WARNING: Vulgar words ahead. Also, this is kind of long, so grab some popcorn or something.
1. Pinoys in general just tolerate, not accept, gays.
There is a huge difference between tolerance and acceptance. I don’t see complete acceptance at all. I only see tolerance of a certain amount of the “gay culture.” So what kind of gayness do Pinoys tolerate? Filipinos like gay folks who live by their established stereotypes. Vice Ganda-esque sort of gayness, that’s what people like. If you’re gay, you have to be funny and you should work as a make-up artist or a fashion designer. If you work in the military or play with a sports team, you’re going to create a lot of fuss, so just stay in the closet if you do.
2. There’s still too much religious bigotry in this country.
“God designed you to be straight.”
“You have a dick, so act like a man.”
“Homosexuality is a sin.”
“Remember Sodom and Gomorrah.”
“It is unnatural.”
Ad infinitum, ad nauseam…
The strange thing about the Philippines is the seeming disconnect within its evolving culture. We’re taking large leaps into progress, but we keep old customs–especially ones that are either useless or ridiculous. I’m not a fan of customs and tradition. I want this country to evolve and embrace change. Enough with overrated family values. Enough with Christian values. Enough with old religious concepts of morality and stuff. We have to grow as a community, not as discrete packets of supposedly Christian families. We have to learn how to respect individual differences and accept that idea that we can be a solid community that encourages a beautiful diversity.
The old gender dichotomy needs to rest. The average Pinoy should understand modern concepts of sexual identities or at least leave people with non-conventional identities alone. After all, if you’re a straight Christian, it’s not you who’s going to face God in the afterlife and be judged for homosexuality. It’s us! I’ll ask God questions if he shows up on my funeral.
3. Pinoys confuse gay with transgender or vice-versa.
There is still a ridiculous number of people, even within the LGBT community, who think that gay men want to be girls and that transgender people are gay. I don’t blame them. The word transgender is like a new word for Filipinos. The first time you heard it was probably just a few years ago. The problem is when you explain to people what transgender is, they refuse to accept the meaning. Instead, they insist their own bias about “men wearing makeup and skirts,” that they’re still men, or that Aiza Seguerra is still a woman. Filipinos are preoccupied with sex organs. So if you have a penis, you’re supposed to be a man.
Gay means you like to be a girl, because you like men and you like a dong shoved up your turd cutter, and so gay and transgender are basically the same for many Pinoys. But can you blame them, when the gay community itself flaunts Miss Gay pageants and other drag shows that serve to create a hilarious caricature of the “gay culture”? It’s partly our fault. Maybe we should stop calling it Miss Gay because it’s a misnomer. Maybe we should call it Miss Drag or Miss Trans or I don’t know. It’s not a gay pageant per se. It’s a pageant for the gender non-conforming queer folks – drag queens, crossdressers, and transpinays. They are fabulous, and we love the flamboyance, but many of these people are not gay, and many gay men don’t do drag shows.
And please, I think it’s time we did drag shows with class. Let’s end the culture of comic drag shows that mock our community.
4. Many Pinoys think gay men spread STDs and HIV.
Look at the forums about HIV/AIDS. You’ll be astounded at the magnitude of ignorance of arrogant anti-gay people who think that HIV is a gay disease, a sort of plague nature designed to wipe out gay men–because stigmatizing HIV is better than showing concern and giving assistance.
Fr. Dan Vicente Cancino of CBCP implied in a recent article about STD cases in the country that distorted concepts of sexuality and erosion of family values may be a factor in the rise of HIV cases in the country. It’s a wild assumption that needs more study. Influential figures like him can manipulate the thinking of the less than informed members of the population, propagating wrong notions about sexually transmitted infections, like HIV.
5. Conservatives don’t like gay people to be gay.
The infamous “love the sinner, hate the sin” banner is one of my favorites. It doesn’t make any sense. The church and its blind sycophants endorse it. Maybe they think it’s comforting for us gay people to hear they love us, but then we abhor what follows. Be gay but don’t be gay. Be gay but don’t suck dick. Be gay but don’t fuck or get fucked. Be gay but don’t touch someone else’s boner. These are sins.
Sins. Big word!
