Thursday, November 26, 2009


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am NOT a "threat to the youth"!

"Kung mag-uwan, bayot pasanginlan.
Kung mag-bagyo, bayot pasanginlan.
Kung mag-linog, bayot pasanginlan.
Bayot, bayot, bayot...
Unsay tan-aw ninyo namo...

I am stunned, hurt, and angry at the Commission of Elections’ (COMELEC) decision to disqualify Ang Ladlad - a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization for party - list accreditation for the 2010 national elections on the grounds of "sexual immorality that offends religious beliefs" and “not compromising the well-being of the greater number of the Filipino people, especially the youth” because "older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth."

A lot of articles and positions have been written about the breach of the secular-religious divide. But only few, if none, argued about the “painfully obsolete ideas” – borrowing Danton Remoto’s words – that homosexuals are a threat to the youth.

As a psychologist and as an LGBT researcher and counselor, this part crushed my heart the most. I am gay. I knew and accepted my gayness since I was 10 years old. If that was the birth of my homosexual identity, then I am already a 20 year old “practicing homosexual”. Now, I feel accused of being a threat to the youth.

But what does it mean to be a threat to the youth?

COMELEC added in a footnote, "The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being."

Almost more than 35 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 1980), a decision that has been strongly supported by the American Psychological Association or APA (2004).

Homosexuality is NOT a mental illness and is NOT an abnormal aspect of human sexuality. There have been no reliable researches on homosexual orientation impairing psychological functioning. In fact, what researches have shown is exposure to prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation may cause a homosexual person acute distress (Mays & Cochran, 2001; Meyer, 2003).

I quote APA’s stand on lesbians, gays, and bisexual people:
Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding. Therefore, these mainstream organizations long ago abandoned classifications of homosexuality as a mental disorder. (APA, 2008)
Nakakahawa ba ako? Nakakahawa ba ang pagka-bading, like an AH1N1 virus? Do I turn someone’s sexual orientation to homosexual by just being or interacting with me?

I grew up with heterosexual parents and three heterosexual brothers. How come their sexuality did not turn me heterosexual? Unfortunately, (or more fortunately for me because I can not imagine myself having a heterosexual life), heterosexuality is NOT contagious. And since heterosexuality and homosexuality are in the same continuum, homosexuality is ALSO NOT contagious.

Studies on same sex parenting and their children have shown that sexual identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in much the same way among children of same sex parents as they do among children of opposite sex parents (Patterson, 2000, 2004a; Perrin, 2002; Tasker, 1999).

In terms of gender identity (Ano ba ako, babae, lalake, o di tiyak?), children of same sex parents reported that they were happy with their gender and that they had no wish to be a member of the opposite sex (Golombok, Spencer, & Rutter, 1983; Green, Mandel, Hotvedt, Gray, & Smith, 1986).

In terms of gender-role behaviors (Babae ako, gusto ko na ng Barbie o Cars?), there was no difference between children of same sex parents versus opposite sex parents in toy preferences, activities, interests, or occupational choices (Brewaeys et al., 1997).

In terms of sexual orientation (Bading ang tatay ko, maging bading din kaya ako?), studies show that a great majority of offspring of both lesbian mothers and gay fathers described themselves as heterosexual. Ninety percent (90%) of adult sons of gay fathers reported to be heterosexual (Bailey et al, 1995). In another study, no children of lesbian mothers identified themselves as lesbian or gay, but one child of a heterosexual mother did (Huggins,1989).

Sa madaling salita, ang pagka-bading ay di nakakahawa!

But the COMELEC is not only talking about sexual identity but also other aspects of personal development.

Again studies on same sex parenting and their children have shown that there are no major differences in self-concept, personality, moral judgments, intelligence and social relationships (Golombok, Tasker, & Murray, 1997; Gottman, 1990; Reese, 1979; Green et al., 1986; Patterson, 1994a; Tasker, 1999; Stacey & Biblarz, 2001; Perrin, 2002).

I have been teaching psychology for a total of eight years to college students in top universities of Manila and Cebu. I have been doing counseling to heterosexual children and adults for two years now.

I have received letters, notes, and praises from my students and clients telling me how they have learned so much from me. They thanked me of the positive impact I had on their self concept & esteem, personality, and their well-being. My sexuality was never an issue to them and their development. Some of them even admired my openness and genuineness.

If I am a threat to the youth, I must have turned more than 3,000 students gay and dysfunctional!

