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.
I may be HIV+ but that still doesn’t mean I’ll sleep with you
This is something every PLHIV needs to learn. That we are still “worth it”. Forget these notions of you being a “damaged good” or a “dirty person” or banalities given us along those lines. Because my HIV status is just one facet of my outrageous (and fabulous) personality; it does not define me.
That was the short sentence I remember telling this guy I used to date.
Okay – to backtrack – I met a guy while I was in Northern Mindanao. We dated for a while, and – at least I thought – things between us went smoothly for a while. I’d say he wasn’t bad-looking even if he looked somewhat common. He had one of those “if you stay long enough, I can teach myself to maybe even like you” face.
And then one night, we became more intimate than the usual. So I had to stop what we were doing (before we progressed further). And then – after prepping him up by first discussing with him his views about HIV and people living with HIV – I told him I had something important to tell him (if we were to advance what we had).
Thus that short sentence.
His face immediately changed; from what I saw was longing to… shocked. He couldn’t even say a word. And when he was finally able to utter a word, it was just to tell me that “I forgot I had to be elsewhere.”
The alibi was lame. But what made it more insulting was that I wasn’t even that into him to begin with; he was just a possible lay (if it came to that)
But that moment taught me two important things.
On one hand, how the sexuality of so many PLHIVs are tempered by their status.
I have frequently heard of medical practitioners who tell PLHIVs to “already stop having sex now that you’re HIV-positive; dadami pa kayo (you’d abet in increasing the number of PLHIVs)” – all too obviously unaware of safer sexual practices and U=U, among others. Worse, this sentiment is shared by a lot of PLHIVs themselves, who see their status as a “punishment”, and the only “cure” is to stop having sex altogether. Oh, please!
On the other hand, recognizing that being sexual doesn’t disappear (and doesn’t need to vanish) with being HIV-positive, there seems to be this supposition of PLHIVs being “desperate”.
That guy I dated, for instance, had every right NOT to have sex with me (it’s called power over one’s body); but that he had to lie just to get away from me was – to admit the truth – not only discourteous but even insulting. I suppose particularly because… I wasn’t even that into him.
Here’s the thing: Me living with HIV means just that – that I have HIV. But it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost my (yes!) sexual appetite and (for that matter) taste/preferences/standards on who to do it with.
And I believe this is something every PLHIV needs to learn. That we are still “worth it”. Forget these notions of you being a “damaged good” or a “dirty person” or banalities given us along those lines. Because my HIV status is just one facet of my outrageous (and fabulous) personality; it does not define me. And if (some) guys can’t see that, well…
Because remember dearie, just because I am HIV-positive still doesn’t mean I’ll sleep with you.
Women are not ‘disgusting’; gay men are just not into them…
Why the need to demean women, or express disgust over their body parts, when we can just say, “No, we’re not into women”; or “I’m a man; but I’m (also) into men”?
Time to unlearn sub-/unconscious misogyny.
Here’s the thing: With the demise of Christine Dacera, and with predominantly gay (and perhaps bi) men considered as suspects by the error-filled PNP (Philippine National Police), many members of the LGBTQIA community surfaced to defend members of the rainbow family.
Background info: Christine Dacera, a flight attendant, celebrated her New Year’s Eve with gay/bi friends in a hotel in Makati City. On New Year’s Day, her body was found lifeless. The PNP (pre-empting everything) pushed for questionable narratives – e.g. that she was “raped” (even if the autopsy report couldn’t validate this), and then committed inept acts – e.g. announcing the case to be “solved” when it really wasn’t, jailing three of the people who claimed to have helped Christine that night (with a judge ordering them to release the three; and then basically telling them to, yes, do their job properly), embalming the body before another (independent) autopsy can be done, etc.
It didn’t help PNP at all when one of its top brass stated that “gay men are still men” (Yes, sir, they are; DUH!) and insinuated that gayness can, basically, be cured by alcohol (that is, they’d start having sex with, or even rape women when they’re drunk).
Going online, among the statements of “support” for the gay/bi suspects, however, you’d find statements like “yuck”, gross ang vagina”, “babae, yuck”, “kadiri“, and so on. All these supposedly refer to what gay men “feel” when with women.
And let’s stop spewing these misogynistic statements.
Misogyny – that hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women (Merriam-Webster, 2021) – can be blatant. But it can also be “invisible”. And get this, even members of minority sectors – such as those from the LGBTQIA community – can be misogynistic.
This seeming disdain for women – or their body parts – is actually misogynistic.
