Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Archive for the ‘Homosexuality’ Category

Homosexuality and its Discontents

Posted by Jerry on June 18, 2012

It is not far from the truth to complain that “most gay men want nothing more than casual sex.” Often one hears this refrain from older guys who perceive an alarming level of apparent promiscuity among the younger ones; one hears this also from young boys who seem to come manufactured with a built-in “monogamously coupled” disposition. They can’t fathom the idea of having sexual encounters that mean nothing more.

Then, there are those who are themselves struggling with frequent sexual urges, of which they are ashamed and want suppressed because of the stigma associated with multiple sexual encounters and the glorification of sexual monogamy.

So, in the midst of all these discontents, how does a homosexual find “everlasting romance”!? How does one manage to nurture a healthy, respectful, and loving relationship with another gay man, when apparently, “most gay men want nothing more than casual sex”?

Can there be such a thing as a truly loving relationship between gay men?

Now, I have a two-part reply to this:

First: All good things are rare; like diamonds, gold, or money, so is the case with people (or men) of good values and character. All valuable things come in small, scarce supply.

So yes, due to the nature of this reality, one is more likely to encounter a whole bunch of less-than-ideal options in men before finding the right kind of man who can also respond to you similarly. This is arduous, time-consuming, and a includes a bit of chance, but you can trick the game and increase your chances of finding the “right” kind of man: For example, by surrounding yourself with friends and acquaintances with similar interests; by joining clubs, memberships, or activities that are more likely to be populated by the kind of people you would like; by becoming more visible in your achievements and productivity so that your net is cast far and wide and more people hear about you, etc.

So, it’s a combination of strategy and luck–but more strategy than luck. It still requires you to have all the necessary values and virtues and personality and style of character and appearance in place before you go out seeking for people you can love, and who can love you in return.

So, in short, yes, most gay men–like the larger population in which we all reside–is for the most part uninteresting and mundane. You’ll just have to keep digging deeper, looking harder, seeking farther. You may not encounter your ideal partners 100 times a day–heck, may be not even once a day!

Second: Men like sex! This is a basic truth about our species. The male species enjoy and seek sex far more often than the female species. In the straight world, the female’s general lack of interest in pure sexual pursuits manages to balance out the male’s ability and frequency to have more sex.

However, in the gay community, there is no such counter-foil. Hence, it is easier for men to have and enjoy more sex if they are gay. The power of our hormones and physiology can be overwhelming–even when it involves romances and promises of fidelity.

So, don’t try to fight this fact of reality. Accept this fact and work out ways in which you can manage this reality in your relationships.

By this I mean, if you find yourself in a beautiful, loving, emotionally fulfilling and wholesome relationship, don’t destroy it or let go of it only because you find that you are unable to accept their need to have a momentarily fleeting sexual encounter with someone else, or their need to be in a sexually open (but emotionally closed) relationship–or only because you were unable to forgive him for that one time when he confessed to giving in to his sexual urges.

Accepting that men are built differently than women and that men face different pressures than women will help you verbally negotiate the terms and conditions of fidelity in your relationship. What constitutes cheating? What constitutes love? What are the necessary ingredients of romance in a gay relationship? And more.

The answer to the questions need not resemble the answers that conventional straight communities provide.

Finally, the basic theme of all what I said above is the “acceptance of reality as is–wholly.” The reality of the self (who we are and who we aspire to be)–and the reality of the world we live in (how men are, how gay men are, how most people are, etc.).

Happy hunting!

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Amen: A Victim of Abuse

Posted by Jerry on April 7, 2012

A word of Hebrew origin, amen means so be it, truly.

Amen movie cover designAmen also happens to be the name of a movie inspired by the life of Harrish Iyer–an enterprising, entertaining, and enthusiastic young man; a friend of mine; and a persistent voice for the rights of sexual abuse victims and the queer community.

The story behind the creation of Amen is almost as divinely providential as the title itself suggests: Amen had to be, hence it is.

With almost no funding and no actors willing to play the daring roles required of the script depicting the evolution of two men as they discover each other’s bodies, souls, and histories, it is no small feat that today Amen is an exemplar of powerhouse cinema created by independent artists and their generous patrons, winning awards and being screened across film festivals over the world.

Apart from the Directors Judhajit Bhagchi & Ranadeep Bhattacharya, it is important to highlight the courage of the two lead actors Karan Mehra and Jitin Gulati. Both handsome and rising artists in the Indian film industry, Karan and Jitin portray characters that many would consider risqué and suicidal in terms of a professional acting career in Bollywood.

Nevertheless, displaying a kind of honest heroism that we rarely get to witness even in our fantastically idealistic Bollywood movies, Karan and Jitin play the role of gay man and child sex-abuse survivor with grit, intensity, compassion and passion, and also, when required, lots of tenderness.

Karan Mehra and Jitin GulatiIndia, however, is the villain in the off-screen tale.

The Indian Censor Board–the Stalinist body that decides what artistic speech Indians are fit to confront and what we are not–has refused to give this film a clearance for screening in movie theaters unless the directors agree to cut scenes and dialogues that they consider to be vulgar and obscene.

While to the right-minded person, it is amply evident as the light of day that what’s truly obscene here is that such a body exists and that such a body dictates–like a God, or a King, or the Pope–the terms and conditions under which adult, mature, Indian audiences are to experience art, for many in India this is the expected, the accepted, the routine, the procedural, and the mundane.

Properly speaking, the battle to get Amen out in theaters is not about fair and equal treatment of all movies with similar mature content; the real battle is about the nature of free speech, artistic freedom, and the right to self-determination.

CensorshipAre we free to create, express, encounter, and consume the kind of art we want? Or, should we have to apply for prior approval from an all-governing, all-knowing, all-seeing body of authority that knows what is best for us better than we do for ourselves?

Are we free peoples? Or are we subjects of a great and benevolent ruler-king, by whose mercy and kindness we exist, we enjoy movies, and read books?

Are we ready for movies like Amen? Evidently not, according to the Indian Censor Board.

But should this fact matter at all? Absolutely not!

The matter is also not be about what happens to the Indian moral fabric if movies like Amen were to be released in all its mature glory. That’s the problem of individuals, their families, their schools, their private spheres.

The matter is about whether or not we can spend our energies, monies, time, and effort making such movies and expressing our emotions without the threat, fear, and result of censorship. The matter is about whether those of us who want to see such movies and elevate our consciousness to beyond just the most petty entertainment have the liberty to do so.

Alas, India is a democratic country. And as such, we do not live by the rule of law, but by the rule of the people. And this is one of the dangers of a democracy: the tyranny of the majority; the rule of the mob, who decides and postulates for the entire nation what they find offensive, what they find palatable, what they permit, and what they censor.

Amen is a story about the smallest minority in the world–the individual.

It is the story of a lonely individual who was abused by his uncle as a child and who grows up to meet another man, who in turn is a victim of his circumstance, tradition, and society.

As luck would have it, now Amen–the movie itself–is truly the victim at the hands of the Indian Censor Board–that great Council of Guardians of the Moral Fabric of the Indian People.

This is life in a democracy without the rule of law.

Amen.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Movies, Mumbai, Personal, Philosophy of Art, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Homosexuality is Unnatural

Posted by Jerry on February 27, 2012

A case of deep-rooted fear and self-loathing

The idea that homosexuality is unnatural is held widely not just among the religiously tainted but also by those who support the rights of LGBT persons.

Perhaps this is because the experience of same-sex attraction is so incredibly difficult to imagine for heterosexuals that they prefer to let it remain unexamined. After all, putting yourself in another person’s shoes to empathize with their subjective experiences is a difficult process in itself—and in the case of homosexuality, this may demand a visceral experience that can be quite unsettling.

Hence, even those who have gay friends and are in support of recognizing the full rights of LGBT individuals hold a deep-seated belief that homosexuality is not “natural” and “not how things were meant to be.”

Given this, the most common defense of homosexuality then boils down to a matter of choice—the right to have a personal preference in romance, even though it might violate “natural” norms.

This is the premise that needs to be challenged and discarded.

Homosexuality is not a matter of choice. It is not a preference. It is completely natural. Indeed, it can also be an expression of the grandly spiritual.

