A cold, hard look at homophobia

I’m a scientist by training and as such, generally avoid public debate, which tends to be dominated by charisma rather than fact. Nevertheless, given the strongly homophobic atmosphere in Sri Lanka two weeks away from what Bill Clinton declared is gay-pride month (my embassy informs me that “Homosexual acts are illegal in Sri Lanka”), I thought it pertinent to share some inconvenient truths from the little-known, less-regarded realm of academic research. Make of them what you will.

1. We’re a lot gayer than we think

The two papers I’d like to share are both loosely to do with sexuality in Sri Lanka. The first is a study of sexual health in tea-plantation populations (Jayasekara et al, 2011) and the second is a detailed study of beach boys and the supposed endemic sexual exploitation of children (Miller, 2011). The aims of these two studies are divergent, focus on two distinct cultures (tea workers and beach boys) and set about proving two different points, but they present data that overlap to an appreciable degree.

Both studies found that among men, first sexual encounters occur as early as at age 12, and the vast majority of those interviewed have had gay sex at least once (86% of tea-estate men and 82% of ‘beach boys’). It seems that (at least) a single gay experience is, by definition, the norm amongst rural Sri Lankan men. The majority of Sri Lankan men are also, then, eligible for imprisonment. I find it intriguing then, that we’re so homophobic. Logically I see two options—we can lock up a substantial proportion of tea-estate workers or admit that the country’s homophobia-augmentation law is just slightly daft.

2. Our bigotry might not be where we expect it

Some unexpected findings of Miller (2011) are that (1) the tendency to conflate homosexuality and pedophilia is best reflected in the activities of child-protection NGOs, which happily lump pedophiles, perverts and homosexuals into a single “deviant” category; (2) Religious charities, too, often try to ‘rehabilitate’ former prostitutes and (sometimes happily married) men to ‘cure’ their deviant traits; and (3) Oftentimes it is sexual health charities trying to lower the incidence of HIV that perpetuate the myths that homosexuality leads to AIDS, and that “if you have AIDS it’s entirely your fault”.

It seems though, that while rural Sri Lanka is happy and gay (pun absolutely intended), it is we urban folk who enjoy sitting at home and basking in our self-righteous bigotry. There really is a wealth of (sometimes rather frightening) information in Miller’s (2011) paper that I couldn’t hope to summarise. I can only encourage my readers to find it themselves.

3. We’re here, we’re queer, and you wouldn’t have guessed it, would you?

As far as I’m aware, I haven’t even a gay friend. I mean I might have—I just haven’t bothered to quiz them all on their sexuality. In fact, I worry about the relative extravagance of the approach of gay activism. The received wisdom seems to be that the way forward at gay-pride rallies is to make as profligate a display as possible about sexuality. Given the choice between the Stephen Fry and Gok Wan models of public perception, it seems to me that gay rallies have chosen the latter. I cannot identify with this.

The problem with the public perception of homosexuality is that in it, gay people are in some way “different”, deviations from the norm. The metaphorical schoolyard bully refers to gay people as poofs, queer, camp, fags, fairies, pixies and a litany of other pejoratives. A question I must ask: is dressing up is assless chaps, leather tights, balls and chains, fairy costumes and thongs before dancing on the street in a shower of glitter… is this helping the schoolyard bully’s case or not? Is this aiding the perception that gay people are “different” or not? In fact, what exactly does it do to further the cause? I don’t have an answer to that last question, which is why I ask it.

Here’s one strategy. Given that at a gay-pride rally the public expects a spectacle of weird, wonderful and rather confronting things, a powerful statement would be made if the next gay-pride rally consisted entirely of participants wearing what they wore to work yesterday. “But how would people know what the rally is even about?” I’m often asked. Exactly. We ought to stop thinking about gay people as glitter bugs and start thinking about them as doctors, engineers, coal miners, hairdressers, politicians, teachers, police officers, pilots, waiters, soldiers and people of every other occupation.

There’s an important distinction between being comfortable with ones sexuality and being overt about it. Most people, heterosexual or not, are uncomfortable with overt sexuality for the same reasons they don’t want their children watching pornography or teenage girls getting boob jobs. Parents ought to be able to look at every participant in a gay pride rally and think to themselves, “I’d quite like that man/woman to be my child’s babysitter, school teacher, gym instructor or cub-scout leader. (S)he’s just like me.”