If you think this I am making a big “leap” with this claim, consider that in Psychology Today, Dr. Berit Brogaard wrote that “in most cases, misogynists do not even know that they hate women.”
After all, why the need to demean women, or express disgust over their body parts, when we can just say, “No, we’re not into women”; or “I’m a man; but I’m (also) into men”?
The antiquated – and, well, fatuous – macho culture in PNP has been harming members of the LGBTQIA community. Let’s not become part of the problem by becoming just as antiquated and, yes, just as fatuous.
To stand united, we also need to watch our tongues…
Our bigger enemy here is injustice… to everyone involved (i.e. Christine; her loved ones; and her friends, many of them treated – even without proof – with prejudice). And how this injustice can be perpetuated even by those in positions of power. But just as important is for us to stay… united against these abuses. And part of this is not to become sources of, well, discrimination ourselves.
I was 28 the first time I was told I’m old. We were in a bar in Malate (the former gay capital of the City of Manila); and then – while partying with friends – this 21-year-old gay guy who was with a friend said: “You’re too old to be in a bar; yuck!”.
Ageism – which refers to prejudice or discrimination on the basis of age – is an issue in the LGBTQIA community. It is an issue that has been tackled repeatedly in the past; though, admittedly, perhaps not as much in the Philippines.
In 2009, for instance, Malcolm Sargeant published “Age discrimination, sexual orientation and gender identity: UK/US perspectives” in Equal Opportunities International”, which noted that LGBTQIA elders suffer from particular discrimination when compared to that suffered by elders in general, and heterosexual elders in particular.
It is, therefore, not surprising that elders have been calling for inclusion; something that Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE (an American organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ elders), said that should be tackled. “Over and over what we hear again from our elders is that they feel invisible and forgotten by the rest of the community, and that includes our younger people… And what we’ve seen is that it’s so powerful when older and younger people come together and engage as activists,” Adams was quoted as saying by Out.com.
These two points – ageism, and the need to dump it if we want to move forward TOGETHER – was re-emphasized to me after hearing from some of PNP’s suspects in the demise of Christine Dacera.
As FYI: Christine, a flight attendant, partied with mostly gay/bi friends during New Year’s Eve. She passed away on New Year’s Day; and the PNP has been “forcing” a narrative that she was “raped”, with a high-ranking policeman even claiming that when gay men get drunk, they “also become men”.
This one’s not to talk about PNP messing everything up; PNP’s assertion that “gay men are still men” (based on this antiquated misconception that “gay men are not ‘real’ men”); PNP’s erroneous belief that alcohol is a “cure” to being LGBTQIA (Hello, CBCP, send some my way!); and PNP’s insinuation that, yes, all men are rapists.
Instead, this is to focus on how “damage” can come from within the LGBTQIA community. And we really need to be aware of this; and even take steps to deal with this.
Now back to ageism and how this happens from within.
When ABS-CBN News interviewed some of the initial suspects (who were released when the court told PNP it, basically, didn’t do its job properly to pin these people down), one of them stated (off-handedly, if I may add; proceed to 56:25 in the YT video below) that they mingled with “mga bakla” in a separate room, but that this room had “matatanda/bakla na may mga edad na” so they may as well move to their room/a different room since “wala namang pogi dito eh“.
Discriminating may have been unintentional (ageism, and yes, lookism); but it’s still there.
The suspects’ names have been unnecessarily dragged by the PNP which committed errors after errors after errors when it dealt with this case – e.g. it prematurely declared the case “solved”; it claimed there was “rape” when the initial autopsy report did not back this claim; its key people even threatened that if the suspects did not willingly surrender, then they should expect the worse (and yes, we all know what THAT meant); and it basically prevented another autopsy from being done to the body when it had the body embalmed sans informing the family, etc.
Our bigger enemy here is injustice… to everyone involved (i.e. Christine; her loved ones; and her friends and acquaintances, many of them treated – even without proof – with prejudice). And how this injustice can be perpetuated even by those in positions of power.
But just as important is for us to stay… united against these abuses.
And part of this is not to become sources of, well, discrimination ourselves. Because how can we stand united if we discriminate against people we hope will actually support us (e.g. the LGBTQIA community as a whole, including the elders and, yes, the “not pogi“)?
So let’s be more self-aware as we start dealing with this…
About sex work (and prostitution) among Filipinos at the time of Covid-19
Various Facebook GCs (group chats) highlight how Covid-19 may have pushed many Filipinos into the sex industry. And yet – except in these GCs – this is largely ignored.