The Factual Explanation

But let’s begin from a purely probabilistic calculation: in a population of over seven billion human beings on Earth, it is a lack of imagination to insist that all the billions of people will manifest only one kind of sexual behaviour in nature, namely, the heterosexual behaviour. Just by the pure mathematics of it, the amount of potential combinations and permutations possible to the human species in the kinds of sexual, psychological, emotional, and physical manifestations are limitless.

Homosexuality is merely one naturally occurring variant in the great spectrum of human psycho-sexual possibilities. This variety is the natural order of things. Diversity in every aspect of nature is the motive power that drives procreation and evolution.

However, the religiously tainted claim that homosexuality is an aberration only observed in humans. Again, this is an ignorance of the available evidence. There is ample amount of documented evidence of homosexual and bisexual behavior in various non-human species. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals that same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom, common across species.

What’s more, the human species itself has documented evidence of homosexual and bi-sexual behaviour since its earliest history, agnostic to cultures and geographies.

The Moral Case for Homosexuality

But beyond these existential facts about homosexuality lie the more important question: Is homosexuality an immoral indulgence? Does it degrade the dignity of human nature?

You will see at the end of this article that the answer is a resounding “No!”

The religiously tainted have dominated the moral conversation, and it is time we exposed the root of their arguments. At the root of their moral assertions lie a fear of confronting their own self-loathing, cowardice, and un-reason.

The religiously tainted argue that just because homosexuality is observed in the animal kingdom, it does not mean that humans should emulate the same and “become like animals!” We have a moral compass, they chide us. We can and must choose to be better than mere animals.

Notice carefully, however, that there is no reason given beyond a bald moral assertion that human sexual pleasure is degrading. There is an implicit admission of shame and guilt associated with human sexual desire, as if prima facie it is wrong and therefore must be suppressed at all costs.

This debased projection of the human capacity to experience desire, joy, and ecstasy as the cause of shame and guilt is the filthy consequence of a mind—and a culture—obsessed with the mechanics of sex, not the experience of sex.

But even keeping that aside, what is more specious is the view that homosexuality is the consequence of a mindless, perverse pursuit of the sexual stimulus. Apparently, according to the religiously tainted, nature has arranged the sexual organs of male and females to “fit” in a particular manner that facilitates procreation. Since this is the only natural way to procreate, it therefore must be the only moral way to have sex.

Like almost everything that the religiously tainted claim, this is yet another illogical and specious jump from a physical phenomenon to a moral conclusion. If the act of sex is justified purely because of the resultant ability to procreate, then by that logic all manner of non-procreative sexual activity will need to be immoral. That would include everything from healthy behaviors like masturbation to every act of sex even among married heterosexual couples that does not lead to child-bearing.

Further, if the capacity to procreate is what decides the morality of a sex act, then heterosexual couples cannot morally indulge in a host of intimate, loving, and celebratory activities like foreplay, cunnilingus, and fellatio. Finally, the act of wagging a finger on the private, bedroom activities of heterosexual lovers simply because they do not intend to have children is itself a highly egregious moral offense that cannot be explained away.

Are We Humans or Sex Organs?

But there are some very important questions that confront the religiously tainted, if they choose to honestly grapple with this topic:

Is it really dignified to interpret the complexities of our sexual desires as little more than the arrangement of organs that “fit” together in our bodies—like pipes in the bathroom plumbing system? Is it possible to explain all of human desires—those heights of emotional and sexual experience that motivate marvels of art and architecture—as products of only titillated sexual organs? Can the entirety of the human sexual experience be reduced to the activity of our sex organs?

The religiously tainted say yes, because it is their view of human sexuality that sees nothing spiritual, nothing transcendent, nothing holy, nothing reverent in sex. They are the ones who truly describe the human sexual experience as that of mere meat groping in the dark to find the right fit.

In contrast, humans are the only species in nature with the power to recast our entire existential being into a sexual organ. We are the only species that can transform our whole bodies and our minds into the service of sexual exploration and ecstasy. Indeed, we have the power to reach dizzying heights of emotional and psychological experience without even any physical contact.

This is proper to the fullest nature of human beings. This is when humans rise to all that is possible to its own nature.

Those who call this human potential “unnatural” and “against the order of nature” are actually not ignorant of what it means to be human; they are afraid of it. It is fear of the realization that they lack self-esteem and that they loathe their own bodies that drives their hatred for all that is possible to us as a species.

Implicitly, they realize that it is this fear which allows them to hide comfortably behind the dark pronouncements of their religions and traditions.

ADDENDUM

The only hurdle facing humanity in accepting homosexuality or any other diverse forms of human pleasure as legitimate forms of human psycho-sexual experience is the primitive Judeo-Christian morality that has pervaded our civilizations for more than 2000 years, infecting even non-Judeo-Christian cultures now.

This morality is frought with the guilt and shame of sex–any sex, not just homosexual sex–and hence, it attempts to minimize the possibilities and wide range of sexual indulgences possible to humans. The ideal at the end of the road, of course, is the complete and total eradication of the sexual experience–as perfected by their moral personification, Jesus Christ, and as attempted for centuries by the celibate clergy of the Catholic Church.

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Related quote
“Observe the false dichotomy offered: man’s choice is either mindless, “instinctual” copulation – or marriage, an institution presented not as a union of passionate love, but as a relationship of “chaste intimacy”, of “special personal friendship”, of “discipline proper to purity”, of unselfish duty, of alternating bouts with frustration and pregnancy, and of such unspeakable, Grade-B-movie-folks-next-door kind of boredom that any semi-living man would have to run, in self-preservation, to the nearest whorehouse.”

Ayn Rand
On Living Death, a speech discussing the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Love and Romance, Personal, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Discussing Sexuality on CNN IBN

Posted by Jerry on November 2, 2009

Watch me and my friends discussing sexual minorities on CNN IBN.

Posted in Culture, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Friends, Personal, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Bisexuality and Commitment

Posted by Jerry on January 27, 2009

In brief, my thoughts on bisexuals and their capacity to have committed, romantic relationships with a single partner.

The incomprehensibility surrounding a person’s bisexuality has mostly to do with the fact that people impute more layers of complexity to the matter than is actually warranted.

Bisexuality is just like any other sexual identity. Merely because a bisexual has the possibility of forging deep and romantic relationships with both sexes (or the possibility of being physically intimate with both sexes) does not mean that he is inexorably led to do so at every juncture! Neither does it mean that he will more quickly tire of his current partner and seek someone of the other sex than his heterosexual and homosexual counterparts would!

A bisexual may well choose a partner of either sex and live in a committed, long-term relationship. The bond that keeps two people together in a lasting relationship is not sexual orientation (that’s more like a precondition), but love–and all the necessary elements that lead to the summary emotion of love.

And are we to deny that bisexuals have the same capacity to experience true love–for whichever gender that may be?

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Love and Romance, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Personal, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

We Evolve into Preferring Monogamy

Posted by Jerry on November 20, 2008

People generally can’t quite decide whether monogamy is natural–or even possible–for humans (men, for the most part, I think, tend to pose this doubt). There’s usually debate about the morality of monogamy or multiple partners. Some people believe that monogamy is properly moral, but we are weak-willed humans and therefore cannot live up to the ideal in our relationships.

Others argue that monogamy is unnatural–and offer biologically deterministic arguments in their defense.

I have always held the view that monogamy is neither inherently moral or immoral – a relationship’s morality is the function of the character, values, and virtues of the people involved.

Having said that, I also hold the view that monogamy is a more prudent setup–and that we consciously come to recognize it as such usually only much later in our lives–for reasons that have nothing to do with a person’s character but because of the natural context that evolves around us.

Take this analogy:

When one is younger, one is tempted–and rightly so, I would argue–to try out different majors in college, simultaneously take different courses from different streams, trying to make up one’s mind about what one prefers. Likewise, when it comes to choosing a career, a young person is eager to try different streams; he is likely to switch jobs more frequently, hunt for jobs while staying on his current one for less than a year. A younger person is more open to physical mobility–to relocation, travel, new experiences, and new friends. A younger person has a higher tolerance for transformation, upheavals, and new starts.

As one gets older, the context evolves. People tend to get settled in their careers; their tenure at a job tends to get longer–perhaps even life-long. People tend to decide upon and setup a “base” which they call home, even if they are open to long trips away. People tend to make fewer, but longer-lasting friendships. As one gets older, the tolerance for transformation, upheavals, and new beginnings diminish greatly.

