Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
April 7th, 2005
High School


Eating my own dogfood

About a month ago, I complained that our school was not adequately addressing issues of non-racial discrimination. So yesterday, I was obliged to eat my own dogfood – that’s programmer’s lingo for actually using what you create – and attended the HAC meeting on homophobia.

I was glad to see that a decent number of students actually cared enough to come. Maybe it means that the stigma of guilt by association doesn’t factor so much in the minds of the students here after all.

One of the topics that was discussed, the reasons for not “coming out of the closet,” actually applies to many aspects of life, even for heterosexuals. We’re talking about peer pressure here, after all.

Back when I went to St. Columban, we were always implored to sing along during Mass. Of course, no one cared for their pleas. But I loved to sing Church songs – always have, since I could barely walk.

But ever since I could barely walk, I’ve also been shy. Especially in elementary school, certain activities are simply ruled off-limits for boys: they’re not manly enough. There’s no way I would’ve ever sung in church if it hadn’t been for a couple of my friends, who just happened to not mind singing.

However, I would only sing when they were sitting right next to me. Being a shy person, I needed that kind of support. When the teachers would decide to seat us in a different configuration, the utter silence would cow me into sitting there, just staring at the songbook. (No pun intended – seriously!)

I congratulate those who have come out of the closet already, notably Eric, not because the student population-at-large has an unalienable right to know everyone’s orientation, but because they showed a level of bravery that I know I’ve never really demonstrated.

Before anyone suspects me of anything, let me point out that if there’s one thing that I detest about our society, it’s this guilt by association thing. I’m heterosexual, thank-you-very-much. But I notice that whenever anyone ever brings up the topic of homosexuality or homophobia, someone in the crowd always questions their motives.

I was asked many times at St. Columban whether I was in fact homosexual, just because I was friends with a girl – a taboo in those days. (Boy things have changed…) I was asked the same thing many times at St. X, because I didn’t mind having a conversation with an out-of-the-closetter. (Gotta love euphemisms…)

Last year, someone on my bus came up to me and warned me about the person I often had conversations with. He heard rumors that they weren’t “straight.” Of course, I had already known about this “rumor” for three years. When I reassured him that I was heterosexual, he wanted to know how I would react if the person in question were to ever approach me, so to speak. Wouldn’t I be uncomfortable? Wouldn’t I hate him for that?

It might not be with malintent that many tend to label people based on who they hang around with, or based on what issues they find important enough to discuss, or that they have to ask these kinds of questions. But the fact that so many people do this until their assumptions are contridicted suggests that we as a society are *phobic.

Then again, my way of dealing with people has always been somewhat passive, nonagressive, non-confrontational. Who am I to tell someone that their very psyche is wrong, immoral, and dirty? I myself am no angel.