I, as a teacher, understand the vital role of the youth in nation building and the responsibility to promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being.

But let me ask this question back to you, Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucineto Tagle, and Elias Yusoph: what message are you telling the youth now about equality, diversity, and love?

Unlike the COMELEC who used only two websites as references, I use scientific journals and books. Who do you think is more reliable and valid?
American Psychiatric Association. (1980). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychological Association. (2004). Policy statements on sexual orientation, parents, and children.. Retrieved November 23, 2009, from

American Psychological Association. (2008). Answers to your questions: For a better understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality. Retrieved November 23, 2009 from

Bailey, J. M., Bobrow, D.,Wolfe, M., & Mikach, S. (1995). Sexual orientation of adult sons of gay fathers. Developmental Psychology, 31, 124–129.

Brewaeys, A., & Van Hall, E. V. (1997). Lesbian motherhood: The impact on child development and family functioning. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 18, 1–16.

Green, R., Mandel, J. B., Hotvedt, M. E., Gray, J., & Smith, L. (1986). Lesbian mothers and their children: A comparison with solo parent heterosexual mothers and their children. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7, 175–181.

Golombok, S., Tasker, F. L., & Murray, C. (1997). Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: Family relationships and the socioemotional development of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 783–791.

Gottman, J. S. (1990). Children of gay and lesbian parents. In F. W. Bozett & M. B. Sussman (Eds.), Homosexuality and family relations (pp. 177–196). New York: Harrington Park Press.

Huggins, S. L. (1989). A comparative study of self esteem of adolescent children of divorced lesbian mothers and divorced heterosexual mothers. In F.W. Bozett (Ed.), Homosexuality and the family (pp. 123–135). New York: Harrington Park Press.

Mays, V. M., & Cochran, S. D. (2001). Mental health correlates of perceived discrimination among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 1869-1876.

Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674-697.

Patterson, C.J. (2004a). Lesbian and gay parents and their children: Summary of research findings. In Lesbian and gay parenting: A resource for psychologists. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Perrin, E. C., and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health (2002). Technical Report: Coparent or second-parent adoption by same-sex parents. Pediatrics, 109, 341 - 344.

Reese, R. L. (1979). A comparison of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers on three measures of socialization. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, California School of Professional Psychology, Berkeley, CA.

Stacey, J. & Biblarz, T.J. (2001). (How) Does sexual orientation of parents matter? American Sociological Review, 65, 159-183.

Tasker, F. (1999). Children in lesbian-led families - A review. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 4, 153 - 166.

Monday, September 28, 2009

i will be a diva, i will be a queen.

My best friend said that if one is confused of his or her career vocation, one only needs to remember the games he or she played during childhood. For example, when she was a child, she remembers playing hotel and resort manager with her sister. Now, she still hopes to become one… at least for a day.

For me, this is very easy. Growing up, I pretended to be a teacher. At home, in Cebu, we have this big blackboard in our hallway and every night after school, I would be a teacher to ten imaginary students. The routine: I would have a notebook in hand and a wooden ruler. (In retrospect, teachers in our class bring wooden rulers or long sticks!) Then, from one side of the house towards the hallway, I would slowly walk and demurely move my head, side to side, imagining saying hello to grade 5 or grade 6 students (or when I was older to high school students). And before I enter the hallway, I would sign my initials to a posted paper on a wall as I pretend to check the attendance for the day. For a few seconds, I would wait. And, in my mind, my students scrambled to stand up. I imagined a student hurriedly hiding his book under the table and quickly fixing his polo as he moves. And another student, looking surprise that I am already in the doorway, discreetly hides among his classmates as he hastily moves from one side of the room to the opposite side where he is supposed to be standing right beside his seat!

I do not remember if I start the class with a prayer, but most probably I did. What I distinctly remember is how my students greet me. I would say out aloud (not minding if my brothers, yaya, or even my parents would hear), “Good morning class.” And in my mind, my students would answer, “Good morning (with the intonation), Miss Teban… (again with the intonation).” =)

My childhood play has translated into an adult career. To those people who know me (and read my blog), I have been teaching Psychology for seven years now. And I know, without any doubt, this is where I belong, this is what I want to do. (Of course, my college students never greet me with the intonation and definitely they never dared to call me Miss Teban.)