Hence, my argument around the choice of monogamy–and by implication, my views about its morality–takes a similar road. I think it’s primarily a matter of prudence in response to changing contexts.

It is clear that monogamy does not come easily to most people–and certainly not naturally–in the younger days of one’s adulthood. This is due to various reasons that make up the context within which this issue arises. And in my opinion, the reasons are as follows:

  1. For various physical and biological reasons that may differ among men and women, younger people tend to have a greater sexual appetite–not just in terms of frequency but also in terms of variety. (Of course, this does not mean that such “appetites” cannot be controlled or channeled, but that’s not the point here.)
  2. For various psychological reasons, younger people tend to be more resilient to break-ups. Even though while they undergoing one, they might think that a break-up is the end of the world, younger people become quickly aware of the fact that a whole life is ahead of them and that they can move on, that they deserve better, or that they can find another mate.
  3. For reasons similar to the one above, the pressures of maintaining fidelity and abiding by the rules of a relationship tend to be weak among younger people–again, because the end of a relationship is really not the end of the world.
  4. Younger people generally have access to–or are frequently placed in–social environments that open possibilities for exploring outside the relationship (e.g., clubs, colleges, etc.). Moreover, the modern world has opened up innumerable possibilities for younger people to connect with each other–across boundaries, even. (This opens up the tangential issue of whether a person having a purely online affair can be considered to be monogamous.)
  5. Younger people generally have a lower level of tolerance when things don’t go their way in a relationship or when they experience dissatisfaction in an aspect in that relationship.

For the reasons I outlined above, I think monogamy is harder to come by and equally harder to impose upon oneself when you’re young.

As people grow older, however, I think we generally shift our predispositions quite naturally to prefer monogamy–to prefer a kind of stability in romantic relationships. 

It becomes more prudent–more sensible and in accordance with our nature as older adults–that we focus all our emotions, efforts, time, and money on a single partner (and expect likewise in reverse) because this is what lends us the most amount of physical, psychological, sexual, and emotional satisfaction.

To conclude, monogamy or open relationships are neither inherently moral or immoral. However, having said that, I believe that most people will tend towards monogamous relationships later in their lives of their own will as a consciously recognized and evaluated option that is most sensible for them–and hence, properly moral as well. Since what is rationally good for you with your life as the standard, is also properly moral.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Philosophy, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

HIV and AIDS

Posted by Jerry on November 12, 2007

The other day, I happened to catch a Hindi movie on television halfway through. The movie was one of the few recent attempts by the Hindi film industry to discuss the issues of HIV and AIDS. The two lead characters–played by prominent Indian actors Shilpa Shetty and Salman Khan–were HIV positive; notably, they were also a heterosexual couple, which was the context in which this disease and its issues were discussed.

In India, HIV is not known to be a gay disease; this is because most HIV+ individuals here are married men and women. However, given the social stigma of homosexuality, it’s quite likely that there are many married men and women in India who are in fact gay. In any case, regardless of sexual orientation, a disease simply cannot have a selective sexual preference for its host: this is a natural fact and cannot be refuted unless one makes some appeal to supernaturalism of some sort, in which case the argument is not a refutation anyway. Nevertheless, I would agree that HIV is a prevalent problem among same-sex partners.

Of interest to me is the several complex moral issues that HIV/AIDS poses. AIDS is a truly dreadful disease, utterly dreadful. I don’t think most people–particularly, the young and sexually active–appreciate the dreadful magnitude of this disease. In a very real sense, having AIDS is literally having your very DNA breached by the parasitic virus, such that every cell in your body becomes a carrier of the virus. As your immune system progressively loses the impossible battle, the virus gradually compromises your entire existence, making you susceptible and open to any other parasite seeking a host. 

When I was younger, I used to be a volunteer HIV/AIDS activist; I worked with the Indian National Service Association in promoting AIDS awareness among high-risk groups like sex-workers. I even gave a brief talk on HIV/AIDS to a group of young Indian college students. Ironically, however, reflecting in hindsight about my outreach efforts, I sense that the impact and magnitude of this deadly disease is dulled by the approach to AIDS awareness we adopt. I realize that our efforts–the secular AIDS awareness advocacy–tries very hard to strip off all moral associations with the disease and with the individuals afflicted by it. Realize that AIDS is more than just a physical illness; in most cases, it is a consequence and realization of unfortunate mental, philosophical, and spiritual ailments.

There is a fine balance to be maintained between retaining an objective moral perspective on the matter on the one hand and eradicating the stigma from the disease in order to protect psychological health, legal rights, open debate, access to medication, and early treatment, on the other hand.

Nonetheless, in an effort to raise awareness and promote open discussion, we have deliberately tried to ignore and shroud the moral and philosophical issues inextricably linked to HIV/AIDS. There is a deeper issue here than just not using condoms or sterile syringes: there is the issue of values, rationality, moral accountability, self-esteem, dignity, self-identity, and more.

The efforts to promote safe-sex awareness adopt a concrete-bound approach to behavior: here’s the disease, here’s how you get it, here’s how you can avoid it. While this may work for some people over the short-term and is effective in mass communications, a permanent and psychologically rooted transformation in the behavior of a culture does not come about from this behavioral emphasis. This pragmatic approach does not even address the causes of high-risk behavior, which are more philosophical and psychological than behavioral.

If one agrees that man’s behavior is motivated by ideas–implicitly or explicitly held ideas–then it should be easy to see that the way to change behavior–any behavior–is to identify the bad ideas at the base and uproot them. In other words, one has to explicitly draw a connection between a behavior and the motivational premises in order to be able to change both–fundamentally and for a lasting effect.

The secular AIDS awareness and safe-sex efforts almost never discuss the moral and psychological contexts that in fact promote and make high-risk behaviors possible. Beyond merely stressing the importance of having safe-sex with single partners and using sterile needles to do drugs, there must be a simultaneous effort in sex education and rehabilitation to explicitly tackle the moral (i.e., philosophical) and psychological premises that permit a man to be reckless with his own life and that of his loved ones.

Observe, in contrast, that faith-based rehabilitation programs–whether they are for alcohol addiction, sex addition, drug abuse, or any other self-destructive behavior–focus on a wholistic transformation of the individual–a physical transformation that proceed from and follow the mental and spiritual transformation. Faith-based rehab programs either explicitly or implicitly push the individual to subscribe to a specific metaphysical worldview and to its corresponding ethical principles. They either explicitly make you adopt a Christian deity or some unnamed spiritual super consciousness to whom you become morally accountable. (For example, a man in Alcoholics Anonymous attributes his ability to stop drinking to a Higher Power.)

An example comes to mind of an HIV+ gay man who appeared on the Oprah show. He admitted to being reckless with his life, being a chronic drug abuser, and a mindless hedonist. The man claims that he has now found Jesus, after undergoing some faith-based detox and rehab program. He claims to have reformed and now considers it his mission to spread awareness about the disease and lead gay men toward a spiritually enlightened lifestyle.

The point is, morality, values, spirituality, and ethics have traditionally been in the religious domain and are the tools of religious rehabilitation programs by which they achieve their transformative goals. Those who know better know that you don’t need Jesus; you know that these tools are even more effective when used with a consistent body of philosophical principles that require no appeal to supernaturalism to address the spiritual in man. Religion–as a primitive form of philosophy–can safely be replaced with a rational philosophy that identifies man as a unified whole: both spiritual and physical–and grounds the union on a natural, realist metaphysics.

Secular outreach efforts–particularly in sex education in schools–lack this most crucial and life-saving methodology. And this is a symptom of the culture’s view that spiritual and mental values have no place in a scientific approach to a problem. The secular approach is to inundate and saturate a culture with concrete facts and exhortations to use contraceptives and sterile needles. Sex education in schools discuss sexually transmitted diseases outside the context of moral and spiritual values proper to a sexually healthy human being: they merely point out the disease, the ways of contracting them, and how to behaviorally avoid the disease. They have conceded the moral and spiritual ground entirely to religion, and even deride religious methods as psuedo-scientific, unempirical, and therefore, mystical. Quite logically then, those who seek a wholistic rehabilitation of their mental, philosophical, and psychological premises have no rational and secular institution to turn to or a rational method to adopt; hence, they turn to new-age mystical meditative and/or ascetic techniques in search of spiritual upheaval.

