The Terrible Cost of Saying ‘No’ To The Gay Community
November 6, 2007
I am reminded in life, there is always a cost to everything. During my averagely miserable university days, I loathed the body of knowledge known as fluid dynamics. To exacerbate matters, I hated the lecturer and considered him an incoherent fool, enough to I skipped every single one of his lectures and seminars. Neither did the subject endear it’self to me despite my best efforts, all it did was induce a semi-comatose state. In all honesty fluid dynamics held as much allure as perusing through the compendium of urination techniques. By some miracle, I can only describe as the mother of all providence. I managed to ace the paper after using my Shamanic skills to successfully spot 6 out of 7 examination questions. Fast forward to working life today, whenever the subject of fluid dynamics crops up, that’s the cue for me to slink off for a cigarette or another toilet break – yes, I am reminded there’s a cost to everything and it seems there’s no possible way of closing the gap now – it just comes back to bite you.
Recently, when I watched the parliamentary debate on S377A on TV – I couldn’t help feeling that same sinking sensation. You know the same one that leaves one mumbling, what’s the cost to all of this?
That’s to say, what’s the real cost of saying ‘no’ to the gay community? I know that I should be focused on the jurisprudential, ethical and moral issues of the 377A debate, but for some reason, my mind kept on turning on the first hurdle issues – cost, cost and cost.
Well before diving into the subject in earnest, let me just say that as far as the gay community goes. They’re an international fraternity roughly 3 to 4 times larger than the Illuminati, Opus Dei, Freemasons and the Mickey Mouse club combined together. When you consider some of the greatest thinkers in human history such as Alan Turing, Leonardo Da Vinci, Alexander the Great and Oscar Wilde were gays – if you are gay, you’re probably in good company and they all pack roughly the same intellectual punch as probably the entire ivy league alumni and the Mensa society put together. So let’s get one thing straight, when one says, ‘no’ to the gay community or tribe – you’re are not saying ‘no’ to some motley crew of cross dressers who regularly cruise around Changi Village – they are a veritable super power, a force to be reckoned with under every definition of the word ‘power’ and if you are still in doubt, you have to be dumber than dumb!
Now let’s get down to the brass tacks. The problem is calculating the cost of saying ‘no’ to the gay community may not be as straight forward as it seems, only because much of the aggregate cost remains invisible. That of course doesn’t mean, we can’t trace out the rough outlines of the fall out.
The first ‘cost’ is many of us wouldn’t be seen dead with a gay. Hey, lets be honest, if I was let’s say, a teacher aspiring to climb up the ram-rod ladder would I be seen going out for a two hour lunch with a gay colleague? No fear lah. This scenario of induced fear or kiasuim incident exemplifies the kind of cost, I am talking about.
It’s damaging because it scissors through the fabric of human relationships. That’s what happens when gayness is criminalized, anyone who even remotely goes near to it is guilty by sheer association. Since associating with gays can get one tarred and feathered, prudent folk would regularly avoid been seen with them. The danger of course is on the surface at least, everyone plumbs towards the conformists line.
If this reminds you of McCarthyism’s “Silence of Fear” that’s precisely what it is – till today, sociologist are shifting through the debris of the social Chernobyl that once course through the America psyche in the 60′s – the cost is astronomical!
Not only did McCarthyism hollow out meaningful political dissent but along the way everything else went down the chute, it withered away the creative and innovative enterprises, arts, culture and even the sciences - because no one wanted to be associated with anyone who could be labeled a social reactionary.
The question is whether the gay tag can be equated to a form of McCarthyism? Well not exactly, but the whole discourse relating to why to gay’s should not be recognized does go a long way towards institutionalizing the whole idea of gayness as being a character defect that is both undesirable and even a bane to society. The real question to paraphrase should be; whether being pronounced gay is an oblique equivalent of McCarthyism? Well, it really hinges on whether being gay affects employment and promotional opportunities? And how it goes on to affect the lives of not only gays but those who choose to associate with them and beyond – like I said earlier, the cost is hard if not impossible to quantify.
The statistics are imprecise. Even if there were cold cut numbers and charts to flesh out what I just said. It still doesn’t go very far to give us a handle on the real cost of saying ‘no’ to the gay community.
It may do well, at this point to reflect on the apparently low number of whippings administered under slavery in the South in 18th Century America to realize that it may not be necessary to whip many slaves to keep the rest of the plantation in line – that in real terms is the cost, much remains tacit and accountable only in our heads – the to be or not to be calculus.
Quantification aside, it may be helpful to stick to the analogy of McCarthyism only because it provides us with a lens of how far it actually permeated the psyche of the average American? Such an appraisal, tentative though it must be offers insights into the extent of the damage saying ‘no’ to the gay community is able to produce in the psyche of the average Singaporean. Granted it’s a rickety model, but hey what did you expect from 20 minutes of filler time typing on my Nokia while waiting for a client who can’t even be bothered to keep time?
“We should keep in mind, like the cost of saying ‘no’ to the gay community McCarthyism’s most corrosive impact may well have been in what did not happen rather than in what actually happened. The personal relationships that were never forged – the friendships that were never allowed to grow from strength to strength - the conversations that never past from the realm of theory to reality – the books that were never penned and the plays that were never staged – the list of ‘nevers’ – ‘could haves’ – and ‘missed opportunities’ goes on and on Senators. The price I feel is too high for any thinking man to bear and I for one will rue the real cost as one that we shall never ever know for what could have been, but was never allowed to be – surely that must be a criminal waste!…this is not wise….not wise at all……gentlemen, I move for a motion to strike.”
Primus Aldentes Prime / Great Hall / 3rd Nov 2007.
(By Darkness – Sociol / Political – EP 992729167 – Brotherhood Press Articles 2007)
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