Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sexual Orientation & Sexual Identity: A Response

Ayan, a 16 year old college student, wrote to Migs, Migs posted Ayan’s letter last December 27 titled: “Straight ako when I was in high school, but now…”

Migs asked me to give my opinion as a counseling psychologist. My response was published in the same website on March 29, 2010 titled: Counseling Psychologists Responds to Ayan. I asked Migs if I can repost it in my blog. He said yes. So here it is. Read on. =)

* * * *

Hi Migs!

I am fond of reading your blog.

I am Ayan. Straight ako when I was in high school, I’m sure of that. Marami akong naging girlfriend nun. Until one time, I need to have a tutorial in Math because of my low grades. So, I went to my tutor’s apartment at around 6pm. He is one of the best math teachers in my school by that time, but he didn’t handle our class. I am well-known in our school, that’s why he offered me his help.

Malakas ung ulan nung gabing nun, I didn’t bring my umbrella so I got wet. When I entered his apartment, he told me to take off my clothes— baka daw sipunin ako. Hinubad ko naman kasi ok lang naman siguro un parehas naman kaming lalake, walang malisya un.

Instead of reviewing, nagkwentuhan lang kami.Nakaupo kami sa kama niya then he asked me to turn off the lights, nagtaka ako kung bakit. I didn’t turn it off. Sabi nia sa kin wala daw mangyayari kung hindi ko papatayin ung ilaw. Nagtaka na talaga ako and I decided to go home pero sabi niya wag muna daw, malakas pa ung ulan. So, I stayed.

Nagjoke siya tapos tawa kami ng tawa, then he started to bite my ears tapos ung lips niya umabot na sa neck ko and he kissed it. I begin to feel uncomfortable, dinaganan niya ko tapos hinalikan niya ko on my face, then lips, pababa until he lick and suck my cock. I don’t know what to do. I tried to stop him, pero nakadagan siya sa kin. Gusto ko sumigaw pero iniisip ko na nakakahiya sa mga tao if they knew why I am shouting…

I dont have any idea about gay sex that time. Hindi ko un nagustuhan. I was the only one naked, kaya I immediately took my shirt and pants. I told him that I will go home. pagkauwi ko, nagshower ako agad. Parang nandidiri ako. I keep it as a secret, kasi nahihiya ako sa outcome kapag nagsumbong ako baka kumalat. I noticed na maraming kiss mark ung leeg ko. Kinabukasan, napansin un lahat ng classmates ko. Sabi ko allergy. pero sabi nila chikinini daw. This happened 3 years ago.

Nasalubong ko si sir sa corridor, then nagsorry siya sa kin. Nabigla lang daw siya. I accepted his apology. From then on, hindi ko na siya kinausap o kaya pinansin. kung dati nalilibugan ako sa babae, ngayon parang sa lalake na. Naging habit ko na ung panunuod ng gay porn. Pinigilan ko ung sarili ko but I cant control it.

Hindi ko alam kung ano na ko ngayon, there is confusion. I am now 16 years old, a 1st year college student in a prominent university. Parang nagbago ung buhay ko, hindi na ko lumalabas ng nakahubad or nakasando.naiilang na rin ako sa mga lalakeng nakahubad. siguro na-trauma ako sa mga nangyari. Even my closest friends don’t know about this experience. Nakikipagchat ako ngayon with the same sex…flirt. I don’t know if I’m into relationship, malay natin…

Thanks Migz for letting me share my story. God bless you.
- Ayan

* * * *

Hi Ayan.

I am Niel and I am a friend of Migs. Migs forwarded your letter to me so that your concerns will be properly addressed. I am a counseling psychologist by profession and I hope you do not mind if I answer some of your questions.

Ayan, having the courage to share your story is very commendable. Stories of sexual abuse are often kept in silence with more men than women keeping it a secret.

Story-telling has psychological benefits for the storyteller and the listener (or reader). For the story-teller, it allows one to organize and integrate thoughts and feelings, and in turn, facilitates a sense of predictability and control over one’s life and a temporary emotional resolution. For the reader, it gives us a sense of connection and understanding of the experience. Most importantly for those readers who are hiding in the closet with the same secret, it gives one a sense of “kadamay” since sexual abuse is one of many painful and potentially traumatic experiences that a human being may suffer in childhood.

While I was reading your letter, I felt the discomfort, the “hiya”, the “diri”, and the shame when your classmates teased you of the kiss marks you had. Although you ended the letter with a sense of temporary relief by disclosing your story, I sensed the confusion and questions about your sexual identity.

So you questioned if the abuse was the reason for your homosexual desires?