The secular outreach must come to recognize this glaring and life-threatening gap in their efforts: if HIV/AIDS–and any other self-destructive behavior–needs to be curbed, an education about the rational and moral nature of man–which guides man’s actions as his tool of survival–is imperative as early as possible in a sexually active person’s life. One should not shirk the responsibility of drawing moral evaluations of volitional actions (with the requisite sensitivity) in order to plant a truly rooted transformation of behavior that is motivated by newer, better, and rational premises.

In sum, it is as important and life-saving–if not more–to spread and promote a rational approach to life as distributing free condoms.

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The complex moral issues about AIDS that I have not yet fully developed my thoughts on include moral culpability; perhaps, at some point I might raise the issue in a separate post. Specifically, should it be a crime for an HIV+ individual to have unprotected sex with an HIV negative partner? Depends on informed consent. If both partners are aware of the entire situation and still engage in this highly risky behavior, then it should not be illegal, although I regard it as immoral.

Is it a person’s responsibility to ascertain the HIV status of his sexual partner before having unprotected sex, or does the responsibility of disclosure lie with the HIV+ person? Perhaps, since it is difficult (impossible?) for a person to ascertain the HIV status of his partner by just asking or looking at him, the moral responsibility of disclosure should fall upon the HIV+ individual. To hide this life-threatening possibility from one’s sexual partner such that the partner is unable to make a fully informed decision about whether or not to enter into a sexual tryst is deceitful. Although, I would also state that to agree to have unprotected sex with someone whose HIV status you are unsure about or cannot verify is reckless (and immoral??) on your part.

Does non-disclosure amount to criminality? I don’t know yet. I’m open to being rationally persuaded either way.

Should disclosure of HIV status be mandatory before marriage or civil unions? No, not by the government. This can be handled privately by the concerned individuals. 

Should disclosure be mandatory for immigration–if yes, would the same principle apply to all other diseases, or only HIV/AIDS? Why? I’m uncertain on this issue as well. Reader comments are welcome.

[Edited to reflect the balanced approach of advocating concrete behavioral changes along with rational philosophical premises.]

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, My Theories and Ideas, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Those Worms Are So Gay!

Posted by Jerry on October 30, 2007

Is this news? Scientists have found evidence that same-sex attraction is genetically wired in the brain… of a worm.

University of Utah biologists genetically manipulated nematode worms so the animals were attracted to worms of the same sex — part of a study that shows sexual orientation is wired in the creatures’ brains.

Thankfully, the scientists have admitted the role of free will as a “complicating factor” in the roots of sexual attraction among humans.

“We cannot say what this means for human sexual orientation, but it raises the possibility that sexual preference is wired in the brain,” Jorgensen says. “Humans are subject to evolutionary forces just like worms. It seems possible that if sexual orientation is genetically wired in worms, it would be in people too. Humans have free will, so the picture is more complicated in people.”

You can find my views on homosexuality in my posts under the category of the same name.

[ht: The Daily Dish]

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Love and Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hell on Earth

Posted by Jerry on September 26, 2007

From what I know, living in Iran must be like living in hell on Earth.

Recently, the prestigious Columbia University lent the honor of addressing its students, faculty, and community members to the Islamic Iranian president Mahmoud Adhmediwhatever. This clown comes to the United States and makes the declaration that Iran has no gays. Well duh! We know that already: they’re all DEAD!

07.09.24.Outed-X.gifI am thoroughly disgusted with the moral depravity of the United States government for letting that bastard enter its borders and step on US soil. It’s like allowing the murderer of your most cherised values into your home. He is the same lunatic who doubts that the holocaust ever happened and whose government openly finances the terrorist attacks of Hamas.

This is a clear example of the moral altruism that guides the US government policy. It believes that it has taken the “high road” by letting this murderer into its borders in the name of liberty and free speech. That is a disgusting equivocation of two moral opposites: a murderer has already invalidated the premise of human rights with the introduction of force; he has erased the rules of intellectual persuasion and has rejected the moral conditions upon which rights are based. He cannot appeal to that which he has invalidated. The US has no obligation to respect the demands of a murderer to his non-existent rights.

This moral travesty is particularly stark when you place this situation against the backdrop of the immigration issue: the millions of highly talented, skilled, honest, earnest, and productive people who wish to enter the United States to escape the repression of their home countries and legitimately seek the recognition of their human right to life, liberty, property, and happiness; the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States living lives in the shadows, stunted from productive and material growth, denied basic human rights, living in constant fear of the uncertainty of their future, living in fear of being separated from their family and loved ones.

This is why I am righteously enraged that that criminal from Iran was permitted to set foot on the land of liberty.

I am also hugely disappointed with Columbia University, although they are well within their rights to do what they did.

Go here for the YouTube videos of the speech.

For some really alarming information, like 45% of Americans would like Mahmoud as their president, visit Cox & Forkum.

Below is a picture of two homosexual Iranians hanged to death in public.

Posted in Culture, Homosexuality, Islamo-loony, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Being Gay in India

Posted by Jerry on August 31, 2007

Having lived in India now as an openly gay man for more than a year, I have some interesting observations to report:

Most gay men I meet like to say that they are–”not gay. I’m bi.”

[uh-huh, sure honey.] “Have you ever had sex with a girl?”

“No”

“With a guy?”

“Yes.”

Hmm…..

There is a fairly dominant belief among Indian gay men that one is not born gay but is initiated into “gayhood.” I am amazed by how often my conversations with the gay men I meet in person or online go somewhat along these lines:

“So, how long have you been in this line?”

“What line?”

“This! Gay line!”

“Oh, you mean how long have I been gay?”

“Yea yea.”

“Since I was born.” — This answer noticeably disappoints them. So, I continue: 

“Since as far back as I can remember, I remember having an intense attraction to another boy in my second grade class, so much so that I remember writing down in the last page of my notebook “I love you, [name].”

“Oh my, so early! How is that possible? I just become gay [one/two/three] years ago!”

“Maybe you became fully aware that you are gay only just a few years ago. Perhaps, you may have had that implicit attraction for the same sex all your life; you may have always found boys attractive but never thought much of it.”

“No. I was always attracted to girls. I still like girls.”

“Oh, so you’re bi?”

– and then the conversation goes back to how I described it above.

Most of the gay men I meet here are amazingly adept at hiding their gayness (or, most straight Indian men are incredibly androgynous). One would be hard pressed to identify a gay man in a crowd of men; and the fact that Indian men in general are rather fussy about their appearance, visit their salons for facials and manicures regularly, and dress in the most fashionably form-fitting clothes they can afford, makes the task of identifying gay men here that much harder. Therefore, I am often surprised when I meet a gay man here; often, the first thing that strikes me upon seeing one is “You’re gay!? I wouldn’t have guessed!”

Many gay men are married; and I do not ever care to meet them. The ones I do meet are not worth my time. They are psycho-sexually immature and largely non-introspective. Most of them are still in the closet and actively deny their sexuality by having and flaunting girlfriends.

Gay men in India have little to no resource to healthy ideas about gay sexuality, psychological maturity, and shrugging off feelings of guilt or moral depravity. Also, many of them holding strong religious tendencies does not help the matter.

Homosexuality is legally a crime in India, which creates further psychological, social, and existential barriers to coming out of the closet–indeed, it is positively life-threatening to be an openly gay man in India: the only most widely known gay-interest website in India keeps track of attacks and harassment of gay men by the Indian police and gang members who exploit the fear of being “outed” in the Indian society.

In general, gay men in India are often intellectually and emotionally immature, which often reflects in the kinds of relationships they enter into and endure. Relationships here are fickle, impetuous, and short-lived. Since talking about sexuality in general is still taboo, homosexual issues are rarely ever brought up in discussions–either in the privacy and security of one’s own home with one’s family or on the public debate shows on news channels. In other words, gay men in India are left to fend for themselves and have to learn the relevant psycho-sexual and physical issues on their own. Hence, beyond just the misinformation of all sorts that pervades the Indian gay community, few gay men have a healthy assessment of their own psycho-sexual and moral worth, which means their level of self-esteem is usually very harmfully low.

The constant monitoring of their personal behavior and the persistant filtering of their mannerisms until the point where it ceases to be conscious and becomes a habit indicate a distorted self-image; some grow up with an internalized malevolence towards the society that forces them to hide under a facade. This malevolence over time gets rationalized into a sense of justified sacrifice for the sake of sparing themselves, their wives, and their families the shame of coming out as being gay.