  • theja

    Knowing hat one Member of Parliament has admitted to his sexual orientation I believe we Sri Lankans are not all that bothered about homosexuality among the people. Of course I can think of more mothers who would be horrified of their sons/daughters being homosexual. I can think of worse situations they could be in. Maybe it is mostly the fear of Aids and not the sexuality itself, that parents would be concerned about. Yet, our people are laid back and relaxed about most things. They only get worked up about Cricket matches.

  • rice pudding

    “I’d quite like that man/woman to be my child’s babysitter, school teacher, gym instructor or cub-scout leader. (S)he’s just like me.”

    He’s/she’s just like me – i.e heterosexual? Thats the whole point. Why do you imply that gay people need to conform and dress like other straight people just to be “accepted”. It is not acceptance that gay people want – it is appreciation. Acceptance implies that there is something wrong and needs to be tolerated. (Btw, I am gay and very tolerant of straight people, well most of them at least!) Dressing up at a pride march is expressing individuality, the difference and diversity of people. and that is what is being celebrated. We try to fit in everyday and sometime its just too bloody tiring!

    PS: It might help to make a few more gay friends!.

  • http://tharindu.me/blog Tharindu

    it seems like you are hoping for a hetrosexual version of homosexuals. sorry not gonna happen. your post reminded me an speech in a TV series. a character named Michael gives a speech to media after a bomb blast in a gay fundraiser.

    “Sure, in a lot of ways, I am just like you. I wanna be happy, I want some security, a little extra money in my pocket, but in many ways, my life is nothing like yours. Why should it be? Do we all have to have the same lives to have the same rights? I thought that diversity was what this country was all about. In the gay community, we have drag queens, leather daddies, trannies, and couples with children – every color of the rainbow. My mother’s standing way in the back with some friends. My friends. She once told me that people are like snowflakes; every one special and unique… and in the morning you have to shovel ‘em off the driveway. But being different is what makes us all the same. It’s what makes us family.”

    let me highlight the most important fact here… “Do we all have to have the same lives to have the same rights? “

    • Rojr

      Re. “it seems like you are hoping for a hetrosexual version of homosexuals”.

      Not really. Firstly, a heterosexual version of a homosexual is a contradiction and cannot exist. Well, not according to the web definition (Google>define:homosexual) of a homosexual, which is “a person sexually attracted to people of their own sex.”

      I couldn’t find a definition that specifies a dress code but feel free to define one if it makes your argument any stronger.

      You seem to be suggesting that the defining factor of homosexuality is extravagant dress. That must necessarily mean that what defines heterosexuality is normative dress. Which is clearly not true.

      In fact, all you’ve really done is tell us what in *your* mind, *your* perception of homosexuality is.

      And no, we needn’t all live the same lives to have the same rights. Why would you suggest such a thing?

  • Bongsy

    There’s nothing wrong with gay people. Although I cringe when I see transexuals, because that is just pure deception. Apart from that, I guess transsexuality is also ok, as long as it is not hidden. It wouldn’t be fair otherwise. What if heterosexuals pretended to be gay? Would gay people like it? Or a woman dresses up like a man and goes out with a gay guy without telling him who she really is. Not fair.

    Also, this theory might not apply to those who are still understanding their sexuality. There should be some leg room for that, so young people who are only finding out they are gay should not be persecuted.

  • Nikhil

    This is a very sensitive topic in Sri Lanka, and no doubt it would make quite a few people quite uncomfortable. But I do think that Sri Lanka needs to address the issue of homosexuality and homophobia and the sooner it does so, the better. I think we have a more literate and relatively more liberal society than many other South Asian countries and so should be able to discuss this issue without too much emotion… or is that asking for too much?

    Groundviews, I do hope you can publish the following video which I think *ALL* Sri Lankans should watch regardless of their ethnicity/religion because the topic is universal, and it is a great talk! Would any Sri Lankan TV stations be game to broadcast it?