Facebook just prompted me to “join” three GCs (group chats) related to sex work (and even prostitution). One is for “mga lalaking bayaran“, another for masseurs with ES (extra service; the extra being the sexual favor), and another for “for hire daks Pinoys”.
These aren’t exclusive GCs, actually; and they aren’t new, either. Many others like them abound in Facebook (among other social networking sites).
But upon checking, what struck me with these GCs this time around is Covid-19’s effect/s on the (current) memberships. So many are in this because of desperation. For instance, it is not uncommon to see comments like: “Nawalan lang ng trabaho; sino gusto tumulong para may ipa-Pasko kaming mag-aama“; or “Para tulong lang sa online classes.”
This is another facet of the sex industry (and even prostitution) as exacerbated by the pandemic.
And this face – while at least tackled overseas – isn’t really openly discussed in the Philippines…
IN THE SHADOWS
Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines, this is worth stressing. Penalties vary, up to life imprisonment for those involved in trafficking (covered by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003).
No, the country doesn’t distinguish between sex work and prostitution; here, those in the sex industry are largely considered as in need of being “saved”. Not just the body, too; but also the “soul”.
But – get this – prostitution is actually openly tolerated – e.g. let’s stop pretending we don’t know what many GROs actually do; what masseurs offer when they say “E.S.”; and that there are local government units that give workers (of bars, spas, massage parlors, KTV bars, and so on) “pink cards” to guarantee that they are STI-free and are “sexually clean/safe”.
And really, except for the occasional “saving” of trafficked people (who are then turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development) we see in TV, the deafening silence on this is what’s remarkable.
This silence is… worrisome.
Particularly because this continues to happen; and yes (yet again), exacerbated by Covid-19.
What the GC members I’ve come across in Facebook are doing aren’t new, actually. The Philippines – dearies – isn’t excluded from the “oldest profession in the world.” This, obviously, includes male sex workers (befitting the handling of this topic here).
Consider that in 2003, the University of the Philippines’ Population Institute and Demographic Research and Development Foundation released the 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS3) that noted that about 11% of sexually active young people aged 15-24 did it with someone of the same sex. Of this figure, 87% are men who have sex with men (MSM; meaning they may not self-identify as gay or bi, but have sex with other men).
Here’s what’s worth stressing in UP’s study: Almost half of those who had same-sex encounters also engaged in commercial sex. Approximately 19% paid for sex, while 11% received payment for sexual favors.
At that time, Dr. Corazon Raymundo, project coordinator of YAFS3, stated that it appears that in a fast changing world, the “usual norms and expectations do not hold true anymore.”
There are too many interconnected issues that should be considered here…
There’s poverty; and how this forces people to do things they may not otherwise do.
There’s the continuing lack of government support for its people; otherwise, those who do not want to sell themselves wouldn’t be forced to do so – e.g. selling oneself for “online classes”; because of loss of employment; etc.
There’s the pervasive ignorance re the sex industry; this is what leads to the abuse of those involved in it because – since they are considered illegal to begin with – they can’t even access State support if they are abused, etc.
There’s the impact of tech on the industry.
There’s the ongoing hypocrisy re this – e.g. church people want to “save” sex workers; but ask them to give these same people job in the church, and start counting how many reasons they can come up with just to (basically) say “No way!”.
There’s the continuing “punishment” of those in the sex industry; and yet… look at how the patrons get away with “buying” (e.g. the GCs in Facebook blatantly haggle with the service providers, demanding for the absurd while asking to lower the prices).
There’s the continuing ignoring of the sexual and reproductive health concerns of Filipinos.
There’s the silence re this; it’s staring us in the face, and we don’t even talk about this.
And on, and on, and on we go…
In the end, this needs to be tackled. No matter your angle” – e.g. because it inadvertently signifies the adverse effects of Covid-19 on poorer sectors of society; because it highlights government inaction/misaction; because it needs to be monitored as a health issue; because you’re self-righteous and you want to “save” them all; etc. – this shouldn’t, couldn’t be ignored. Covid-19 is re-emphasizing what was already there; and so please… just address this already…
Enter the alter world
Welcome to the alter world, where people tweet and retweet their or other people’s sexual engagements. Though often maligned, it actually also highlights formation of friendships, info sharing, emotional support, and even provision of a ‘safe space’ for those who wish to express their sexuality.
Some time back, Kurt (a.k.a. @MoanerBottom) opened a Twitter account as a form of revenge. “I found out that my ex had an ‘alter’ account and he was fooling around with different people,” he recalled. And so “I wanted to prove to him that I can also do the same thing.”