What does all this mean for me?

I have yet to encounter a gay man in India who can even mildly captivate my interest. The slightly more interesting and psychologically healthier ones are mostly expats who don’t intend to stay in this country for too long. Further, being that I am an Objectivist–which means that I hold strong, radical, and unyeildingly rational principles with an intense passion–and an atheist, the likelihood of me finding a partner who can be my intellectual companion as well as be worthy of being “my highest value and the object of my passionate worship” is most certainly non-existant.

Addendum

I wanted to add:

Most gays in India adopt either one of the following ways of living–
1) Live in the closet all their lives, marry, have kids, and engage in discreet sexcapades with other men
2) Come out of the closet and caricature themselves along the most extreme of homosexual traits such that they come to be perceived as a social freak, which distracts society from the essence of their sexual identity and focuses attention on their jarring persona and loud behavior.

Both practices are attempts to ensure the safety of one’s life and dignity. Those adopting the second approach hope to create such a barrier of “foreigness” or freakishness about them that society will rather choose to ignore them entirely (through ostracism) than bother to be associated with them at all. The manner of protecting one’s dignity in the second approach is by donning on a whole new persona that is superficial and hence acts as a sheild to the true emotional core of such gay men, where their bruised sense of self-esteem is guardedly nursed.

Finally, the extreme freakishness of those adopting the second approach also affords society with a benign target of jokes and derision, thus allowing society to perceive no sense of threat to their morality or beliefs from the reality of homosexual men in India.

The ones who choose neither of the above paths are relatively very few.

[For a related post, see Dissecting the Gay Indian Male.]

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Personal, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | 62 Comments »

Enforcing Moral Values

Posted by Jerry on June 27, 2007

Can a value be universally considered so good that it would be justified to ensure that everyone values it and–if need be–enforce that valuation by legislative force?

For example, if we all realize that religion, irrationality, and mysticism are harmful to human survival, would it be justified to codify the valuation of reason, atheism, and rationality into law? What if we realize that human life is the standard of all values and one’s own life should be one’s greatest value, then should we codify this principle into law–enforce it in such a way that it would be illegal for someone to deny his life as a value or commit suicide?

The answer to each of these questions is, emphatically, No!

Nothing justifies valuation by force, and in fact the two concepts are contradictory and nullify each other. As a value-oriented and value-directed philosophy, Objectivism points out that the concept “value” presupposes an individual’s choice in the matter. There is no value without a volitional agent freely choosing it. A value–by Objectivist definition–is a *chosen* goal or desire; it can be neither enforced nor intrinsic. It is the attribute of choice (volition) that gives rise to the need for morality and ethics and makes a chosen end either a value or a vice in relation to a man’s life.

Having said that, individuals are free to arbitrarily choose this or that as a value–however, they do so at their own peril. The nature of existence and man, and the requirements of man’s nature, impose upon him certain moral obligations to choose only those ends that can further and enhance his survival; these chosen ends can then be properly regard as “values” to him; if he chooses to ignore these metaphysical requirements of his survival, then he is doing it at the cost of his own life.

But enforcing any value–no matter how objectively derived these values may be–undercuts the entire meaning of values in the first place; it is like taking the valuing out of value. If an individual is not the agent of valuation but merely the receptacle of handed-down values, then his actions in pursuit of these values will neither be volitional nor consistent–and those actions could not properly be regarded as virtues.

If an individual has no reason to hold a value other than because it is mandated by law, then he will also have little or no knowledge of how to pursue and maintain that value nor any incentive to discover the reasons; in other words, he will not know what is a virtuous life and how to lead it nor will he care to learn of it. He will seek further mandated guidance in the realm of virtues, thoughts, and actions. This breeding of intellectual laziness entrusts the job of thinking to others; thus, man comes to believe that philosophy and ethics are removed from and unconnected to his life because he is only concerned with the mundane concretes of his daily life.

This encroachment of force in the most personal, moral, and ethical aspects of a man’s life results in the complete invalidation of man as a free and volition being–thus, making man a mindless instrument of enforced morality, which is not morality at all in the first place.

However, this is precisely what is being attempted by legislations across the world. Governments have assumed the role of a moral authority and have begun passing down moral laws–what it considers as being in the benefit of the “greater human family.” The government has replaced the individual as the moral and causal agent. In fact, some intellectuals and lay people consider this the proper role of the government: since man cannot be trusted or is intellectually incapable of making the right choices in morality, he must be forced to do so by law.

This was already attempted by the Communists when they enforced atheism and charity (equitable distribution) by law. This is increasingly being practiced by other governments who try to enforce and monitor morality in free speech communications (e.g., fair speech), television, media, internet, books, blogs, etc. Similarly, there are governments passing laws against gay marriages, pornography, drugs, prostitution, suicide, stem cell research, abortion, and euthanasia; laws extending rights to animals, enforcing health care for everyone, demanding “Corporate Social Responsibility” or “public disclosure”; laws against racist or hate speech; and many others.

These are examples of the government’s infiltration into the domain of man’s morality, i.e., into the realm of his values and virtues. By making it illegal for a person to indulge in drugs or prostitution, the government has already undercut any attempts by him to *choose* a moral or virtuous action in regard to the matter. Thus, even though man could engage in or avoid drugs and prostitution despite the laws, his process of deliberation on the matter is heavily burdened by ramifications outside his internal and consciously chosen moral value system. Thus, for him, his life becomes not a personally and consciously chosen value (for which reason he avoids drugs) but something thrust upon him by external forces–and who is he to deny his own life as a value? He has no right to his own life–neither to live nor to commit suicide. (Of course, when a rational man guided by a consciously rational philosophy chooses to avoid drugs, he does it not because the laws mandate it but because his moral value system does. Such laws are meaningless to him; he is directed not by the laws but by his philosophy, and he properly agitates for the repeal of such laws.)

Indeed, enforced morality breeds intellectual laziness, which results in man becoming more prone to immoral acts; with the lack of principles and a consciously chosen system of values, man becomes incompetent at evaluating the morality of his own actions in the face of every concrete scenario and becomes chronically dependent on the government for guidance–thus, legitimizing and sustaining the government’s claim as a moral authority.

The enforcement of morality reduces the conceptual mind of an adult to the level of a child’s undeveloped mind. Just as a child is given moral commands (do this, don’t do that, don’t say this, don’t watch that, etc.), so is an adult given moral commands to follow with the only reason being “Because we said so.” This command, which attempts to invalidate man as a moral and volitional being is, in essence, the sole justification for the morality preached by intellectuals, advocated by philosophers, enforced by the governments today.

“The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap.” Ayn Rand

Posted in Ayn Rand, Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Evolutionary Roots of Altruism

Posted by Jerry on June 26, 2007

Either there are more empirical studies being conducted these days that attempt to reveal an evolutionary basis for altruism or such studies are merely getting significant media attention. I have come across several news articles recently that report on scientific studies on altruistic behavior in animals–particularly, chimpanzees–and thus hinting at the idea that humans are innately altruistic or have biologically evolved to retain an altruistic tendency.

Whatever the case is, I hardly see these studies on the possible evolutionary roots of altruism as a philosophical claim to holding altruism as a moral principle. There is a difference between saying “we have biologically evolved to have a characteristic” and “we must act in accordance to our biological tendencies.” Every action open to our choice and within the realms of our conscious awareness falls under the domain of morality and is therefore also open to moral scrutiny.

While some of us may have a greater predilection for anger, depression, addiction, or emotional volatility–which may be rooted in our genes to some extent–these actions are also at the disposal of our consciousness and require the use of our volitional faculty.

As another analogy, I believe pedophilia has causes similar to homosexuality (be it biological, environmental, or both); nonetheless, the former is fully immoral whereas the latter is not, and both are open to our conscious choice in manifesting the actual behavior.

Thus, claiming to find evolutionary roots to altruism–an area that is still highly unclear and adulterated with moral and political agendas–does not give logical credence to the claim that altruism is a categorically moral principle to be followed. To make that judgment, the principle of altruism will need to be subjected to the scrutiny of consciously rational, logical, and philosophical analysis, which is the domain of philosophers not evolutionary scientists.

[HT: John's Rhyme of the day]

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Do You Have a Gay Head?