    “This talk is about the Buddhist view on gay marriages, and how this moral decision is based on the teaching of traditional Buddhism dating back to the time of the Buddha.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOPcbFhCEj0

    • manuri-toronto

      After listening to Ven.Ajahan..I couldnt but help commenting

      it is true…it is not about Gay or been straight…what matters

      it is how you relate to life…what relationship you have towards life and how you take it in stride….

      indeed very fullfilling listen to as always

  • http://blogsmw.wordpress.com/ Subha Wijesiriwardena

    Gay Pride activities are a celebration. We all celebrate different things in our lives: and we do so joyfully and exuberantly. I think it might be borderline homophobic to suggest that ‘dressing up’ for Gay Pride only strengthens the homophobe’s attitude that ‘Gays are different’. If you are gay, you ARE different to the majority of people around you – so what? It shouldn’t be repressed or denied, but acknowledged, even celebrated. Your argument is somewhat the same as Mahinda Rajapakse’s argument for ‘the integration’ of Tamil civilians into Sri Lanka (i.e Sinhalese) society. ‘Why can’t they just look like us and talk like us and do what we do and then we’d all be happy!’

    Gay Pride is an opportunity to celebrate the fact that being Gay is different and being Gay is fine and even wonderful. Of course most Gay people wear ‘normal’ clothes to work and don’t spend their average day in flamboyant clothing doing flamboyant things. But that’s why Gay Pride is an occasion: it’s once a year that you’re allowed to act silly and have fun and say it out loud and proud. Of course, some Gay people go there entire lives never subscribing to flamboyancy (like your example of Stephen Fry) and being fairly ‘normal’ by all standards. These are all personal choices. And they must all be accepted. If people wish to be overt, so be it. There are overt heterosexuals! Why not overt homosexuals?

    And to suggest that they tone it down to aid their own cause, that they dress like everyone else, act like everyone else to PROVE that they are just like everyone else – is narrow-minded and simplistic. What Gay Pride attempts to do is to make the world accept and embrace it for exactly what it is – not accept some ‘safe’ version of it that does not offend them or make them uncomfortable.

    • Bongsy

      What is an overt heterosexual? Not arguing here, just wondering what that is.

    • Rojr

      Subha I see where you’re coming from, but I think you misunderstand my intentions.

      I wrote what I did under the assumption that what any minority wants is social acceptance and legal equality. As such, from a strategic standpoint, gay-pride rallies are homosexuality’s most prominent public faces and marketing tools. What happens at gay pride does a lot to define the public perception of homosexuality and gays. By marketing gay pride as an occasion for overt sexual flamboyancy, this becomes the face of homosexuality for anyone who doesn’t know better.

      So why should anyone bother with people who don’t know better? Because they’re the only ones left to convince. Anyone with your point of view, who understands and appreciates your comment, has long transcended homophobia. The only homophobes left are those who don’t understand that, as you say, gay people wear normal clothes to work and don’t spend their average day in flamboyant clothing doing flamboyant things, and really ARE normal people who just have different bedroom habits*. And as such, demonising them is stupid.

      So yes, gay pride is a celebration, and everyone loves to have a giggle, but I don’t think that in its current form, it furthers the cause in any way. I think the overt-sexual-flamboyancy strategy has reached its asymptote in effectiveness. And given that there is still homophobia in society, its clear that some people simply cannot identify with this strategy. Would it really be harmful to try something that we know *everyone* can identify with? That everyone, irrespective of age, religion, race or conservative-upbringing can march with?

      *Of course, some more flamboyant than others.

  • anbu

    Hello

    Interesting. thanks for the Budhist content. here is a Hindu website related to LGBTIQ topics.www.galva108.org.
    Reading Budhism and various Hindu schools of thought and societies in the pre-European colonisation past it wasnt such a problem in SOuth Asia. The so called Budhist nationalists( in SL) and Hindu nationalists(in India) have essentially internalised European Christian morals( which the west has long abandoned) and now projecting as our traditions. How sad

  • jeers

    Surely, you’re well-intended. But unfortunately you’re also poorly-premised and poorly-argued. Your post is, also, harmful — ironically because it defeats it’s own intended paradigm shift.