We can talk about the awesome number of sins religious texts want people to avoid. For instance, you’re not supposed to engage in sex before marriage or you shouldn’t perform any form of birth control, including the pull-out method. But conservatives single out gay people in their quest to spread their gay-focused sexual morality. You don’t see these people on issues about increasing cases of premarital sex, teenage pregnancy, and rape.
6. Conservatives are obsessed with what two men or two women do in private.
There are far too many conservatives in this country, some of them are celebrities, one of whom stated on a TV show that homosexuality is a lie from the devil. What? I didn’t know I was a devil’s lie. Ha! Anyway, look at so many threads on articles about gay, lesbian, or transgender people, and you’ll see an awful number of homophobic and transphobic comments. One thing I’ve observed about religious conservatives is that they are too obsessed with what a gay or lesbian couple do in their room together. Why is it important to know or assume what they do in private? It’s none of anyone’s business. We don’t look at a straight couple walking on a street and think about them going down on each other. It’s total perversion. But conservatives who go to church every Sunday get away with this perversion by citing their moral uprightness. They are too morally upright, they can imagine two guys naked in bed. The cognitive dissonance sickens me to the stomach. Also, how come they seem to know too much about what two gay men do in bed? Who knows, maybe they’re voyeurs or gay porn enthusiasts.
7. Two men holding hands in public can draw so much flak.
Two guys holding hands on the street, in the mall, or at school would earn the ire of nosy bystanders. If they were kissing, it would be a scandal.
Look at that Bench billboard of two guys holding hands. They weren’t even kissing in that picture. But the hands had to be painted over for some vague reason. Then followed rants from self-righteous churchgoers.
Tell me honestly. How many gay couples can you see holding each other’s hands in public? And if you’re gay and you have a boyfriend, do you hold each other’s hands on the sidewalks as you take a stroll? If yes, good. If no, then why? Ask anyone in the family or your friends what they think of two guys holding hands in public? Come back here and give me honest answers.
8. Gay tagging is fun here.
Piolo Pascual is gay. Enchong Dee is gay. Ethel Booba is gay. Everyone is gay! The gay tag remains controversial in a country where being gay is still stigmatized. Otherwise, no one would care about anyone’s sexual orientation. Piolo Pascual is notoriously accused of being gay for strange reasons that escape my logical reasoning. I really don’t care whether or not he is gay, and it shouldn’t be anybody’s business. People just like to ridicule other people, and one way is to call them gay.
Pink shirts are so gay! What? You mean pink shirts suck dicks too?
9. Anti-gay slurs abound.
People have yelled “bakla” at me so many times in the past. It was never fun, especially when you know it’s not simply an affirmation but a homophobic slur. It blighted my childhood. It blighted my teenage years. The memories stay deep in the wounds they seared. Those people are never forgiven.
I know that while a gay teenager may just let gay slurs on the streets pass, he’s just suppressing the urge to strike back for the fear of getting physically hurt or because he’s convinced he deserves the homophobic slur. I know how that feels. Ad misericordiam aside, yelling slurs at anyone because they’re different is an unnecessary showing of disrespect and miseducation. You don’t need to yell at me the word GAY. I know I am already since the sixth grade.
10. Many gay people have to stay in the closet.
Do your parents know you’re gay? How many gay people are still hiding their true identities from their families, co-workers, or wives? Why do they have to hide? A community that is completely open to gay people should encourage them to come out and just be themselves. But even today, I still know gay, bi, or transgender people who have to keep their identities from their families and live in pretense.
Coming out can be a traumatic experience.
Many LGBT people hesitate to come out because what follows after scares the shit out of them. Your family changes the way they treat you. You get misunderstood. You could lose your job. You could lose your friends.
When Charice Pempengco came out, there was a wild feast of homophobes in discussion boards and forums about her. The amount of narrowmindedness was nauseating. It was difficult to defend her in the forums without your defense getting lost in the wild convolution of disturbing homophobic attacks. The homophobia is certainly uncharacteristic of a country coined as gay friendly.
Gay friendly my arse!
