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When Truths and Texts Collide

When Truths and Texts Collide

Inksight’s head of Multimedia Stephenie Yeoh (of DMC programme) writes an honest piece on how homosexuality has challenged – and changed – her conventional beliefs.

Homosexuality is defined as a romantic or sexual attraction towards one’s own sex. It’s often categorized within the context of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community (LGBT). While some of us venture into elaborate fantasies about our future weddings. For gay couples, their greatest desire for love is to have the permission to hold hands with their loved ones. Despite over-whelming support and publicity within the last decade, it’s tragic to realize that same-sex relationships have been fighting an uphill battle for centuries, a battle that endures to this day.

According to BBC News, being homosexual is illegal in 126 countries across the globe, where people are jailed or executed. Recently, the number of countries with anti-LGBT laws has decreased to 78, but this does not mark the end of the problem.

Based on an article by TheWeekly, homosexuals witness more discrimination at work, being twice as unlikely to obtain or sustain their job. Surveys carried out by PsychCentral also suggest that homosexuals are more prone to mental illnesses, substance abuse, depression, self-harm and suicide, unsurprisingly, with discrimination as a huge contributing factor. This is not to say every homosexual falls victim to these illnesses, however, it is apparent that there are many who do, and this needs to change.

Many who are against homosexuals usually have a range of reasons, from strict family values to diverse cultural practices. Perhaps the idea of same-sex relationships are yet to warm up to some of us, but one of the main explanations given by people for rejecting them is undeniably due to their personal religion or beliefs.

Growing up from a family with a strong religious background, I can genuinely relate to that. I was an active contributor and participant in many Christian-related activities. At one point, I would devote my entire weekend to serve in churches, and I was convinced that I knew my religion as well as the back of my hand. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

I too was a person who would frown at the thought of a same-sex marriage. I could not find it within myself to celebrate the love between man and man, or woman and woman. I struggled to befriend homosexuals and maintained a distance, telling myself I wanted nothing to do with them. I looked at them differently because I thought they were ‘bad’, because I thought my religion said so.

Since when has a religion that speaks of love promotes discrimination, or even hatred?

Quite frankly, most of the time, religious scriptures have been taken out of context. For example, in the Bible, many quote 1 Corinthians 6: 9 which says “…neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…will inherit the kingdom of God.”, however, many have failed to mention verse 11 which continues “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and

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by the Spirit of our God.” which is a message that speaks of a second chance at receiving forgiveness and grace for the people who have sinned.

In Buddhist scriptures, homosexual relationships were never condemned as the religion only believes “not to engage in sexual misconduct”, which includes the four thought processes: Universal principle, Consequences, Utilitarian principle and Personal Intentions. In summary, if our actions do not cause harm and is motivated by genuine love and understanding, it is not perceived as immoral.

There are many more examples, but I confess, I am not a religious expert. Apart from Christianity (and a little bit of Buddhism from my earlier childhood years), I do not fully comprehend any other religion, in fact, I dare not say I have mastered at understanding my own, but I am confident about one thing: no religion would encourage hatred.

Based on my research and many experiences conversing with members of different racial and religious groups, there is no single religion that would approve of discriminating acts, certainly not in the name God. Yes, it is undeniably correct to argue that there are scriptures that mention homosexuality as being unfavorable or sinful, but here is the reality of sin: we all have it.

Assuming homosexuality is a sin, lying, stealing or even swearing are also sins that no human being can escape from. We have all attempted to cheat in a test that we forgot to study for, we’ve all taken a pencil that rightfully belongs to that registration desk, and we’ve all made up stories to avoid detentions. Why is it that we believe it is okay to treat homosexuals like they are most deserving of condemnation?

Homosexuals are people too.

Forget about what the media tells us, forget about the opinions you have heard from others, it is a fact that each religion preaches good values. Islam for example, is a religion that teaches peace. Hinduism teaches tolerance, acceptance and love, and Christianity tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself”, a notably quoted scripture found in Mark 12:31 and Matthew 22:39. There are many, many more religion in existence today that wants nothing more than to spread goodness to people. It doesn’t matter which God we believe in or which religion we choose to practice, discrimination hurts, and it should never be okay.

Some of us may never be fully comfortable sitting in the same room as a homosexual, some may be unwilling to share a meal together, and I will respect that, what I would ask in return is that people share that same respect to not just homosexuals, but to everyone else. It is understandable if we may find it hard to accept this for it may still go against our personal values, but there is no need to express our disapproval through discriminative acts.

Many have said that we should never judge others for being different. I would like to improvise and share this to everyone who believes homosexuality is a sin: we should never judge others because they sin differently than we do. Politeness is a value we should all teach our children, and it is a manner we should all demonstrate to one another regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.

Finally, I would like all members who have been discriminated, hurt or rejected by others to know that there are people who love and care about you, and change is on its way.

I trust that people of my generation has a lot to offer for the betterment of our society. I genuinely hope that this article can help combat the ongoing oppression against the oppressed, and that we will all someday attain that fairness that we have all worked hand in hand to achieve.

Photo taken by Stephenie Yeoh

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