    Let me start by saying that, yes, I am gay, too. And, while the question of whether I am effeminate or not is beyond my personal judgement (and fairly so), I am definitely certain that my wardrobe habits are (quite markedly) muted. But having said that, I must point out that your argument is morally invalid.

    The trajectory of your argument either assumes that the “eccentricity” of some gay people is an adopted gimmick, or even if it wasn’t, the value of “the cause” justifies dropping out the “gimmickers” for the sake of painting “the right kind” of image of the gay world. Now, I admit, that it feels counter-intuitive (to me, and possibly to you, too) that a person is born with an intrinsic affinity to leather thongs or Spandex pants or a combination of both. To be frank, I would rather assume that they are not. Instead, I think the reason some people (or some “gay” people) opt for that type of clothing/persona is to defy the conventions that set standards of how they should be, and live their lives, within the wider society. Because (a) they were never, and perhaps will never be, able to live up to them, and/or (b) because they truly do not want to live up to them. And this defiance, while a little violent as far as changing perceptions goes, is important, at some point: because it rejects, as a matter of routine lifestyle, society’s hold on that individual’s autonomy. And in this importance alone do you find the explanation to why gay parades the world over have a proclivity to be “a little” (help-yourself-to-a-pinch-of-salt) eccentric. The idea is not to “paint a picture” of the gay world — that, as an enterprise, would be too large a task even for the most fabulous of homos — but, instead, to make a statement to the world that what was once decreed deviant, deplorable and shameful has, now, got out on to the streets and rejected the bars that society had placed on them. This is why gay pride parades are, while essentially being a gay-centric event, also an event (a celebration, really) of sexual liberation in general.

    Now, if I am to agree with you on one thing (albeit, perhaps, circuitously), it’s on the question of what gay parades should be doing in Sri Lanka. In the Western world, when gay parades really started, they simply added drastic momentum to a societal revolution in sexual liberation that was ALREADY TAKING PLACE. In Sri Lanka, I don’t think we have that sort of revolution happening; the elements against such a societal shift, here, are far too powerful — both culturally, as well as politically. So, instead, in Sri Lanka, our gay pride parades should take on the task of (as you have suggested) normalising the gay individual (the exact opposite of the original, Western gay pride parade’s intention). We can’t think of establishing to the people of this country that we’re capable of a politically- and/or civilly-independent existence, like the Western paraders did in their early days. What we can do is impress on them just how much integrated we are in the fabric of their lives, that to fear us or hate us is simply illogical. For that purpose, and that purpose alone, bring out the gay doctors, the gay engineers, the gay bus conductors, and the gay priests.

    Having said that, I would abhor the idea of dropping out the transvestites, the leather daddies et clan from the parade, because they, too, are a part of our community; and we would be (a) rejecting their place in our world if we dropped them. This is immoral because our world is the only place some of these people have, the only place where they belong. We’d be undoing a significant part of their self-discovery if we, too, like the rest of the world had done previously, reject them on account of their differences. We would also be (b) immorally misrepresenting our world to the heteros, if we shut out a significant part of a our community. And practically speaking, what credibility would any gay parade have if it didn’t include the gay world’s most visible denizens?

    Let me emphasise, though, that when I said earlier that we should be “normalising the gay individual”, I did NOT mean advising the Spandex-clad fairy (not pejorative in my opinion) against his wardrobe choices. I meant, instead, the naturalisation of our existence in society; make people aware that just about anyone could be gay: from their boss, their driver, their family doctor to, yes, even their husband.

    Finally, if you want to shift the current paradigm of “hetero-normativeness” in Sri Lanka, how it should be done is by defeating it, not by artificially integrating the homosexual world into the parameters of the said hetero-normativeness.

    There are other criticisms I have against your conclusions, mainly the first one, but those are peripheral, and I do not want to cause a digression, because I think this conversation, even if it only happens here, is important. With that, I thank you for your contribution to starting it.

    • Rojr

      Jeers, I’m confused by the extent to which you agree with me.

      “Now, if I am to agree with you on one thing (albeit, perhaps, circuitously), it’s on the question of what gay parades should be doing in Sri Lanka. In the Western world, when gay parades really started, they simply added drastic momentum to a societal revolution in sexual liberation that was ALREADY TAKING PLACE. In Sri Lanka, I don’t think we have that sort of revolution happening; the elements against such a societal shift, here, are far too powerful — both culturally, as well as politically. So, instead, in Sri Lanka, our gay pride parades should take on the task of (as you have suggested) normalising the gay individual (the exact opposite of the original, Western gay pride parade’s intention).”

