’, I also became aware that I had been ‘exoticising’ Mark. By deliberately preventing myself from seeing him as a regular person, I was not facing up to the fact that his homosexuality was something I was supposed to see as an abomination.

Having been brought up in a conservative background, I had always subscribed to the notion of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’. Gay people were all right, I thought, just as long as I didn’t have anything to do with their ‘wrong’ lifestyles.

But as Mark and I grew closer, I began to see how difficult it was putting that truism into practice.

Being gay wasn’t a detachable part of Mark’s identity. His sexual orientation was also embedded in every aspect of his life, from his relationships with his family to his outlook on life, to how he treated others.

So how could I as a friend truly love him for who he was, when I could not accept every single part of him?

At this point, I began to question what exactly was so wrong about homosexuality. From what I saw in Mark’s life, gay people were just like everyone else, and fully capable of holding stable, loving relationships, unlike what I had been taught previously.

After some soul searching, I realised that not only could I not accept the illogical flaws of that truism, but I also had to make a stand about what had become obviously clear to me – that homosexuality is not something intrinsically wrong.

I’m sure that a number of young people reading this are facing a similar dilemma when it comes to dealing with homosexual friends.

My advice? If you really want to love the ‘sinner’, don’t call it a sin. Otherwise, it would just be pure hypocrisy.

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