I remember the days when I often asked myself: What am I? Where do I place myself in this society? And how will it be tomorrow when I wake up knowing I’m uniquely created?
These were the questions that frequently lingered in my mind while I was growing as the only child. I grew up attracted to both sexes; I knew then that my childhood would definitely be complicatedly fun.
I was born and raised in a conservative Christian family. Growing up was not easy at all for me; everyday was a struggle as I needed to conceal the truth from my family. What made it more difficult was the fact that I had an illicit sexual contact with at least three of my male cousins. This brought more questions than answers to my weary mind. I was young, clueless and misguided. I thought I was abused at my most vulnerable state. Nobody knew; nobody heard me cry – not a single one of them; it was only me.
I went on with my life hiding from reality. And by hiding I mean courting at least five female friends (three in high school, one in college and one in my postgraduate studies). Perhaps a part of me loved these ladies; having mustered courage to court them was more than enough evidence of the love that was.
So yes, I grew trying to be as “stiff” and as “manly” as I could be to earn the respect that I deserve despite and regardless my sexual orientation.
My story exemplifies many of the stories of closeted bisexuals, lesbians and/or gay men around the globe. The struggle is without compare. Some would question and even just say: “Get out of the closet! Scream out loud!” This, I cannot personally do, but the hesitation isn’t tantamount to having a lonely life that some may envision. I am out to my mother and my and sister, and some of my friends. I am out but not loud. This is a choice accompanied with happiness and contentment, and I must say that even in defiance of what others say that genuine happiness in being a member of the LGBTQI community can be found only in being both out and loud. Every human being has his or her own standards of satisfaction; and this is mine.
On June 12, the world heard one of the most unimaginable displays of hatred against the LGBTQI community in Orlando, Florida. Hate is an understatement for what happened; not a single word can ever be used to describe that tumultuous display of anger and brutality in the shooting incident. Fear caused by such inhumane act again became inevitable for many of the closeted gay and bi guys. Can we now question them for choosing to stay closeted even now?
This incident should not only be treated as a wake-up call for our community to stand and fight for LGBTQI rights, but also the start an era when our community embraces the diversity from within, including the individual choices that its members choose, so long as our individual rights and privileges are not impaired. After all, the community’s goal is to halt discrimination, and – within the community – prejudice exists when we question individual decisions.
As we gather together as a community, there must exist a collective respect for all the members of the LGBTQI community. We will achieve our common goal when we make the word respect operate for the greater good of the community. Respect should not be an option that can be exercised at one’s discretion, but a mandate that the members of the community should herewith comply with.
There are numerous hate crimes against the LGBTQI community. The shooting incident in Orlando, Florida may not solely be considered the major hate crime committed against the LGBTQI community – e.g. the forgotten victims of the 1973 gay bar arson that took the lives of 32 people, even if our generation will never forget about the Orlando shooting incident. The fact is, we have been jeopardized for the longest time.
It is but proper that we no longer allow vicious acts cloaked as religious beliefs. Gone are the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Today, not only should we celebrate; we have to embrace an irresistible force – DIVERSITY! Death should not be treated as our defeat from the cause that we are fighting for. It must be regarded as breathe of new life by battling even more than ever.
I dare say that the Supernatural Being above the skies loves us; He who most of the homophobes uses in their words and acts of hate. In 1 John 4:8, it says: Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. Love comes with acceptance. In killing there exists no love. In condemnation, love is wanting. Definitely, what exists from condemnation and killing is confounded hatred.
We shouldn’t be condemned for being who we are as it was repeatedly said in the bible, we are created in His own image and likeness. It is unequivocal to conclude that we have to live harmoniously by eradicating the barriers from one gender to another.
In a statement made by Pope Francis on Sunday aboard a plane, he said: “I repeat what catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against… The church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times — when I say the Church, I mean Christians.”
If the head of the Roman Catholic Church demands its people to ask forgiveness for the constant discrimination against our community, there should be no reason to hamper them from recognizing our existence by extending their hands to us with respect. After all, a dignified church is one that acts in unison and in accordance to their teachings of the church leaders.
Not so long ago, I remember being taught about existentialism. One of the existentialists said to me: “People understand me so poorly that they don’t even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.” It was Søren Kierkegaard who said that; and I couldn’t help but agree with him as it has become apparent today when the people’s incapacity to recognize our plea for acceptance is the origin of this archaic societal predicament. The key to a better society is in the ability to intelligibly acknowledge our existence, an acknowledgment where there is a room for acceptance.
I started with questions. These were my childhood questions left unanswered until my diagnosis as HIV+. I am a bisexual male who have a rightful space in this world despite and regardless the choices I make because I belong in this society; a society that shouldn’t define a person by gender, race, religion and status.
I am a bisexual male who was once in hiding in the closet, but whose disclosure of my sexuality to my mom and my sister made it easier to also disclose my HIV status because I knew that I will not be treated differently – not by my own family because I’m lucky enough to have been gifted with an understanding immediate family.
I’m ending with a definitive statement in view of a philosophical perspective. Using the paradigm of fatalism, I can say that it was fate that allowed me to be in the situation where I have been and will be, a happening in my life falling in place according to a predetermined pattern and which can never be changed. This is my fate and destiny. I am not different because today I will start perceiving the society as genderless, status-less, and undivided by religion. I was placed in this situation in my lifetime because I am made to outlive the oddities of life as I continuously join in the call for equal rights.
Today, we stop from demanding respect because today, as we celebrate our day with Pride, we start to fight back. While it may be a bumpy ride towards euphoria, it must be noted that we will forget about every pain, rejection, and hatred because we will end victorious with that one goal, acceptance through equality.
Know that Pride is a celebration and a reminder of the years of struggle to be where we are today as a community. The days that are yet to come will not be an effortless ride but we should stay true to our colors – be it red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple. We should stay under one banner regardless the diversity within the community, we should stand united; one heart, one mind, one spirit!