      Exactly. And I’d add the clarification that normalising, in this sense, means a change in perception on behalf of the observer, not a change in behaviour on behalf of the gay individual.

      “We can’t think of establishing to the people of this country that we’re capable of a politically- and/or civilly-independent existence, like the Western paraders did in their early days.”

      What do you mean when you say a “politically- and/or civilly-independent existence”? As far as I’m aware, in most civilised societies, gay are as much a component of society as left-handed people. Its not like they want a separate state or separate set of legal rights… its that they want the same. Or have I got it all wrong?

      “What we can do is impress on them just how much integrated we are in the fabric of their lives, that to fear us or hate us is simply illogical. For that purpose, and that purpose alone, bring out the gay doctors, the gay engineers, the gay bus conductors, and the gay priests.”

      Exactly. Why is this suggestion harmful?

      “Having said that, I would abhor the idea of dropping out the transvestites, the leather daddies et clan from the parade, because they, too, are a part of our community; and we would be (a) rejecting their place in our world if we dropped them. This is immoral because our world is the only place some of these people have, the only place where they belong. We’d be undoing a significant part of their self-discovery if we, too, like the rest of the world had done previously, reject them on account of their differences. We would also be (b) immorally misrepresenting our world to the heteros, if we shut out a significant part of a our community. And practically speaking, what credibility would any gay parade have if it didn’t include the gay world’s most visible denizens?”

      There’s an element of degree in my suggestion upon which I think you misunderstand me. I couldn’t find a diagram to make my point for me so I’ve drawn one up http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/6221/dresssense.jpg).

      With reference to the diagram, why the overemphasised difference between the two homosexual groups? The fact is that nearly all gay people (including leather daddies, transvestites, et al.) in even the most liberal societies get about their daily lives being whatever they are comfortable being. And except for the more backward elements of society, people accept this. All I’m suggesting is that gays dress for gay pride like they normally do—that it might not be the best idea to make a special effort to be confronting. So no, I’m not advocating that anybody exclude the transvestites and leather daddies—if they normally dress flamboyantly, they ought to go for it on gay pride day.

      “Let me emphasise, though, that when I said earlier that we should be “normalising the gay individual”, I did NOT mean advising the Spandex-clad fairy (not pejorative in my opinion) against his wardrobe choices. I meant, instead, the naturalisation of our existence in society; make people aware that just about anyone could be gay: from their boss, their driver, their family doctor to, yes, even their husband.”

      Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      “Finally, if you want to shift the current paradigm of “hetero-normativeness” in Sri Lanka, how it should be done is by defeating it, not by artificially integrating the homosexual world into the parameters of the said hetero-normativeness.”

      What exactly does defeating it entail? I hesitate to take a stance on that without understanding what you mean.

      “There are other criticisms I have against your conclusions, mainly the first one, but those are peripheral, and I do not want to cause a digression, because I think this conversation, even if it only happens here, is important. With that, I thank you for your contribution to starting it.”

      And I thank you for your contribution. I’m enjoying the discussion =)

  • Dr.Francesca Bremner

    Performativity is part of the process of fighting for equal rights. An exaggeration of an identity in order to destigmtize it, to own it and in some ways to bring it into discourse. It is sometimes a vital part of the fight for equality. It can be shocking, but it forces the onlooker to accept its existence, and that in itself is a vital victory to those who are on the margins.

    • Rojr

      Dr. Bremner,

      I disagree that it forces the onlooker to accept its existence. It does however, force the onlooker to react to its existence. I think its fair to be in two minds on whether that’s always a positive thing…

      • Dr.Francesca Bremner

        Dear Rojr,

        The oppressed group, by its performativity in public space does provoke a reaction, and this is what is positive since it opens a discoursive moment into bringing into the foreground what was once hushed and taboo.

      • Gamarala

        Yes, but it may unleash a discoursive moment ranging from a tête-à-tête over tea at the Galle face to a lynch mob in Maradana, so your mileage may vary. Try this in the middle-east for the most explosive results.