Little did Kurt know at that time that he would become a mainstay in the alter world/community. A few months since opening his own alter account, he garnered over 130,000 followers, all of them craving – and even waiting – for what he would post, usually dominated by sexual encounters (“kalat videos,” he calls them) with mostly students, including a basketball varsitarian “who likes to penetrate deeply”, a Blue Eagle who allowed for his orgasm to be videoed, a Tamaraw who also allowed himself to be videoed as he orgasmed, and bending for a Red Lion.
“I must admit that I am a shy person in real life,” Kurt said. But “here in Twitter, it is like I have less shame and more courage to do kalat (contextually: shameless) posts and videos.”
Kurt is, obviously, only one of the people – not just Filipinos – with alter accounts, which many like him, say is similar to a “pseudonym — like Batman to Bruce Wayne, or Superman to Clark Kent; where people can have a separate account from their primary accounts, usually used to express themselves more ‘wildly’ yet more ‘discreetly’/anonymously.”
And so welcome to the alter world, where people tweet and retweet their or other people’s sexual “collaborations”, hookups, fetishes, fantasies and social engagements, with the audiences often never really knowing the content generators/producers/distributors.
That the alter world is often dominated by sexual content is a given.
Onin (a.k.a. @Onin_NuezPH), for example, sees his alter account “as an avenue for me to express myself and my sexuality. I am able to let everyone know within the community about my sexual desires without the fear of being judged.”
Looking back, it was actually “a friend who is an alter too introduced me in this alter community,” Onin said.
One of the early instances Onin trended was when some of his nude photos circulated on Twitter. Many got curious, asking the person who previously reacted or shared the photos if there were more.
It whetted Onin’s interest; and so he started posting more photos and short videos. His followers quickly increased, reaching more than 145,000.
Taking pride that he is one of the more talked about alters out there, Onin has produced content that may seem trivial… but these have been keeping the alter community and lurkers interested, from balancing a shampoo bottle on top of his erect penis, sharing a photo of his endowment while asking his followers if they want to kneel in front him, a comparison of the length of a deodorant spray with his penis, wearing a see-through underwear, and teasing his latest sexual collaboration.
Standing out in a platform where hundreds (even thousands) of alters saturate news feeds is a challenge. After all, it is not an easy feat to attract someone’s attention — what more to make them like, share, or follow an account.
For FUCKER Daddy (a.k.a. @ako_daddy), therefore, it all comes down to the type of content being posted, not just being well-endowed, willing to perform bareback sex, or how often the face is shown.
A licensed professional who has a son, FUCKER Daddy started as a “lurker’ (i.e. one who lurks, or just consumes content/views profiles) on Twitter. At that time, he wrote “my real-life sex stories, hoping it will pick up from there,” he recalled. “Unfortunately, alter peeps seem to be more into live action.”
And so FUCKER Daddy met someone from Telegram, without realizing that the person was “sort of (a) big (personality) on Twitter.” This guy discretely took a short clip of their sexual encounter, and then posted it on his alter account. “It was hit. (And) the rest is history.”
By August 2019, FUCKER Daddy said his inbox started receiving direct messages from different users – e.g. asking for more, congratulating him, wanting to collaborate, and so on.
He actually now has several sex videos in his cam. But he still doesn’t make recording the primary thing when engaging in sex “as my goal is to have hookups; videos are only secondary.”
Besides, he said that “I do not want to spoil the moment for sex and think only of it as merely for Twitter.”
But every time FUCKER Daddy posts a video, he said his over 95,000 followers respond to them “with enthusiasm, getting more curious and intrigued.”
Making a living
The concept of alter, however, isn’t set in stone.
For one, there are actually alter accounts whose owners prefer to use their real names and show their faces (like Onin), mixing their personal and private lives along the way. Following the Batman/Bruce Wayne and Superman/Clark Kent analogy, there are also people who follow the Tony Stark/Iron Man mantra, i.e. openly announcing that they are one and the same.
Secondly, monetizing is actually possible.
Also, one may be part of the alter community without knowing it – i.e. one engages in alter activities without recognizing it as such.
“I do not even know that I am involved in the world of alter,” John said, adding that he did not even know what the term meant until it was presented to him. Instead, his account is used to “promote my RentMen and OnlyFans accounts”, just as he also promotes his availability for “personal appointment to people.”
John actually used to work as a brand ambassador, but because of this change in his work, he “can no longer work (in) that (field) because I am doing porn.”