But, also growing up, there was another pretend play that I did. This was not as public as my previous play. It never happened in the hallway with my parents, brothers, or yayas to see. It happened in closed and locked room. From my drawer, I would get my green triangular bandana and just like a nun’s veil, I would place it over my head as I tie another handkerchief to serve as a headband. It might not be natural hair for you, but all I can remember is that I feel pretty with my shoulder length green hair. Then, undressing to my underwear, I would get my favorite yellow butterfly blanket and would tightly wrap it around my slim body and make a beautiful knot over my chest. I do not remember a name that I called myself. I was somehow comfortable with my name… Teban.

The routine? I would walk from one corner of the room to the other corner like a Ms. Universe candidate. I would stop just in front of the mirror and wave to my imaginary audience. For my talent portion, I would dance the Sinulog- two steps forward, one step backward - with the sound of the drums beating inside my head.

But the most memorable part was when I lip sync my favorite Broadway song. And I would sing, “Do you want one more tale of a Vietnam Girl… Want to know I was bound to the man that I don’t love… Want to be told how my village was burned…” Cliche, but yes, I have pretended to have won the crown.

Two weekends ago, I watched a drag show. They lip sync to classics’ “Dreamgirls” and “And I am Telling You” They danced to Chicago’s “All that Jazz” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”. And I could just imagine the looked on my face that night. I was entertained, happy, and amazed - like a kid watching his first magic show! My right foot tapped, my fingers snapped and my head giggle and swayed. I think it could have been a beginning of what Billy Elliot describes as “Electricity”.

Somewhere, deep in my heart, something triggered. I was moved, ignited but also envious. I suddenly miss my childhood. I knew that I can do what they can do too. I think I will be a natural. Of course, I would have to practice, train, lose weight and think about my repertoire. I am thinking of doing musicals – Wicked’s “Defying Gravity”, Chicago’s “Roxie” – and maybe add some Lady Gaga’s “Poker face” and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary”. Oh gosh, endless possibilities! (And of course, watching GLEE is adding to this fantasy.)

That night, I thought that maybe if being a psychologist will not work for me (I am getting tired of this part-time situation) then maybe I will have to consider exploring another career. Not ending what I have now, but more of an addition. I would like to be an entertainer, a diva, a drag queen.

That same night, I also felt nostalgic and sad. I feel that (currently) a big gay part of me is missing or maybe suppressed. I miss my out, proud, funny, irreverent, and loud self. Morag, gimingaw lang gyud ko sa akong pagkabayot. Ana lang. Kasabot mo sa akong gipasabot? Kita na mo nako na nagbinayot? Dili kanang miyat na Teban na bayot, kanang Teban na bayot na bayot? Gimingaw ko ana na Teban. (Interestingly, there must be a Psychology behind how I can only express my gayness in Cebuano and not in English or in Filipino!)

And that night, I wish I was transported back in 2004, when I was with my Edgework Theater Company (ETC) family -- with Butch, Sheng, Carmel, Mara, Azela, and my ex-boyfriend, B. I think they have seen that gay part of me. Better yet, I think they accept and love that gay part of me. I know they miss that part of me. I miss that part of me.

My secret childhood play did translate into a career for a few days in 2004. There was no singing and dancing though, only acting. I portrayed Jaymee, a Japayuki transgender, in ETC’s Bus Terminal. My ETC family, some of my students, friends, and my Mom were there to see me. I had real long hair that I can bun with a chopstick. My cheeks were blushed, lips were glossed red, eyes were lined, and eyelashes were extended.

I heard funny stories about me that night. A friend, who was in the audience, shared to me that she overheard one student saying, “He reminds me of my Psych teacher, Sir Teban.” My friend turns around and told her, “That is Teban.” I guessed they were shocked.

After the show, I thought that it was over, a role-fantasy fulfilled. That was also the last time I played drag. It was the last time I played. But now, I sense a calling. I sense a need. I sense me, outing, freeing, then flying!

My current life here is… very… “proper”. I do admit that I am scared - scared that M. might not accept that part of me, scared that the schools I worked for might not give me a teaching load for next semester, scared that people will laugh at me… scared of not being accepted.

But for tonight, as a short term solution, I will lock my door, find a bandana in my drawer, I will play. With my makeshift gown, I will look at myself in the mirror, I will turn the music on and lip sync to Effie White’s “I Am Changing”.

One day, I promise, after a long day of teaching and counseling work, I will be an entertainer, I will be a diva, I will be a queen.