Peter Hayat’s Response to AUB’s Homophobic Outlook Article
Response to Viewpoint: Please me at any Price, written By Mohamad Sibai and published in Outlook
“That they may have life and have it more abundantly” a motto that has been adopted by one of the top institutions in the Middle East for higher education, the American University of Beirut. As I reflect on the meaning of “abundance” and more specifically on the abundance in life, I find it echoing what was meant by John 10:10b in the New Testament of the Bible: an abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, body, and soul, a joy that cannot be achieved except through digging within ourselves, and reaching to that common ground with every human, where we can be in peace with God and His creations.
I remain stunned though, for knowing about the article that has been recently published in “Outlook”, AUB’s Official Student Newspaper, which should normally reflect AUB’s culture and honorable history, especially when it comes to human rights protection, I am talking about the 19 AUB alumni which were delegates to the signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945, proudly more than any other university in the world. 67 years later, it is a shame to see hatred, intolerance, and social phobia being published in AUB so freely, in a “viewpoint”, that is not “pleasing at any price”, especially that it reminds us, how far behind we’re still lagging in Lebanon, when it comes to respect, dignity and equality to all, basic rights entitled to every living human being.
From the first paragraph, Mr Mohamad Sibai, shared with his readers his misunderstanding of the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Well, yes, gays can have short hair and beards, they can have long hair too, like any other man, they can have voices along the whole spectrum of “roughness”, they are men who feel attracted towards other men, that’s it! Some people, not necessarily gay, feel that they belong to the other gender, and try hard to align their appearance with that aspired gender, they go through hormonal and painful surgical procedures for them to reach their aim, but that has nothing to do with whom they are attracted to.
I should give Mr Sibai the credit for mentioning something true in his second paragraph, when he said that :”Homosexuality has always been a controversial subject in the world, not just Lebanon”.
Actually, it is the most controversial universal contemporary issue. Some historians, sociologists, anthropologists and philosophers even argue that the “gay issue” bares lots of similarities with the feminist movements in the 1960s and the black liberation few decades earlier, as it is a struggle for a minority to acquire their God given rights, which were taken away from them by the well established “cultures, logic and morals” which are manmade, specifically to serve a more powerful majority.
As a practicing Christian, I have to rejoice that Mr Sibai is quoting the Bible, however Leviticus, the 3rd book of the Old testament is not the right place from which he can start condemning people “for lying with another man” which is considered an abomination
It is essential to mention here, that the same book has a list of abominations that Christians are not too keen to avoid, like eating shellfish or rabbit, wearing clothes with 2 types of fabric, planting different crops together and cutting the sides of their hair, are all abominations.
Christians have been released from the judgment in Leviticus; actually, in Galatians 6, Saint Paul goes so far as to say that, in Christ, neither circumcision nor un-circumcision means anything. He speaks of the Old Law as a “yoke of slavery” that he warns Christians not to be burdened by. Nowadays, there are churches that bless same-sex unions and others that even perform same-sex marriages, some remain completely against gay unions, but the presence of one does not nullify the other.
There are many Muslim LGBT groups in Europe and North America that organize sessions to share and perform prayers, people who decided to live up to their religion’s mission of compassion, mercy and tolerance.
Some Jewish groups are very inclusive to their LGBT members as well, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism considers homosexuality as a normal sexual expression, on the other hand, Orthodox jews remain on the opposite side of the spectrum.
As a medical doctor, I would like to share with Mr Sibai’s readers some medical information that he might have missed.
Homosexuality does not happen due “to certain factors during infancy” and homosexuality “canNOT be treated in various ways”.
Homosexuality is multifactorial in origin, some link it to the position 28 on the long arm of chromosome X (Xq28), some other scientists have linked it to other chromosomes. Hypothalamic differences, namely the 3rd interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus has been found to be different in size when comparing gay to straight men.
No treatment for Homosexuality since 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association removed it from the DSM as it considered it “a normal and positive variant of human sexual expression”
When it comes to STDs, it is not gay sex per say, but promiscuous unsafe sexual behavior, homosexual and heterosexual alike that increases its incidence.
The myth of gay sex being responsible of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s is nothing but a misnomer to irresponsible unsafe sexual practices.
Then Mr Sibai tackled the social aspect of gay life, saying that gay sex does not bare any offspring. Assuming that sex is not an expression of human intimate emotions, and that it is only performed for procreation purposes, I would like to shed the light on the value of the intimate contact between young married fertile straight couple, who decided, for instance, to postpone having kids, or have decided to take a break to have another child , or have completed their family. Should they be having sex, knowing in advance that it won’t be procreative? What about old couples, or people with special physical needs, should we allow them to have sex or not?
Then Mr Sibai went far to advocate for complete prohibition of any gay expression in public and private places. Well, personally, I am not a big fan of the public display of affection (PDA) for both straight and gay couples, as I consider the public realm to belong to everyone, but if I don’t like it, I turn my face, I practice tolerance, like in so many other occasions during my long days.
The private space is just private; this is the only place where a person can be 100 % her/himself. Mrs Patrick Campbell once said :” It doesn’t make any difference what you do in the bedroom as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.”, I have to agree with her, as I strive to live with, and let live all horses and others in the animal kingdom.
Then came philosophy lesson, when Mr Sibai tried to align legalizing gay existence with marijuana and “ a chain around a man’s neck and have him be dragged around” , I kept on reading this paragraph and couldn’t find the logical link between those 3 points… perhaps logic committed suicide at the doorstep of this un-enlighting article.
Furthermore, the legal aspect of the homosexual existence in Russia which is not true nor specific. Russia remains sadly affected with institutionalized homophobia but the situation is not as bad as Mr Sibai is describing.
On this occasion, I allow myself to dream of a better future with LGBT people gaining more and more acknowledgment as full active members of their local societies, which started with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) in the U.S, Christians denominations around the world growing to become more inclusive to all minorities, and the ongoing continuous efforts of the secular movement in Lebanon, like in so many corners of the world, depending solely on its human sense of justice to achieve equality for all.
Last but not least, and answering the unjust description of my existence as a gay man being full of “ lust, hunger and addiction” , I would like to confirm to Mr Sibai, that I am a human, just like him, I am full of hope, love, joy, strength as well as weakness, pain, tears and loneliness , the one thing that I am not, is fear, hate and ignorance, and his “viewpoint” was full of those three, collectively called Homophobia!!
Gay rights activist