There are some things we can’t change. And there are some, we can. Pepper Lim writes about how he overcame his own ignorance through Love and Acceptance.
I grew up with a deep religious conviction and at the age of 12 sought to understand the different religions surrounding me. I finally chose Christianity as I thought it was the most suitable religion for me. At the age of 20, I received my degree in theological studies from a bible college in Australia.
My anti-homosexual stance came from a mixture of the fear of my father that his sons would turn out to be sissies and biblical anti-gay scriptures. When were were children, my father would shout at my brother and I, “Stop giggling like girls!” and “Stop crying like a sissy!”
The bible played the biggest role; offering the torments of hell and the lake of fire to homosexuals and other sexual perverts. I distanced myself from gays and lesbians and generally could not stand being in their company. It made me squirm inside to watch limp-wrist men and butch women. I have always enjoyed actor Kevin Kline’s performances but felt sick inside when he kissed Tom Selleck in “In & Out”.
I broke up with a girl because she confessed she kissed another girl while we were together. I thought I did the right Christian-thing. Today, I realise I was unbelievably self-righteous. I regret that and I am glad I managed to apologise to her many years later.
Then, a video changed it all.
While baby-sitting my friend Dr. Khairuddin Yusof’s home when he was away, I helped myself to his video collection. One video had a scraggly looking cowboy on the cover, entitled “Southern Comfort”. The first few minutes of the video gave me the impression it was a B-grade cowboy movie.
By and by, it turned out to be a documentary on the life of a female-to-male transsexual named Robert Eads. He was born a woman, married a man and gave birth to two children, later divorced and transformed into a man. His journey of self-actualisation was difficult, painful, confusing, but most of all, touching. Watching Robert’s struggle to transform from a woman to man and being denied medical treatment by cowardly doctors were particularly painful. This documentary opened the doors of my mind and made me realise transsexuals is natural. It is not a fad nor a choice. It is not wrong nor immoral. It is what it is: natural. And I am glad I am OK with it now. This video also led me to the same realisation about homosexuality.
Dr Khairuddin who has treated numerous trans-gender patients, opened my eyes further with his frank explanation into the psychology of such unfortunate people.
A few years ago, I contacted my old pastor, Brian J. Baker. He inspired me to attend bible school. As it turns out, he has since left the church and was now living openly as a homosexual! I should have been appalled and sickened. Instead, I congratulated him and wished him well. He is gay and I am OK. He is now in his 70’s and his life’s story of suppressing his true self was sad. He explained, in the 1960’s people thought homosexuality was a mental illness and one cure was electrotherapy! To escape electroshock treatment, he did what society expected of him: he got married and had children, and lived a heterosexual life.
I cannot imagine being unfortunate to be born with a mismatched body or with a mismatched brain. I cannot imagine struggling to conform to society’s expectations. But I am glad to realise people should be left to be who they are instead of being dictated so.
Today, my homosexual and transsexual friends find it surprising that I had such a homophobic past. I am happy to note that I am no different from them. I am very, very glad to be friends with them.
Homophobia is by no means eradicated from society but there is now one less homophobic idiot: me.
PS. Roberth Eads died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53 and was denied medical treatment by a dozen doctors who did not want to harm their practice. Idiots.
This is written in conjunction with 29 WAYS: A Homophobia-Free Malaysia, to be launched on 29 May 2011.
Pepper Lim was once a very religious and anti-homosexual person who condemned homosexuals. Today he is thankful for the forgiveness from those whom he condemned. He has two beautiful young children and promises they will grow up to be whatever they want to be. He also has plans to make his parents proud.