“My son is 16, he told me he thinks he is gay, can he be sure at this age? I’m so in shock, who should I consult? Please help me.”
This was a question I recently responded to. It was posted by a Lebanese mother on a medical forum.
“Hello Mrs. Haddad (name changed to maintain anonymity), straight boys can know they are attracted sexually to girls since very early ages, even before puberty. Non-heterosexual boys are the same, they can easily tell their attractions are towards other boys from as early as puberty and even earlier. You don’t hear about it as much because they suppress and hide it in a society where the norm is to express heterosexuality and where it is harder to fit in with your peers if you express homosexual tendencies.
You should be proud of your son for having the courage to share with you this info and kudos to you for raising up a kid who feels comfortable to share this with you. I suggest you book an appointment for the two of you with a psychologist or social worker at Marsa.me clinic in Beirut, phone number 01-737647.
Dr. Hasan Abdessamad”
Homosexuality, just like heterosexuality, is a normal variant of human sexuality. The causes, if any, of either are yet to be unveiled. What we know for sure is that sexual orientation can not be changed. The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health LebMASH has published a position statement on homosexuality on May 17, 2013 affirming that:
- Homosexuality is not a disease.
- Origins of homosexuality, just like those of Heterosexuality, are not known.
- Homosexuality is not a choice.
- Homosexuals are at higher risks for psychological problems
- Homosexuality itself does not lead to mental illness. Stigma, peer rejection, discrimination, heteronormative bias, bullying, internalized prejudice, and the stress of disclosure about one’s sexual orientation to others (known as “coming out”) place homosexuals at a higher risk for psychological problems.
- Attempts to change ones sexual orientation can be harmful.
- Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (OSCE) are futile, are not based on any sound scientific evidence and the practice has been abandoned due to proven failure and serious risks.
Homosexuality has been depathologized in Lebanon in May 2013 when the The Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) and Lebanese Psychological Association (LPA) published position statements and circulated press releases affirming that homosexuality is not a mental illness, exactly 23 years after the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from it s list of mental disorders on May 17, 1990.
Naturally, it will take time for this information to become common knowledge in Lebanon. Until then, I call on health care providers, health and human rights organizations, and media personelle to play an active role in educating the public. Not all kids have a mother like Mrs. Haddad who will seek help and information from medical sources.