My mother shared an anecdote last Sunday on how I ended up calling her Mama, while I called my father Daddy. She said when I was less than a year older, she taught me to call her Mama, which I did. But every time she taught me to call my father Papa, I would shake my head and motion to her that papa is to eat. So eventually she ended up teaching me to call my father Daddy--which stuck.

"Even when you were a baby, you were already stubborn," she said, laughing.

Many years hence, my parents (mostly my mother) and I have had many skirmishes when they forced something on me that I didn't want. Whether it was going to mass every day or abstaining from meat every Friday; sleeping in the summer afternoons or choosing the books to read (my mother once destroyed a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when some misguided Church leader said it was of the devil)--I've always stood my ground when I really didn't want it

On the surface, I appear very stubborn. But I know that I'm not. There was a time that I heard mass everyday without anyone telling me. There was a time I abstained from meat every Friday. I even went inside the seminary on my own without my mother pulling my hair into it. And if she were to tell me to sleep all afternoons of my life, I'd gladly do it.

It's not stubbornness. I need to do things in my own time, without anyone trying to rush me or force their way of thinking on me. I need room to think, to ask and wonder and make the decision on my own. I don't like anyone force-feeding me, telling me that I should follow blindly because it's the voice of God.

I guess that's why some of the news I've read recently about boxers and beauty queens claiming to be God's spokespersons irritated me to the point that I wished that in the trailer of Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme, the beauty queen was not just pushed out of the car, but a speeding ten-wheeler truck crushed her. When she started mouthing God's name, I saw red. Make that two ten-wheeler trucks on a collision course with her right smack in the middle. I would pay to watch that video clip on IMAX 3D.

Having read the entire Bible for much of my young life and studied it when I was briefly in the seminary, I easily get irritated when people quote from it to disguise their personal biases as divine revelations. Sometimes I want to smack them with the Bible, bring the entire weight of the word of God to their heads and let them swallow it whole in the small hope that they would digest the spirit of it and not meander through the technicalities of what's written without discerning what it meant.

It's like being pounded in the head with a hammer whenever I hear people say that theirs is the only way, the only truth and the only life. Anyone else outside of it is condemned, bound for hell where there is endless fire and gnashing of teeth.

It's not simply because I'm gay and I'm part of the outcast, but my irritation stems from the fact that I feel robbed of my humanity, of my dignity and freedom to choose and make up my own mind. It's like they're trying to take away the very thing that's uniquely human: the ability to think and to question. Take that away and we're nothing but apes and monkeys.

They want to rob every person of their individuality, because they want everyone to be the same as them, to think like them without questioning the truth of their words, to accept what they say as God-given, as though they have God on speed dial. It's like them telling me that I can only call my parents either Mama and Papa or Mommy and Daddy. Any other combination would be from the devil.


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