Posted by Jerry on June 20, 2007

EXAMPLE A: Hair Whorl (Men)
Gay men are more likely than straight men to have a counterclockwise whorl.
Photographs by Mark Mahaney  

Do you have a gay head?? Do the size of the fingers on your hand betray your sexual identity??

An article explores some recent studies into the biological traits of gender and sexual identity, highlighting some strange and surprising correlations between one’s physiology and sexual orientation. Here are large chunks of excerpts from the article. The article is quite long, but a very interesting read that should not be missed! 

Statistically, for instance, gay men and lesbians have about a 50 percent greater chance of being left-handed or ambidextrous than straight men or women. The relative lengths of our fingers offer another hint: The index fingers of most straight men are shorter than their ring fingers, while for most women they are closer in length, or even reversed in ratio. But some researchers have noted that gay men are likely to have finger-length ratios more in line with those of straight women, and a study of self-described “butch” lesbians showed significantly masculinized ratios. The same goes for the way we hear, the way we process spatial reasoning, and even the ring of our voices. One study, involving tape-recordings of gay and straight men, found that 75 percent of gay men sounded gay to a general audience. It’s unclear what the listeners responded to, whether there is a recognized gay “accent” or vocal quality. 

It was already known that in (presumably straight) men, a cell cluster in the hypothalamus called INAH3 is more than twice the size of the cluster in (presumably straight) women, a distinction probably created during fetal development when male hormones begin acting on boy fetuses and the two genders embark on different biological courses. LeVay designed a study to see if there were any size differences inside gay brains. His results were startling and unexpected. In gay men, INAH3 is similar in size to straight women’s.

This finding challenged a lot of what scientists believed. “The brain was considered pretty hardwired,” says Roger Gorski, a neurobiologist at UCLA who researches sexual differentiation. “It was male or female, period. Then Simon’s study shows that there could be intermediates. That wasn’t just a watershed—it pushed the water over the waterfall.”

Sheep are among 500 animal species where homosexuality has been documented. They are also among the few who practice exclusive homosexuality, like many humans. In any population of sheep, about 8 percent of males show exclusive homosexual behavior. Little is known about the romantic life of Sapphic sheep because ewes tend to express their sexual interests by standing entirely still, yielding no clues about their partner preferences.

Slicing open the brains of ten ewes, eight female-oriented rams, and nine males who preferred other rams, researchers in the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine found nearly the same variations in hypothalamus that LeVay first noticed. Male sheep who were attracted to females had a significantly larger hypothalamus dimension than females or male-oriented males.

One of the riddles still vexing geneticists is why only 50 percent of gay identical twins share a sexual orientation with their sibling, despite being genetically identical. “We know from all sorts of research that it’s not your upbringing, not relationship with parents or siblings, not early-childhood sexual experiences and whether you go to a Catholic school or not,” says Sven Bocklandt, a geneticist at UCLA. “What I believe is that it is the ‘epigenetics environment,’ meaning the environment on top of our DNA—meaning the way that the gene is regulated. If you have identical twins, the genes are identical, but they are used differently. Every man and every woman has all the genes to make a vagina and womb and penis and testicles. In the same way, arguably, every man and woman has the genetic code for the brain networks that make you attracted to men and to women. You activate one or the other—and if you activate the wrong one, you’re gay.”

Of course, biology doesn’t determine everything. And some critics of sexual-orientation researchers blame them for minimizing the role of experience in determining our affectional course in life. The feminist biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling has waged a constant battle against their research, which she calls “a big house of cards” that ignores the power of environment in creating personality. Nurture, she argues, can and should be studied as a link to sexual orientation.

The rush to declare a biological mandate is motivated by a political agenda, says Fausto-Sterling, the author of Sexing the Body, who is married to a woman after a marriage to a man. “For me and for any feminist, I think it’s a pretty fragile way to argue for human rights. I want to see the claims for gay rights made on moral, ethical, legal, and constitutional bases that don’t rely on a particular scientific view of sexual development.”

My brief thoughts:

  • I’ve always held that most (all?) people possess the genetic predisposition to various sexualities, but only a few people actually trigger the ones different from the norm. This trigger is quite possibly the result of environmental and developmental influences.
  • I am not against parents genetically determining the sexuality of their children, if this ever becomes possible. Parents have that right, and governments need not interfere in this personal and familial matter. But I would highly discourage such a practice. A case can be made that the child’s right to be naturally who he is born to be is being violated by the parents interference. To that, I would like to point out that since sexuality is not wholly (or even largely) determined by genes alone, it is still quite possible for the child to develop a sexual identity that is different from or a combination of his existing genetic makeup–even though the likelihood of that happening may be very small. Thus, the child is not naturally born to be heterosexual or homosexual–only more likely to be so depending on its genetic makeup.
  • Finally, regardless of whether sexual identity is biological or not (and to whatever extent), the morality of sexual identity is not essentially dependent on its physiological origins. All men are born with the capacity to reason; but this fact does not make all men rational or moral.

Posted in General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Love and Romance, Personal, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Just Something Strangely Funny

Posted by Jerry on May 29, 2007

I was just re-reading a comment by Tim Wikiriwhi on an old post, and I am still awestruck–as if reading it for the first time–by the absurdity of his comment! It is actually very amusing, and I don’t mean to be derisive at this moment. I am merely curious about the kind of thinking process that produced the chain of sentences in his comment.

Take this one for example. Tim says

I find it an hallmark of intellectual poverty that… the universality of homosexuality in regard to every tribe of humanity is not understood as proof of the fall of mankind into sin.

Good gawd. Those reasoning skills are awfully blunt! That statement is kinda like saying, “I find it an hallmark of intellectual poverty that… the universality of religious belief in every tribe of humanity is not understood as proof of the fall of mankind into irrationalism and sin.”

Actually, even though I disagree with the logic of my statement, it certainly is more sound and defensible than his. I wonder what he holds as the standard of proof–what does “proof” or proving something constitute.

Anyway. The world–and all its people–never ceases to amaze me. Having a blog is a delightful way to meet such people with such outlandish thoughts and arguments from a safe distance, where any such interactions can be terminated at the moment it begins to go out of the bounds of sanity and simple sense.

Posted in General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Humor, Personal, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Altruism and Homosexuality

Posted by Jerry on February 6, 2007

My friend and I were having a discussion on the notion of unearned guilt and its altruistic roots. Somehow, we got into a discussion of homosexuality, and I analytically explored the altruistic roots of homosexual life, particularly in the context of Indian society.

My being gay is certainly a huge cause of worry for me because of the impending explosion it will create in my ultra-Catholic home. At some time, indeed sometime rather soon in the future, I will have to decisively come out to my mom and dad.

I worry about my mom in particular because her whole life has been one of dedication to her God and religion. In addition to that, her explicitly stated purpose in life is to ensure that her children “reach God in heaven by living a pure and religious life here on Earth.” This, she considers, her duty in life and purpose of being a parent.

Thus, my homosexuality will not merely be a shocking revelation to her regarding my identity; it will be, to her, the spelling out of my very soul’s destiny in hell. It will not only be a failure of her life’s purpose but an inexplicably agonizing realization that her son’s soul will be lost forever.

To say that she will spend the rest of her life crying, praying, hiding her face from society, seeking for answers from priests, and being tormented by the burden of my “dirty” secret is to not even hint at the magnitude of her suffering.

I can say with all certainty that, upon learning of my homosexuality, she would want to commit suicide, and the only thing that will stop her from killing herself will be the fact that the Catholic Church categorically denounces suicide as a mortal sin. Her soul will go to hell if she were to commit suicide–and this is the only thing that will stop her. In fact, as I write this, I can imagine that her urge to kill herself might be so strong, her shame so unbearable, and her grief so deep, that she might after all choose to end it despite her belief that it would mean spending an eternity in hell.

And I love my mom. The last thing in the world I want to do is cause her such profound grief, let alone drive her to the point of committing suicide. But I cannot escape the fact that this is an impending scenario. I must–and I will have to–come out to her someday… soon. This is the unearned guilt I am being forced to carry: being forced to feel the guilt for causing such a scenario to happen, for having to someday cause my mom this kind of worry, emotional devastation, shame, and grief.

The altruistic thing to do would be to sacrifice myself, my own happiness, my identity, for the sake of my mom who I love very much; to remain in the closet and do as she pleases.