        Bottom-line: Rojr makes a good point. The intellectual state of the country needs to be taken into account when making a statement. I highly doubt that the majority of people will understand the nature of the statement that is being made – they will likely see this as some exercise in “western decadence and moral decay”, and not as an assertion of individuality and human rights.

  • radh

    thank you rogr for a greatly needed discussion that was put forward and jeers thank you because i now realize that the gay parades should be in the context of the country’s culture to be effective (cos i too am irked when i see the western gay parades, i now understand it is my due to my upbringing and personal tastes)

    also i think the homosexuality laws were from the british colonial times and i ones read in a local newspaper that they actually aren’t put to practice now a days (the accuracy of which i cannot guarantee), there was a call for a revocation of the law by the lankans, when they did so in india but i guess they didnt do it cos of political sensitivities.

    finally i would like to say that the goal of all discussions/arguments should be for all to come to a more enlightened state rather than just to foolishly defend our own beliefs

    great job guys!

    • Rojr

      Radh,

      Thanks for redirecting attention to the law about homosexuality. What I was hoping people would realise with my first two points is that the majority of men in this country have probably had gay sex at least once. As such, I think that fear of political sensitivities is more powerful an obstruction than than the putative sensitivities themselves.

      I don’t think rural (read: the majority of) Sri Lanka is nearly as homophobic as we assume. Next time the law comes up for discussion, I think the gay lobby should go for the jugular. Research indicates the people are on their side.

  • Rojr

    Jeers, I’m confused by the degree to which you’re agreeing with me.

    “Now, if I am to agree with you on one thing (albeit, perhaps, circuitously), it’s on the question of what gay parades should be doing in Sri Lanka. In the Western world, when gay parades really started, they simply added drastic momentum to a societal revolution in sexual liberation that was ALREADY TAKING PLACE. In Sri Lanka, I don’t think we have that sort of revolution happening; the elements against such a societal shift, here, are far too powerful — both culturally, as well as politically. So, instead, in Sri Lanka, our gay pride parades should take on the task of (as you have suggested) normalising the gay individual (the exact opposite of the original, Western gay pride parade’s intention).”

    I agree with everything thus far, and I’d like to add a clarification that ‘normalising’ the gay individual, involves a change in perspective for the observers, not a change in behaviour for the gay individual. You continued with…

    “We can’t think of establishing to the people of this country that we’re capable of a politically- and/or civilly-independent existence, like the Western paraders did in their early days.”

    I don’t understand this. What exactly do you mean by a politically or civilly independent existence? As far as I’m aware, in most civilised societies, gays are just as much a component of society as left-handed people.

    “What we can do is impress on them just how much integrated we are in the fabric of their lives, that to fear us or hate us is simply illogical. For that purpose, and that purpose alone, bring out the gay doctors, the gay engineers, the gay bus conductors, and the gay priests.”

    Exactly. So why is this harmful?

    Re. “Having said that, I would abhor the idea of dropping out the transvestites, the leather daddies et clan from the parade, because they, too, are a part of our community; and we would be (a) rejecting their place in our world if we dropped them. This is immoral because our world is the only place some of these people have, the only place where they belong. We’d be undoing a significant part of their self-discovery if we, too, like the rest of the world had done previously, reject them on account of their differences. We would also be (b) immorally misrepresenting our world to the heteros, if we shut out a significant part of a our community. And practically speaking, what credibility would any gay parade have if it didn’t include the gay world’s most visible denizens?”

    This is a question of degree upon which I think you’ve misunderstood me. I couldn’t find a diagram to make my point for me so I’ve drawn one up (http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/6221/dresssense.jpg):

    [URL=http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/155/dresssense.jpg/][IMG]http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/6221/dresssense.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    All homosexual people (including transvestites, leather daddies et al.) get about their daily lives perfectly well and for the most part, nobody is offended by them in the slightest. I’m not suggesting that gays adopt the dress curve of straights, I’m suggesting that gays (transvestites, leather daddies, everyone) adopt the dress code that they usually do. Presumably this isn’t overwhelmingly oppressive? It can’t be that the majority of gay people could never be happy unless it was accepted for them to wear leather tights and pink handcuffs to work every day, can it?