The answer is not that simple. Sexual abuse has negative effects but it depends on a variety of factors. But international clinical case studies have shown that long term effects of sexual abuse are related to confusion and distress about their sexuality and to the development of sexual identity.

In these studies, survivors reported being confused about their sexual orientation (Nasjleti, 1980; Dimock, 1988; Lew, 1988; Myers, 1989; Gilgun & Reiser, 1990), reported fear that the sexual abuse has caused or will cause them to become homosexual (Nasjleti, 1980; Finkelhor, 1984; Dimock, 1988; Gilgun & Reiser, 1990; Lew, 1988; Myers, 1989), and expressed homophobia – having negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality and to people who identified or perceived to be homosexual.

Personally though, I hypothesize that child sexual abuse interferes (nakakadiskaril) with sexual identity development but, on the other hand, I also believe that it does NOT doom people to live in unconventional sexual lives and identities.

Maybe at this point, it is good to define, clarify, and differentiate sexuality terms like sexual orientation and sexual identity.

Sexual orientation refers to a pattern of romantic attraction (who do you fall in love with?), sexual attraction (who do you have erotic desires and sexual contact with?), and commitment to monogamous romantic and sexual relationship (who do you have relationships with?). Usually, sexual orientation has three categories: heterosexual (to the opposite sex), homosexual (to same sex), and bisexual (to both sexes) with these orientations existing along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexual to exclusive homosexual, including various forms of bisexuality in-between (American Psychological Association).

So I would like for you to imagine a scale from 1 to 7: 1 means exclusively to the opposite sex, 4 means equal amount of in both sexes, and 7 means exclusively to the same sex.

In your letter, you described that you are experiencing sexual attractions with the same sex “Kung dati nalilibugan ako sa babae, ngayon parang sa lalake na. Naging habit ko na ung panunuod ng gay porn… naiilang na rin ako sa mga lalakeng nakahubad”

So if you are to rate yourself from 1 to 7 in terms of sexual attraction, what will be your answer? I guess it will be a 5 or 6.

Now, also think about your rating on the other two components. You did not mention about who you will fall in love with but you are open to experiences of possible same sex love “Nakikipagchat ako ngayon with the same sex… flirt” and relationships “I don’t know if I’m into relationship, malay natin…”

See, knowing one’s sexual orientation is not just simple categorization!

This confusion is actually developmentally appropriate for an adolescent boy like you. And as you grow older and in the next few years
(or even months!), you will learn who you will fall in love with and who you will commit to. The American Psychological Association added, “some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime”.

On the other hand, sexual identity is really a comprehensive process of subjective self definition as heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, gay, lesbian, queer, undecided, bi-curious, or asexual! It involves one’s biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity (the innermost sense of being a male or female), gender roles (the socially acceptable behaviors assigned to males, like being masculine, and females, like being feminine), and other factors like defining one’s sexual needs, values, and preferences for sexual activities. Sometimes, one’s sexual identity may or may not match one’s sexual orientation! Closeted individuals are sometimes referred to people who have a homosexual sexual orientation but may define themselves as heterosexuals.

Although, personally, I believe that there is an inherent biological component in sexual orientation but it is also your future experiences, preferences, and choices that will shape your sexual identity.

Ayan, although we are sexual beings, we are more than our sexual identities. You are 16 years old and one major developmental task you need to accomplish is to establish a sense of self in which your past (including the abuse), present (being a student in a prominent university), and future (the goals you have for yourself) are integrated.

If you need to talk about what happened and if you need someone to help you make sense of your sexual identity and your self-concept in general, do not hesitate to ask Migs for my contact information. I believe what Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, said, “All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”

God bless you too.


trina said...

to ayan, migs, niel,

thank you for this. this post is, for me, eye-opening in many ways. i hope all's well with ayan now.

Teban said...

Thank you for your comment, trina. I am glad (and I think Migs and Ayan are glad too) that it helped you see many things differently.

I personally believe that the root of prejudice and discrimination is ignorance. =) Thus, this blog is a personal advocacy of mine too and I am very happy that I am able to achieve my advocacy through you. Thank you again.

I also hope Ayan is ok now.

dwengster said...

I've read somewhere that most victims of sexual assault end up blaming themselves if they're lost too much to their private thoughts... which should not be. The people around them should always point out to them that they're the victims and should not be held accountable to what the other person did to them.

I hope Ayan would continue to seek counseling, even if it's just peer counseling. He's still young so does not yet have full cognizance of his true sexual orientation. He should be allowed to further explore it to better understand and eventually place himself in a happier plane of existence.