But because I choose not to be altruistic and sacrifice my life for her sake, her moral code forces me to carry an unearned guilt. Her moral code–her religious and societal moral code–portrays me as the selfish son who chooses his own selfish happiness over his own mother’s. Of course, along with rejecting her moral code, I reject the possibility of carrying any unearned guilt. I fully realize that whatever the extent of her grief, I will not have been the cause of it. The true cause of her grief (and more importantly, of my worry and predicament) is her irrational moral code–which includes the altruism and mysticism she holds, which is also common to the country and society we live under.

Therein lies the evil of altruism; as Ayn Rand properly identified it, in its most essential sense, altruism is the moral code of hatred for humanity. It forces you to validate, legitimize, and justify your love for another person by sacrificing yourself and your happiness for them.

Thus, love (and, indeed, any other human relationship) is symbolized by self-sacrifice, and humans are merely sacrificial animals for one another. In the end, it’s a bloody world full of human corpses dying in an orgy of self-sacrifice on the altar of altruism.

I love my mom. But I love myself more. I choose not to sanction my own victimization by my mom’s evil moral code. Hence, I choose my life over hers.

Posted in General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Mumbai, Objectivism, Personal, Philosophy, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif | 14 Comments »

We said, “You Just Ain’t Ready Yet”

Posted by Jerry on July 13, 2006

Democracy can be a very dangerous thing. Indeed, Aristotle described democracy as a “necessary evil,” but an evil nonetheless. A democratic country can be a threat to its own citizens as well as to other nations. Consider the threat of democratic, nuclear-capable Iran; or that of democratically elected Hamas government of Palestine; or even that of the largest democracy in the world–India.

Farah Baria of the Indian Express wrote a brilliantly hard-hitting article on the irrational reasons for India’s homophobia. Consider the following excerpt from her article:

Recently, replying to a petition filed in the Delhi High Court by Naz Foundation, an advocacy, AIDS control and gay outreach organization, the Government claimed that Indian society was ”not ready” for the practice of homosexuality. In fact the 42nd report of the Law Commission opines that society’s disapproval was ”strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offence, even when adults indulge in it in private.” The penalty? Imprisonment for ten years or even life.

How ironic that in a country where criminals seem to go scot-free for roasting 14 people alive in a bakery, national leaders are acquitted for abetting the carnage of 3,000 Sikhs, scores are maimed or blinded because they belong to a ”lower” caste, women are wantonly assaulted on city streets, and many, many marriages are alibis for legalized violence and rape, our government wants to ”protect” us from law abiding citizens, whose only ”crime” is their sexual preference! [emphasis mine]

While I don’t agree with everything that Baria argues in the article–for example, her flat assertion that homosexuality is genetic, and that’s a fact; or her Kinseyan hypothesis of Indian sexuality–her article expertly dessimates some of the reasons used to maintain the illegal status of homosexuality in India.

Unfortunately, Baria, like most people, do not realize that it is useless to argue for “gay rights” without first, and most importantly, arguing for individual rights! India’s constitution enshrines democracy as a greater value than individual, human rights. That, translated in practice, means the majority mob gets to decide what the rules of the game are. If the majority Indians are not “comfortable” with legalizing homosexuality, well then the human rights of the homosexual minority can and should be trampled. At some point in the future, if the majority decides that they do not like eating broccoli, they can simply pass a law criminalizing its growth and consumption.

Democracy is the political application of Utilitarianism–irrelevant of all its variations–and they are both equally evil.

And this is why, in my salute to America on its Independence Day, I stated that I admire the philosophy that is at the foundation of American society and government: a constitutional inviolability of individual, human rights. This fundamental fact ensures that violations of individual rights–regardless of the majority opinion–will not become laws. The fact that America is not consistent in its adherence to its own Constitution is a matter aside; it does not invalidate the morality and potency of its Constitution.

[To read Farah Baria's full article, click below]

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Homosexuality, India, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif | 2 Comments »

Ignorant Indian Collegiates; And a Word of Advice to All You Homos!

Posted by Jerry on June 21, 2006

College students are clearly of the age where they can and probably do engage in sexual intimacies. And if they do choose to be sexually intimate, I believe it is their moral and rational obligation to be cognizant of all the risks associated with their actions, such as pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Failing to educate yourself of the consequences of your actions, especially when such information is readily available in most cases, is wilful negligence, life-threatening, and a possible violation of other's rights.

So, I am quite shocked that the college students of Mumbai, India are so utterly ignorant of some very important matters regarding STDs:

According to the Times of India-Bombay Times, a survey conducted by Wockhardt-Harvard Medical International HIV/AIDS Education and Research Foundation (WHARF) found that a "shockingly 40% of [Mumbai] city collegians believe that HIV is transmitted through kissing.
About 30% believe it can be spread through hugging.
About 45% believe it spreads through mosquito bites.
About 25% believe it can spread through sharing of clothes.

"Of those polled, 60% boys said that they had received their information on HIV/AIDS in their schools, while only 22% of girls had received such information." [Bombay Times]

In the same paper, a few pages later, Dr. Rajan Bhonsle, Sexologist–writes some words of advice in response to a reader question about the "details of anal sex." It's, I think, the most disturbing and grossest thing I've ever read in a newspaper! Well, I suppose the good thing in all of this is that sex now being discussed openly in the papers (even anal sex!) I'm only excerpting a few parts; the last sentence is especially noteworthy:

"Basically, the anus is not designed for penetration by any hard object. The anal sphincter tightens ordinarily when stimulated, and attempts at penile insertions may be distressing even if done slowly and gently. The lining of the rectum is very thin, tears easily, does not heal very fast and so, it is vulnerable to infections. The tears [in the lining of the rectum] can enlarge to a fissure or a crack leading to the outside of your body. These are painful and slow to heal. There is the remote possibility that a fistula could open up, allowing feces to reroute into the abdominal cavity or into the vagina. There is also the increased risk of hemorrhoids, which are quite uncomfortable. By the way, I would like you to know that as per Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (1860), "anal sex" is a punishable offence, even when it is happening between husband and wife with mutual consent."

!!!

Posted in Homosexuality, India | 4 Comments »

Flaming Gay Animals?

Posted by Jerry on June 14, 2006

Weltanschauung wrote up a post stating his definitive stance on homosexuality as being decidedly biological and therefore, not subject to moral scrutiny. He provided, as evidence, this book "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity."

Interestingly enough, however, the author of the very book that Weltanschauung puts forth as reason for his stance, would probably not agree with him entirely. Apparently, Bruce Bagemihl, the author, concludes that homosexuality among humans is "obviously both" nature and nurture.

Ofcourse, my own long-standing contention has been the very same thing (see posts filed under the category "Homosexuality"); sexual identity in humans must have some complex and dynamic matrix of reasons and causes. To me, it was clear that homosexuality had to have some biological basis because it was observed among animals. However, given that humans are radically different entities from other species–given the unique nature of our consciousness–it was also obvious to me that human sexuality could hardly be neatly reduced to purely and only biological causes. Any tenacious thinker would be able to easily conclude that there must certainly be a large amount of psychological and environmental influences on a human being's behaviors, especially the development of their sexual identity.

Moreover, the author of this book discusses the same argument from evolutionary "exuberance" that I had tried to convey as being the probable cause for the passing of the "gay gene"; evolution does not only "select" for survival and speciation/reproduction, but also for–among other reasons–diversity (also given that it is all a random process of selection, even non-functional genes are sometimes passed down the evolutionary chains)[note, this idea is not original to me, but I have long believed it to be the most probable one as, in my knowledge, it does not contradict any known scientific theories or fundamental philosophical principles].  