    “Let me emphasise, though, that when I said earlier that we should be “normalising the gay individual”, I did NOT mean advising the Spandex-clad fairy (not pejorative in my opinion) against his wardrobe choices. I meant, instead, the naturalisation of our existence in society; make people aware that just about anyone could be gay: from their boss, their driver, their family doctor to, yes, even their husband.”

    Once again, exactly. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    “Finally, if you want to shift the current paradigm of “hetero-normativeness” in Sri Lanka, how it should be done is by defeating it, not by artificially integrating the homosexual world into the parameters of the said hetero-normativeness.”

    What exactly does defeating it entail? I’d like to know what exactly you mean before I take a stance on this.

    “There are other criticisms I have against your conclusions, mainly the first one, but those are peripheral, and I do not want to cause a digression, because I think this conversation, even if it only happens here, is important. With that, I thank you for your contribution to starting it.”

    I don’t have conclusions, just a suggestion. But thanks for engaging and being civil. I’m really enjoying the discussion.

  • http://quitbeinggay.blogspot.com qbg

    Your theory on beach boys and tea workers is ridiculous. Plainly, people in these areas are poor and uneducated. Thus, it creates an environment conducive for abuse. There is no homosexuality in that sense. It is pure child abuse. Those children are sold for German foreigners and plantation owners. Childhood trauma, sexual abuse leads to homosexual tendencies in later life.

    Sexuality is complex. It is not possible to draw a straight line and demarcate a pedophile, homosexual, hetero and all whatnot. But there are many child abusers who consider themselves to be gay. In my opinion Pedophilia is also a sexual orientation. But we do not accept that to be conducive.

    If a person says that he/she doesn’t like homosexuality, they are labelled homophobic. That is not right! Gays try to point out societal homophobia as the root cause for the plethora of problems they are facing. Those issues are internal, it is fruitless to find solutions outside. If you know the scenario in gay friendly nations like Netherland, you will realize that the issues are still there.

    • Gamarala

      qbg,

      You’ve made a fair few bare assertions in your post, and it would be helpful to us readers if you can buttress your claims with some evidence.

      1. Firstly, just as a matter of clarification, did you make the claim that homosexuality would not exist without child abuse?

      2. Can you point to any study from a reputed source to support your claim that child sexual abuse leads to homosexuality?

      3. Can you explain what “scenario” you are referring to in gay-friendly Netherlands?

      4. Why should a person who opposes homosexuality not be labelled homophobic?

      Finally, I agree that Paedophilia is indeed a sexual orientation, which clearly, is in a different league to homo and hetero sexuality. I trust that it is self-evident as to why.

    • Rojr

      qbg,

      Firstly, this isn’t my theory, this is published data.

      Secondly, I’d encourage you to actually read the papers themselves before criticising them. The researchers were careful to separate consensual sex from rape, and the figures reported concern only the former.

      • http://quitbeinggay.blogspot.com quitbeinggay.blogspot.com

        Published data belongs to miller. Interpretation is of yours.

      • Rojr

        What interpretation?

        The data from both sources is that >80% of men sampled in both areas have had consensual gay sex.

        If you’d read Miller’s paper you’d know that.

        But by this time I suspect the argument that you ought to read something is not worth the candlelight by which its made.

  • Happy Heathen

    Few progressive reforms related to gender rights and animal rights put forward by successive Sri Lankan governments have been quickly shot down by religious minorities (especially Catholics and Muslims).
    The prevalent homophobia in Sri Lanka (and in most parts of the world for that matter) is directly related to Abrahamic religions’ insistence on the marriage being a ‘holy’ act between a man and a woman.

  • georgethebushpig

    Interesting discussion and the strategic aspect that Rojr argues makes sense to me however “carnival” was never conceived of as a celebration of the “normal” but it was an event that helped people subvert daily life. Gay pride day is the same isn’t it? I’ve never really heard any criticism of carnival in Rio, Trinidad, Mardi Gras etc. of being too flamboyant so why should Gay Pride Day be done any differently unless of course as a one-off event just to make a point. Thanks for the post.