11. Discrimination and bullying of gay and transgender folks remain a threat to LGBT freedom and welfare.
Without any law that protects LGBT people from discrimination, anyone can deny them of accommodations, enrollment, or service and cite their internal policy or religious freedom for doing so. It’s curious how difficult it is to pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill in a country that they call gay friendly. Schools have kicked out students who have been exposed as having homosexual affairs or teachers who have been exposed of engaging in homosexual activities. Companies can fire gay employees, if not force them to stay in the closet.
Some of the critics of the anti-discrimination bill cite their favorite dishonest line: “there are still many problems in the country that need attention.” This fallacy of relative privation annoys me because it’s like saying skip your dinner because there are hungry homeless kids in the streets right now.
12. Same sex marriage is taboo.
Conservatives and even quasi-liberals cringe at the idea of same sex marriage, citing the infamous sanctity-of-marriage argument. Marriage after all is largely a heterosexist construct, defined within the bounds of Christian religion by the law, in this case. Heterosexual partnerships, even those that are considered immoral by Biblical standards, are considered superior to homosexual partnerships. After all, a dick cannot be married to another dick, or so say the dick-minded marriage equality critics. Many people in this country seem too preoccupied with people’s sex organs. Dicks are meant for pussies. So if you have a dick, date someone with a pussy. A Catholic figure once quipped, gays are free to marry–women. You know, they say it’s because the parts fit. It’s the parts that get married after all.
13. Laws are heterosexist.
Co-habiting same sex couples do not have the same rights as co-habiting heterosexual couples. If you have been in a same sex relationship for years, you are not entitled to co-ownership rules. The legal definition of marriage is heterosexist. The Family Code is heterosexist. This country in general is run by heterosexist nuts. President Aquino once suggested that gay marriage may be inappropriate because it is undesirable to children who will be adopted under such unions. That’s how I understood what he said. It’s a vague, absurd argument.
14. You cannot see two men kissing on mainstream shows and in movies.
But you can see teenage pregnancies, marital disputes, and concubinage on TV–that and all sorts of cliché soap operas and movies that fail the Bechdel Test. A scene of people in abandoned buildings exchanging bullets is great. A car crash? Grand! But two guys showing love for each other is a no-no. The media erasure of gay romance is offensive. Save My Husband’s Lover–it’s a rarity; and the romantic scenes between the two male protagonists were limited to them sharing sweet glances and caressing each other. Gay kiss is reserved for low-budget independent films starred by actors who couldn’t act to save their lives. It’s taboo in local mainstream programs, unfairly censored by a “morally upright” local regulatory board whose “child-friendly,” “family values-inspired” cinema informercial is plain nauseating.
15. Intolerance exists within the LGBT community.
You will be surprised that there are LGBT people who dislike other members. Let’s be honest about it. Straight-looking and straight-acting (cisgender) gay/bi dudes don’t usually hang out with femmes and cross-dressers. This is an issue that I’ll leave for another article. Anyway, I think this is a result of the lingering heterosexism and cissexism in the country, which eats into the LGBT community, creating its own version of homophobia and transphobia, weakening our force as an entity that seeks justice and equality.
Yes, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, India, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Senegal treat gay men terribly. But that doesn’t mean Philippines is gay friendly. The society is getting better at treating LGBT people, but we’re not really at the stage wherein the community is open to understanding non-heterosexual and non-cisgender people. They just know queer people exist. And when you’re queer, you become someone else, a second class citizen. The label becomes your differentiation. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a teacher, a nurse, or a doctor. People remember you as that fellow who flicks his hand when he speaks or sways his hips when he walks. Gay becomes an adjective used to describe you. You can be a successful artist or entrepreneur, but people refer to you as that gay artist, that gay teacher, that gay whatever. Then they want you have to conform to the heteronormative culture. All right, you’re gay, but don’t act like this, don’t wear that, act decently, and so on. So much for gay friendly.
We can only be truly gay friendly when everyone stops harassing, bullying, hurting, and discriminating against gay people. When no one has to lock their true identity up in the closet because of fear of embarrassment and humiliation, that’s the time I’ll say this country is truly gay friendly.
A lot still has to happen before a country like the Philippines can claim to be truly LGBT-friendly.
PHOTOS FROM THE 20TH METRO MANILA PRIDE MARCH IN 2014