For those of you who might be interested in investigating Here's the review of the book on Amazon:

Bruce Bagemihl writes that Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity was a "labor of love." And indeed it must have been, since most scientists have thus far studiously avoided the topic of widespread homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom–sometimes in the face of undeniable evidence. Bagemihl begins with an overview of same-sex activity in animals, carefully defining courtship patterns, affectionate behaviors, sexual techniques, mating and pair-bonding, and same-sex parenting. He firmly dispels the prevailing notion that homosexuality is uniquely human and only occurs in "unnatural" circumstances. As far as the nature-versus-nurture argument–it's obviously both, he concludes. An overview of biologists' discomfort with their own observations of animal homosexuality over 200 years would be truly hilarious if it didn't reflect a tendency of humans (and only humans) to respond with aggression and hostility to same-sex behavior in our own species. In fact, Bagemihl reports, scientists have sometimes been afraid to report their observations for fear of recrimination from a hidebound (and homophobic) academia. Scientists' use of anthropomorphizing vocabulary such as insulting, unfortunate, and inappropriate to describe same-sex matings shows a decided lack of objectivity on the part of naturalists. [emphasis mine]

Astounding as it sounds, a number of scientists have actually argued that when a female Bonobo wraps her legs around another female … while emitting screams of enjoyment, this is actually "greeting" behavior, or "appeasement" behavior … almost anything, it seems, besides pleasurable sexual behavior.

Throw this book into the middle of a crowd of wildlife biologists and watch them scatter. But Bagemihl doesn't let the scientific community's discomfort deny him the opportunity to show "the love that dare not bark its name" in all its feathery, furry, toothy diversity. The second half of this hefty tome is filled with an exhaustive array of species that exhibit homosexuality, complete with photos and detailed scientific illustrations of the behaviors described. Biological Exuberance is a well-researched, thoroughly scientific, and erudite look at a purposefully neglected frontier of zoology. –Therese Littleton

Posted in Homosexuality, Rights and Morality | 3 Comments »

Dissecting the Gay Indian Male

Posted by Jerry on May 29, 2006

India is quite arguably a very androgynous – if not an outright feminine – culture; Indian men are fairly well-adjusted to displays of sensitivity, emotional depth, and homosocial intimacy.

It is not rare to see men walking around the city hand-in-hand or arms over their shoulders, displaying signs of very intimate affection towards each other. Once I saw a group of young men caressing each other’s hair, one of them combing the other’s lengthy locks with what seemed to me like so much love in his eyes, while the other men in the group carried on a lively and animated conversation amongst themselves.

Well, all of this means, it gets awfully hard for actual gay men to figure out who’s in who’s “camp.” It’s incredibly risky to assume someone’s gay or that someone has the “hots” for you just by their non-verbal behavior and overt displays of intimacy.

I suppose this type of a cultural acceptance of homosocial behavior could lead to psychological burial or repression of a gay man’s proper homosexual expression. By that I mean, a gay man may not express his sexuality as much as he may express his homosociality.  The ambiguous sexual nature of the behavior he observes among the men around him may convince him that he can act likewise and be safe and find homosocial encounters as a satisfactory outlet to his gay expression. 

Since one can never be sure of the sexual intentions or persuasions of another man, it becomes incredibly risky to just assume the other’s sexual orientation and make an unsolicited or unwanted move–particularly given the paradoxical fact that while Indian men are notoriously homosocial, they are equally homophobic

At the same time, the sexual ambiguity in orientation also may lead a gay man to believe that he could effectively “convert” any straight man and convince them into being sexually intimate. While this may work for some, it also leads to disastrous consequences, such as homophobic backlashes.

Moreover, ambiguity in sexual behavior leads Indian gay men to try and seek the fulfillment of their desire to be intimate with another man in such homosocial–but non-sexual–relationships (i.e., in safe homosocial intimacies with straight men); the result of this disguised approach to homoerotic intimacy thereby represses a full-blown expression of proper gay male sexuality with other gay men. Some gay men might even end up convincing themselves of the delusion that they are not really homosexual, that they merely have strong affections for other men just like other genuinely straight men do for each other.

All of that (and possibly other socio-psychological factors) then probably leads some Indian gay men to delude themselves into thinking that they are in fact bisexual or maybe even straight!–not as a matter of fact, but as an act of conditioned auto-suggestion upon their own minds–undoubtedly with terrible consequences for themselves and for those they share intimate relationships contact with, like their wives or romantic partners.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Personal, Political Issues, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Dissecting the Indian Male

Posted by Jerry on May 29, 2006

[Refer to this post for a more formal treatment of this issue: Disecting the Gay Indian Male.] 

So, at work, I sit beside this handsome, Indian boy; he’s tall, has broad shoulders, a sharp face, and wears rectangular, thick-framed glasses. As I said, he’s quite handsome.

Anyway, the point of my writing this post, however, is not to explore the details of his attractiveness, but to consider his non-verbal interactions with me in light of the larger attitude of masculinity and collectivist mentality in India.

This handsome bloke (yes, we speak British here) has this habit of nonchalantly placing his hand on my thighs while talking to me; or holding my hands in his and looking directly into my eyes when he’s asking me for some help or advice (typically, in matters of editing and studying).

Needless to say, being that I have the “hots” for men, or in other words, being that I fancy young blokes, his non-verbal style of communicating with me is only slightly uncomfortable – oh, but I’m NOT complaining! Just merely stating the fact that it’s a wee bit uncomfortable – especially the hands-on-my-thighs part.

And no, he is not gay – that is a fact. I’m certain of it. In all other matters, he displays the kind of typical straight boy goofiness that young, straight American males tend to display – a kind of hollow excitement of being perpetually at the cusp of puberty, only just becoming aware of their raging testosterone, and consequently going berserk!

His physical frankness with me is not unusual as a manner of behavior among Indian men. One could argue quite persuasively that India is an androgynous – if not an outright feminine – culture; its men are very well-adjusted to displays of sensitivity, emotional depth, and homosocial intimacy (I wonder if Bollywood has a big role in shaping the Indian male psyche as such).

It is not rare to see men walking around the city-streets hand-in-hand, or arms over their shoulders, or displaying other signs of very intimate affection towards each other. This one time at the train station, I saw a group of young men caressing each other’s hair, one of them combing the other’s lengthy locks with what seemed like so much love in his eyes, while the other men in the group carried on a lively and animated conversation among each other.

Well, all of this means, it gets awfully hard for *actual* gay men like to me to figure out who’s in who’s “camp” – if you know what I mean. It’s incredibly risky to assume someone’s gay, or someone has the “hots” for you just by their non-verbal behavior and displays of intimacy.

I suppose this could possibly lead to a further psychological burial of a gay man’s homosexual expression because of the ambiguous nature of homosocial behavior he observers among the men around him. Moreover, this ambiguity probably leads Indian gay men to try and seek satisfaction and fulfillment of their psychological desires to be intimate with another man in such homosocial relationships (i.e., in safe homosocial intimacies with straight men) thereby repressing a full-blown expression of their proper sexuality with other gay men.

All of that (and other socio-psychological causes) then probably leads some Indian gay men to delude themselves into thinking that they are in fact bi-sexual, or maybe even straight! And not as a matter of fact, but as an act of conditioned force upon their own minds – undoubtedly, with terrible consequences for themselves and for those they come in close contact with.

The collectivistic influence:

The collectivist expression in all of this is the apparent lack of any notion of individual space and personal privacy. It is deemed rude and disrespectful for one to insist on privacy among friends, colleagues, co-workers, relatives, or family members. In fact, insisting on privacy on any matter is also looked upon with suspicion.

For example, if I insisted on closing the door to my bedroom, certainly it must be because I have something to hide! What is it that I do that cannot be shared by others?

In fact, at work, I am routinely subjected to all kinds of questions about my personal and professional life that I find quite intrusive and unnecessary for them to know about. One of my co-workers insisted on finding out my middle name and my official signature – and I barely know the guy!
Yet, insisting on privacy or declining to answer such questions casts you in a suspicious light; you are considered as possibly dishonest, or at least obnoxiously conceited.

It is also regarded as offensive to maintain personal space between yourself and another person. Why would you want to maintain such a distance (a distance that Indians would find inordinately greater than necessary)? Is it because the person has foul odor? Do you not like being next to the person? Maintaining personal distance also could be construed as your unwillingness to be friendly with the person.

Thus, everybody wants to be in everyone else’s business and everyone else’s personal space. That is the culture. It is a clear expression of its collectivist influence. The psychological mentality of collectivism and the physical reality of a highly over-populated country exacerbate the rampant disregard for and stifling of individualistic notions.

This collectivistic influence probably plays a fueling factor in the kind of social, non-verbal behavior Indians exhibit among themselves. Even when they are being hospitable towards each other, the manner of their hospitality borders on force, coercion, and then even suspicion. It’s too much to get into right now.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, On Collectivism, Personal, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

 
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