Op-Ed

When you tell us there are other things to talk about other than Pacquiao’s anti-LGBT stance

Tamsin Wu: “We saw how some people started saying that we should stop talking about the Pacquiao issue because ‘there are other more important things to think or talk about’. Yet again, this form of suppression, a sweeping-the-dust-under-the-rug statement, is something that is equally spiteful and insensitive.”

Manny Pacquiao’s tactless and potentially dangerous remark on homosexuality has sparked another round of discussions in the country regarding LGBT rights. Social media has been afired with backlashes against the boxer’s distorted view on LGBTs, as well as with the usual bigotry defending his stance. As we can all agree, one good thing that has come out from the whole issue is that a spotlight has been placed on LGBT rights. Now, it is being discussed in both politics and media. Moreover, we can see that presently the LGBT community is impassioned to stand up against discrimination, oppression and violence. Gone are the dark days when nobody would bat an eye on LGBTs being attacked in whatever form.

When the social media trend on Pacquiao’s anti-LGBT statements was slowly dying down, another anti-LGBT sentiment was creeping in. We saw how some people started saying that we should stop talking about the Pacquiao issue because “there are other more important things to think or talk about”. Yet again, this form of suppression, a sweeping-the-dust-under-the-rug statement, is something that is equally spiteful and insensitive. Those who share this way of thinking do not realize that other issues can be brought up without dismissing the issue on LGBT rights. Those who express this notion are not considerate of the fact that the rights of the LGBT community have been ignored and violated for so many years, and that our collective voice has been raised only recently, which is a very good sign for the advocacy.

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As a stern advocate of LGBT rights, running into terrible comments about what we stand for is inevitable. I’ve shared a lot of my thoughts against the “LGBTs are worse than animals” statement in social media. I’ve also been vocal about people expressing their trivializing distaste of the whole Pacquiao vs. LGBT issue, that is – people who are tired of seeing social media posts about the repercussions of Pacquiao’s words. It is important to inform them that the existence of other issues does not make LGBT rights any less important. Their said distaste is just a reflection of the non-importance of LGBT rights in their own lives.

However, telling other people that we have the right to be heard can rub them the wrong way. Ignorance sometimes begets anger, and such ignorance still runs deep and wide. Aside from hateful Bible-thumpers, at times we also sadly encounter anti-LGBT sentiments within the community and from people whom we thought cared about us (e.g. family, friends, colleagues, self-proclaimed LGBT supporters). Besides the common religious disapproval of LGBT issues, here are the other comments I’ve encountered from, unfortunately, a lesbian and supposedly a supporter of LGBTs. After telling them that it is wrong to be dismissive of Pacquiao’s stance on LGBT issues, the reactions are the following:

1. The culture of “smart-shaming”
confronting hate1

2. A fellow LGBT shares Pacquiao’s view
confronting hate2
3. Misguided personal attacks that have nothing to do with the topic of discussion
confronting hate3
4. Finally, indifference to the LGBT issue
confronting hate4

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Apparently, there is also work to do in educating allies and those within the community about our advocacy. Otherwise, such internal ignorance may only sabotage our fight for equality.

In dealing with these kinds of blows – whether it be religious bigotry or otherwise – it is best to stick to the topic or issue at hand and not answer back with irrelevant insults. We have to show them that, despite all the hate thrown our way, our dignity remains intact. No amount of below-the-belt punches would make us cower down on our knees and become worse than animals in our words, deeds and thoughts.

Let us all continue to clamor for change until this society is free from twisted beliefs and ideas about the LGBT community.

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