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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Differentiating Homosexuality From Effeminacy

It may sound odd, but I think Christine Bersola-Babao actually did all of us a favor with her now (in)famous piece about children, (male) homosexuality and parenting: she highlighted much of this country's confusion regarding two terms that are often interchanged: (male) homosexuality and effeminacy.

Parenting advice?
(Courtesy of

We only need to look at the reactions that Bersola-Babao is facing right now, after her recent column piece entitled Being Gay came out in The Philippine Star.

Together with the "expert" advice given by Dr. Camille Garcia, a "noted psychologist," they gave the following summary about homosexuality (specifically if a child is "showing early signs of being gay") as it relates to parenting.

1. Gayness is not a plague.
2. When faced with it, "arrest the situation."
3. "Hindi kasi tama ang makasama sa buhay at magpapamilya ay parehas na lalaki."
4. "Kung ayaw mo itama ang ginugusto mo, hindi namin matatanggap yun."
5. "Remember, you can have effeminate ways, but you never desire men."

Bersola-Babao then relates how her own son had once shown an interest in his sister's "girly toys," (her very words) which further illustrates this confusion, that what we culturally determine to be "masculine" or "feminine" has been taken to be some form of indicator of a person's sexual orientation. In this case, a son that isn't even in grade school.

Talk about early sexualization: Why is this pair - columnist and psychologist - so patently intense about determining a child's sexual orientation?

Your hairstyle, clothing, toy preference, all of these have nothing to do with the sex of the person who sexually arouses you. Homosexuality is sexual attraction to the same sex: nothing more, nothing less. I would have expected Garcia to clearly define this - instead she talks about her faith and why homosexuality is to be discouraged. As far as I know (from my undergraduate days), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) - the "bible" of mental health professionals - does not classify homosexuality as an illness.

Is it too much to hope on my part that a clinical psychologist refer to facts instead of her faith when making professional pronouncements?

Bersola entitled her piece "Being Gay" - an indication that in some part of her mind, Bersola-Babao knows that homosexuality is a state of being; it therefore surprises me that she listed all the things "wrong" about it, in the same way it would if anyone tried to tell me about the "cons" of left-handedness or being black. (Incidentally, both those "conditions" were also demonized in various points in history, and isn't it amazing how the Christian Bible has also been used to justify those stances?)

She ends her piece by saying that "it is God who will judge us."

How I wish she listened to her own conclusion, as her entire piece reeked of judgement and disapproval, with the caveat that parents will always accept their children. And I have serious misgivings about any psychologist who would give a professional recommendation with her Christian faith as one of the basis for it.

Until we can get our terms correctly, might I suggest that columnists and psychologists (!) refrain from making public statements that not only are lacking in recognition of academic nuances, but give the appearance of credibility, just because it appears in a national broadsheet.


  1. A responsible journalist must have known that gender issues are a very sensitive topic. any one who choose to publish an article should give second thoughts on what they are writing unless a writer would really take sides and forget neutrality. in that way, you will really be put to a pedestal. as for the psychologist, she should've site objective and clear cut definitions coming from clinical studies.

  2. Nice blog. Do you mind if we exchange links? :D