  • Sohan

    Thank you for Rojr for making the effort to talk about homosexuality, when (as far as I know) you have no personal stake in it, except as a fellow human being. As a Sri Lankan gay man, while I see where you are coming from as a heterosexual person, I still have to disagree with you somewhat about the points you make.

    The greater point I wish to make though is about the very lack of visibility of gay people in this country, although if you were gay, you would realize how very gay this country really is, invisible as it is from the casual straight eyes. (and I am not talking about beach boys here, but about the ordinary middle class) The point however is moot to have a highly academic discussion about what Sri Lankan gay pride marches should be, when they actually do NOT exist.(except, as far I know, one was held a few years ago, with no worthwhile news media coverage and with relatively few attendants)As for public expectations, what public expectations about a thing that seemingly does not exist?

    There are a few local organizations attempting at improving things, but I fear that their hearts are not really in it. NGO money creeping in to it may have a thing or two to do with that (it is best for the defenders when the oppressed continue to stay oppressed), but it is not the only reason for their relative failure. The very lack of ‘visible’ persecution has made it a non-issue with the majority. (What individual gay, lesbian and transgendered people suffer in their own homes from their own families is of course invisible and unquantifiable. What the police does to gain bribes from ‘offending’ couples is not unheard of either)

    In the end, while I disagree about your perception of the so called outre elements of our community (i.e. the drag queens. I do not know that we have anything akin to leather daddies, bears or other such sub-cultures here in SL)I still do agree on the fact that if people like myself (I am a young professional) were to come out tomorrow and say who we are, things will have to change. The question is a matter of courage; where I have next to none, that guy in drag, the one who dares, he has courage a million times greater than I ever will.

  • Sahan

    I don’t know why you scholars complicate things and deviate from the main point. Sri Lankan society is not accepting homo sexuality. And the reason for this is the same reason , which is the cause for problems in all aspects of our country.

    The Attitude of people !!

    We are a nation to without conciouns or principals.. We go with what gives us most benefits , regardless of right or wrong. If the Man with the power in hand says Homo Sexuality is good , even the old hags in our villages will start saying it is ok , monks will take examples from lord Budhdhas preachings and say it is ok , etc…

    • Trinco Trev

      Sahan, perhaps the power here is held by the press? People are free to think the thoughts the press tell them they have.

      The press sometimes likes to call paedophiles gay just to confuse everyone, but not all press action is bad, exposing paedophilia is a good thing, it might embarrass the Catholic Church in Ireland but recent press reportage has stopped kids from being raped, with priests locked behind bars. Positioning gay love between consenting thirty year old men with child rape is simply incorrect.

      Freedom for gay people is important, as is freedom for married women to not be beaten by their husbands, or kids to have a childhood free from dirty uncles, or the freedom to chose your own future wife, or husband, partner job etc. All people need liberation and the laws to back that up.

  • Trinco Trev

    Great to see this discussion, some very interesting posts.

    On the subject of flamboyant over the top dress on parades, well coming out is stressful, it does not get easier with time or with repetition. Sometimes it’s easier to be very obvious, it saves stress and having to explain to yet another person that just getting married will not solve anything.

    Also as someone mentioned earlier, the poster didn’t like transsexuals because he felt he was being deceived, that it was man pretending to be a woman, that’s not the point, to the transsexual the spirit is a woman, it’s her body that is wrong. Though I know you could say that a spirit has no gender. However deception is the point at which people get upset. People like flamboyant celebrities they understand they might be gay but when their macho hero turns out to be gay they get upset.

    I understand it might be very liberating for the parader to pout and pose in a parade, but I agree that it’s hardly a positive image. I would prefer to see loving couples hand in hand than leather gear and nipple clamps.

    Everyone knows gay people, they just don’t know it, because it’s against the law and against popular culture to mention it who is going to tell you?

    I do have to agree that sex tourists paying a 12 year old for sex is paedophilia and not homosexuality. It’s also very very wrong, and very illegal in Western Europe too. A 12 year old is not a consenting adult, and nor would be a 30 year old pressurised by a manager.

    No one believes that there are no homosexuals because the laws forbids it. If heterosexuality was made illegal would you leave your wife or husband? I hope not!