[Dash of SAS] Open Sex
A once-teenage mother, a transgender female, and other members of the LGBT (lesbian gay, bi-sexual and transgender) community, a group of alpha men, and mothers with grown children. It may sound like an unlikely group to put in one room to openly talk about sex, but that was exactly what happened one Saturday at the forum, “Sexual Health: Why Should You Care?”
The forum organized by Mulat Pinoy, Young Public Servants, and Sex and Sensibilities.com, brought together everyday people who shared their own experiences in response to why sexual health is everyone’s concern.
Teeny baby bump
“I got pregnant when I was 16,” shared Vanessa Hamilton.
It was a traumatic time for her because she was judged, stigmatized and discriminated against. On top of that, the boy who got her pregnant left her.
Vanessa said that she grew up in a very open household where her parents talked to her about sex and accidental pregnancies, but “I was arrogant, I was cocky. I didn’t think it would happen to me.”
Getting involved with an older partner who had different expectations was also a factor. “I had my first boyfriend at a young age, but I thought being in a relationship was just about hanging old and talking.”
According to Cecille Villa, executive director of Foundation for Adolescent Development (FAD), an organization that offers telephone counseling and support for teens, it is not unusual for teens to think they will not get pregnant if they have sex only once or not very often.
“Parents should have an open relationship about sex and sexuality with their children. Their kids should know whom they could go to. Prepare and educate them about the physical and emotional aspects of sex,” said Cecille.
Vanessa agreed, “My parents were very supportive. When I told them I was pregnant, my Dad just said, ‘Well, at least, you’ve gotten that out of the way.’ It was a huge factor in making me feel that I was loved and had all the support I needed.”
Marked: Stigma and discrimination
“I went to a Catholic all-boy school and one day, they rounded up the beckies (another name for “bakla” or gay) and took us to the principal’s office. There, we were made to sign a Memorandum of Agreement saying we could be expelled for wearing make-up, shrieking or acting too effeminate,” recalled Heart Dino, chairperson of the University of the Philippines Student Council.
Being the first transgender to hold that position is affirmation that Heart’s gender expression has nothing to do with her capabilities and leadership skills, but Heart says that discrimination, such as she experienced in high school, is typical for transgender women.
“I understood the reason for the rules,” said Heart, “But the MOA was given to only a few students which was very unfair and discriminating.”
John Piermont Montilla talked about two aspects of commercial sex work. One, because some sex workers are freelance, they are not easy to identify or target for information about proper condom use, STI (sexually-transmitted infection) and HIV testing.
Another aspect is how women are equally at risk for HIV because their partners engage in unprotected sex with other men without them knowing it. Being in a monogamous relationship or being faithful does not assure you of protection from STIs and HIV.
“MSM or males who have sex with males, may not and need not be gay. They can have wives or girlfriends and want to have sex with both men and women.”
Are you man enough? No glove, no love
The Philippines has the lowest condom use in Asia. According to the 2008 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), condom use in the Philippines is at 2.8%.
In Asia, the Philippines has the lowest condom use.
There are guys who are man enough to form part of the minority.
“I wanted to have sex with as many women as I could before settling down,” said Vinchi Syquia, marketing officer at dkt Philippines, makers of Frenzy and Premiere Condoms. “But I knew I had to be responsible about it,” Vinchi added. Now married and a father of a young child, Vinchi says that he was mostly influenced by Magic Johnson’s admission of being HIV positive in the 1980s.
“Man up. We say that to guys when talking about getting into a fight, about stepping up to the plate. But that also applies to using a condom when you have sex. It’s about being responsible, not just for your own sexual health, but that of your partner’s,” said Slick Rick, one of the boys of DJ trio Boys Night Out.
Tony Tony, also of Boys Night Out, admits becoming sexually active very early on in his teens. “I think I started when I was 12 or 13 years old,” said Tony, who was born and raised in Canada. “But I was always taught in school that you had to use condoms.”
Oneal Rosero, married with no kids, said he got his sex education in school, but also had his own practical logic. “I wanted to have a lot of sex, and if I got a girl pregnant, then the sex would stop.”
When asked about who should bring the condoms, the men agreed that it doesn’t matter. A girl who brings her own condoms is someone who takes care of herself and wouldn’t entrust her health and her future in the hands of another.
Mothers know best
Moms Cecille Villa, Marian Martin-Layug and Pia Magalona all talk about sex with their kids in varying degrees.
With her kids knowing her work at the Foundation for Adolescent Development, asking questions about sex in their household was as common as asking, “What’s for dinner?”
“We even had condoms all over the house and my son’s friends would think that it was so cool,” laughed Cecille.
“I would characterize my relationship with my children as being loving, respectful and fearless,” said Marian Martin-Layug. “You cannot separate one’s sexuality from one’s identity as a person, and that’s why it is important to also talk about self-identity, self-worth and dignity in relation to sexuality.”
Celebrity mom Pia Magalona shared how she grew up in a very conservative and strict household. “Then I got pregnant at home, at the age of 18,” she shared.
With her brood of 8 kids, some who are all grown up and some who are now just about to enter their tween years, Pia spoke about the importance of teaching responsibility and accountability.
“I tell my kids that they should be responsible. If they get pregnant or get someone pregnant, I will not allow that child to be raised by anyone else but them.”
At the end of the forum, it became evident that while a teenage mom, members of the LGBT community, alpha men and moms may not be a likely group to put together to discuss sexual health and positive sexuality, when you have open communication lines and talk about sexual health in an open and intelligent manner, you keep it real.
And most importantly, you get real answers. - Rappler.com
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