Saturday, March 23, 2013

Journal Entry: A Flashback to Middle School, Male Relationships, and Homosexuality

To explain why the title says "Journal Entry": I have kept a written Journal, fairly consistently, since 7th grade, with gaps during 9th grade and the first three years of college. In 2011, I started to keep a typed Journal on my computer, so now I have the option of writing with pen or writing with a keyboard. Consequently, my computer Journal has become a repository of copy-pasted information I've come across on the Internet that I deem valuable.

I'll start this entry with one such quote:

“Although slavery is not uniformly condemned in either the Old or New Testaments, the sincere application of New Testament truths has repeatedly led to the elimination of its abusive tendencies. Where Christ’s love is lived in the power of His Spirit, unjust barriers and relationships are inevitably broken down. As the Roman empire disintegrated and eventually collapsed, the brutal, abused system of slavery collapsed with it—due in great measure to the influence of Christianity. ... New Testament teaching does not focus on reforming and re structuring human systems, which are never the root cause of human problems. The issue is always the heart of man—which when wicked will corrupt the best of systems and when righteous will improve the worst. If men’s sinful hearts are not changed, they will find ways to oppress others regardless of whether or not there is actual slavery.”
~ John MacArthur

And now here's the Journal entry I wrote on Wednesday, January 23 of this year. Brackets are used to remove personal information.


                        Flashback: back when mom, [my brother] and I visited the [Svensons](cousins to the [Smiths]) in Stockholm in either ’02 or ’04. We took a walk around their neighborhood, and one of the things I noticed was that there were stray rabbits living on the hillsides. That is, not normally wild animals, but ones that had been released. I remember seeing a small, cute, all-black bunny and [Johan] or [Gustav] explaining that to me. Later on that day, [Lisa], her brothers, [my brother] and I came across some other kids on a soccer field and played a match with them. We won. :) Oh, in the early part of our walk, [my brother] did some sort of air-skateboard (i.e. he didn’t have one; like air-guitar) jump off of a bench and cut up his knees. Which is classic [my brother], if you know about him as a kid. He was always getting scrapes. I have another memory, not because it’s particularly nostalgia-inducing, but because mom made a big deal of it and it stuck with me as a result. When we were walking up a hill to go back to their house, [Johan], I think, threw one of his arms around my shoulder and said something like ‘my gay brother.’ It was in the context of celebrating the soccer victory, so he was saying it not to mock. My reaction was to smile in a sort of grimace, but to shrug off his ‘hug.’ Mom and their mom was walking behind us, and she told me later that that was rude and shouldn’t have been so off-putting. But the reason why I (not very violently, but it was sort of a flinch (in Swedish, I would use the word “ryckning” to describe the motion)) pulled away was subconsciously ingrained, because in Middle School up to that point, kids had been very mean (also probably in Boy Scout Troop [###]) and had often used the word “gay” or “fag/faggot” or “queer” in a derogatory sense toward me. Also in an aggressive sense. The word for me was very closely associated with bad reputation, kids disliking me, and potential impending violence, so it didn’t strike me that [Johan] was intending to say something different; it came across differently to me. I think what he meant was something akin to ‘blood brother’ or just “bro” in general (that’s a term that, to my knowledge, has proliferated since that time, and wasn’t widely in use then). As in, to be so close friends with someone else that others might suspect you of being gay? Maybe that’s what he meant. Because he’s not gay himself, and there was no sexual innuendo or context in/to what he was saying. I just remember that particular moment as indicative of how pervasive the verbal bullying was among kids in middle school. It was, thankfully, much easier for me to deal with it because I’d gained immunity from being bullied back in 4th grade. It still resulted in me having little to no friends, nonetheless. Not ‘til later in high school, maybe 10th or 11th grade, did people seem to indicate a sort of respect for me, or that they knew who I was in a positive sense, not as a result of negative rumors. It’s funny, I seem to be repeating the early years of middle school, socially, now, in that sense [this is a reference to ostracism among my peers at my university because of expressing my Christian beliefs]. Anyway, if I were to sum this up, this is just one of the many ways in which homosexuality, and the stigma surrounding male closeness as a result of the former’s prevalence in society, has hindered male bonding in youth of this generation, and resulted in millions of boys and men with broken emotions and a stunted capacity for empathy or gentleness. I’ve sort of overcome it, myself. Knowing what the problem is helps. But you can’t undo the developments you went through in your formative years.



I recall reading something in an article a few years ago that explored that topic, and presented the idea that homosexual stigma has negatively impacted my generation, preventing us as boys from having the close sort of bonding relationships that we see displayed in antique American literature and film. When you see young boys be violent and aggressive, and when they grow older and can't form friendships with other men, then I hope you recognize that it's because they were taught from a young age--or pressured, rather--to avoid appearing to be effeminate, at all costs.

Far from leading to an endorsement of homosexuality, however, this is an important reason why it should not be mainstreamed. If mobbing from one's peers because you are timid or not inclined to be hyper-aggressive or assert yourself sexually is something that is already happening now, this would only increase when school systems attempt to encourage young boys to question their sexuality and to behave effeminately. Not to mention that the bullying from the aggressive ones would be stoked by resentment against punishment for violating the school rules on 'tolerance' towards anything that departs from what used to be heterosexual norms of behavior. I can't tell you how many times I've been told directly, or heard second-hand, a girl question a guy's sexuality for not behaving stereotypically masculine, which in today's world means that if an attractive woman is in your line of sight, you're expected to be sexually attracted, and, given the opportunity, to engage in sexual intercourse with her. Any deviation from this expected behavior earns you the sneering remark, "are you gay?" -- And much worse.

Here's something I recently wrote elsewhere on this topic, just to round out what I'm saying here:

Is accusing someone of being gay for not seeking heterosexual sex necessarily anti-gay or is it actually anti-straight? More to the point, is it more insulting to gays or to straight people who choose abstinence? Me being the latter, this is far more of an insult to straight people who hold to a moral standard of sexuality more strict than that of "most people," than it is an insult to someone who is homosexual. It implies that there is no legitimate reason to not want to have sex with someone except if you're gay. It objectifies men, declaring that so long as there's an attractive female in front of you, you're expected to want to have sex with her, and expected to actually follow through if given the opportunity. It's way more insensitive toward straight guys than gay guys.

Those who would mock you with suggestions that you are gay, merely for exercising restraint in saving yourself for marriage, are the same people who claim to be pro-gay-rights and who accuse you of homophobia for daring to hold the Biblical view that that which God calls perversion IS perversion.

If homosexuality continues to be mainstreamed, "anti-gay" language will not decrease, it will increase. But it will be directed toward straight males and Christians, primarily. The Biblical norm--the natural norm, even--has become the new deviancy. That which is outside the bounds of "typical" behavior (namely, abstinence and monogamy) is going to be viciously attacked until it vanishes from the public sphere.

It's already happening. What I'm saying here is hardly a prediction. Sometimes I wonder if there will be any virgins left, by the time I'm financially stable and ready to marry. I wonder if all the women will have given in to the pressure to adhere to the new normal. So I've had to seriously consider the possibility of a lifetime of singleness, though I long for marriage. I might not get what I want. Now isn't that a radical thought?

If you are a man with the power and position to influence young boys (8-16), I encourage you -- I speak from my heart, knowing my own experiences -- do your best to model male behavior and show them that being a man does not mean you can't be gentle, caring and loving. Show them that a real man is one who is slow to anger and honors women, and isn't afraid of what other men  say about him in public or private.

I don't know what else to say. But I hope that something I've said here has been of value to one of you. 

~ Rak Chazak

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