He admitted that “this type of thing is double-edged.” On the one hand, “you can earn a great amount of money,” he said, “but there will be sacrifices.”
He noted, for instance, that the perception of people about me changed; most people judge you right away because of what you do, and not because of who you are as a person.”
But he ignores the naysayers; “I do not mind because this job gives more than what I expected!”
Like John, Onin also promotes his JustFor.Fans (JFF) account on Twitter to respond to the requests of his followers.
“They (my followers) want to see me in action and they are willing to subscribe too,” Onin said, with his exclusive content including: he and his partner having sex, and collaborations with other alters. “You will not earn that much, but pretty enough to compensate for the contents that we are posting.”
Not all alters think alike, obviously. FUCKER Daddy, for instance, won’t monetize his content, saying: “I value sex as it was created. I never sell any (videos) because I think it is something that is worth free. I simply treated it as making memories while those (who) watch put up the numbers.”
Behind the handles
The world of alter has actually already caught the attention of researchers.
For instance, in a study by Samuel Piamonte of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Mark Quintos of De La Salle University Manila, and Minami Iwayama of Polytechnic University of the Philippines, it was found that the alter community may seem overtly sexual, but there is more to it than that.
“The sexual aspect of alter is the core of alter, but it has been enriched by more complex social benefits to users such as including formation of new friendships, sharing of information and advocacies, reciprocations of emotional support, and provision of a ‘safe space’ for those who wish to express their sexuality but find that doing so outside of the alter community could be met with stigma from their peers and family.”
Kurt sees his alter account as an avenue for him to tap his inner self and show the Twitter universe his kalat. Onin uses his alter account to broadcast his sexual side (together with his partner). And FUCKER Daddy uses his alter account as “a constant source of info, hookups, convo… and to learn social demographics as well.”
The evolution, indeed, continues.
Hate from within the community
Yes, yes, yes… with increasing numbers of followers, multiple likes and shares, and the creation of alter “celebrities”, this has not been spared from criticisms.
And sadly, said Kurt, at least in the Philippine setting, the prejudice against alters comes from within the community. “Kapuwa LGBT ang nagsisiraan at nagpapataasan sa isa’t-isa,” he said. “I know… that I cannot please everyone (but) for me it is okay, as long as I know that I am not doing anything wrong.”
Perhaps a “surprise” is the audience’s inability to “appreciate” the free content given them, with Kurt noting that there are times when “they are also pissed off with the things I post.”
This seems to contradict the findings of Piamonte, Quintos and Iwayama, since – here – the alter community can become a fearful place, too.
John, like Kurt, noted how people resort to demeaning others when they do not fit preconceived notions. But he just laughs this off, saying: “Do not hate me because I look good and make money (from) it. Life is too short to be a bitter person. If you do not like what we do, then shut the fuck up.”
The Pandora’s box, so to speak has been opened; and lessons learned along the way can just “make you stronger and bring out the best in you,” said Onin, who like many alters, “just focus on my goals.” And it is exactly because of the existence of this interchange – the content creation, and the love-hate reaction to what’s created – that alter is not going to disappear anytime soon (or at all).
Details and photos of sexual encounters were lifted from the Twitter accounts of the interviewees.
Simple but effective tips on how you can better protect trans women
Given that our lives are considered less than a lot of people, it’s easy for trans women to become victims of violence and for the perpetrator to get away with it. So our best defense against any untoward incident is to always think of our security and the security of our friends.
These are simple but effective tips on how you can better protect the trans women in your lives in the context of a night that could go wrong. Given that our lives are considered less than a lot of people, it’s easy for trans women to become victims of violence and for the perpetrator to get away with it.
So our best defense against any untoward incident is to always think of our security and the security of our friends.
If you are hooking up with someone, ALWAYS send a picture of the person you are hooking up with to people you trust with your life. If you are hooking up with someone from a club, bar, or any public place, ask your friend to take your picture with the person you’d be with. This can be de done discreetly or with the permission of the other person. When asking permission, tell the person that you’re taking his/her picture for security purposes.
If you are going to someone else’s house for a booty call, send your GPS location via Whatsapp OR text the address of your location to people you trust.
If you are walking someone home or dropping them off, do not leave until the person is already inside his/her house. Do not let your drunk or high friend go home alone, either invite your friend to your house or accompany them home.
4. “I’M SAFE” CALL/TEXT.
Always demand an “I’m safe” call/text from your friend as soon as they’re home.
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