On Flying the Rainbow (or Not)

I have a few gay friends and I have no issue at all with them. They are nice to me like any other people are nice to you.

I shared a room for two nights with a gay friend - at that time I didnt know his sexual preference. Maybe if did, I would be a little bit more hesitant to ask him for a space to stay in. Or maybe, if I knew, I wouldnt even think about it. But I did stay in for a couple of nights in a room with a bunk bed. I was travelling across the strait at that time and because I was still a student, I thought staying in with a friend would save me a handful amount of cash. We’re childhood friends and we used to talk a lot about girls in the way that adolescent boys do. I was looking for a free accomodation and the least thing that i could think of was now he’s turned.

When i told my other friends about this, their initial responses were "Did he do anything to you?" or "Did he make any attempt or whatsoever to hit on you?". No, he didn’t do anything. Not even the slightest attempt. That’s why i was a surprised when i found out a few years later about his sexuality because during my two-day stay, he didn’t give away anything that indicates who he is right now. All those hearsays about how gay people would jump on you at first opportunity proved to be incorrect. It’s just a normal friendly staying in like what bro would do when another bro is in town. Until this day, he’s never told me about his sexuality. He doesn’t have to.

That experience shaped my view on gay people. I was raised conservative. Scratch that. I was raised very conservative to the extent of i was prohibited from listening to pop music when i was a kid. I came from a family that holds traditional Christian values. I still have some of those conservative values in me. Seeing how progressive and liberal i’ve become (liberal is a very problematic word because it has different meanings depends on the context, but I use this word to state that difference is not something i’m allergic to), some people will find what i just wrote an utter contradiction. But years of traditional values dissemination that i had would not just totally wash away because i’ve been exposed to the Sartres and Nietzches of the world. My close friends know that the church boy that i was will forever have part in the freethinking person that i am right now. I’m a freethinking churchgoer, like Kierkegaard in sneakers.

Having two opposing polars of thoughts, albeit one is definitely bigger, engage in an eternal dialectic inside my head, I’m very careful when it comes to a delicate matter like LGBT rights. Let’s agree on the fact that had the civil marriage between two persons of same gender not been nationally legalised in America a few weeks ago, we wouldnt have this excessive glee from one side, and outrage from the other. But since we’re very eager to partake in a debate about something that constitutionally doesnt have anything to do with us, I think this is the right time to talk about it.

Let me be straightforward. I’m a heterosexual man. I only have romantic, physical, and sexual interest in members of opposite sex. I was taught that a marriage is between a man and a woman. If i’m about to get married, I will definitely marry a woman. For me personally, marriage is a union of man and woman, and it’s not debatable on my side.

While my own view on sexual preference and marriage is unshakeable, the question that lingers is what about my take on other people and their preferences?

If I had a friend and he fancied another man, would I condemn him because we dont share the same sexual preference? Would I quote a Bible verse and use it to highlight his perversion? Would I ask him to repent his sin and tell him to go back on the right path? Would I stop befriending him if he doesnt want to?

Some conservative fellows I know would urge me to say yes to all of the questions above. For them, not only homosexuality is a target of abomination, it’s also a disease that needs to be cured, either mentally or spiritually.

But I just cant loathe somebody just because he’s gay. I cant stop being a friend to somebody just because he fancies other man. It’s not the extension of my view of condoning homosexuality, instead it’s the reflection of my basic conscience that anybody should be allowed to be whoever they want to be, and as long as it’s harm-free to others, i cannot be arsed about it.

The "harm" element is an important part in my exposition because there’s a longstanding fear, at least in my upbringing, that befriending gay people will turn you into one of them. I dont discount the fact that there’s some group of people that tend to be evangelical. While I have nothing but contempt for this kind of people, I also have similar disgust towards straight men who see the world through their penises and objectify women. Bad people are bad people, regardless of their sexual preference.

As our urban society gear-locked in a fierce debate about the rights and the wrongs of gay marriage, I refuse to see this matter through monochromatic lenses. I’m definitely not against people being true to who they are - I always believe in freedom of choice, although to call for similar legalisation of civil union might be a stretch here.

The more conservative side in me will never allow myself to wave the rainbow flag, but, paraphrasing the famous quote oftenly misattributed to Voltaire, your right to do so has to be defended.