No more tiptoeing
(Thanks, Ms Bemz Benedito)
“Matanda ka na kasi.”
That I am too old (or at least I was acting like some “aged queen”) was what three gay men and a lesbian told me as my problem. We were in a meeting (sometime in the middle of the first decade of the naughties), and I was asked for my opinion on an editorial line-up (for a now-defunct LGBT magazine) that mainly consisted of: pages after pages allocated for photos of beautiful people in dance parties; pages after pages allocated for the clothes and accessories that these beautiful people in these dance parties wear (and maybe others will want to wear, too); and some articles featuring these beautiful people and their partying lifestyles.
“Where are the articles?” was my one question. The apparent lack of “contents” about the LGBT community outside of the party scene was, for me, an issue.
And that was when I was told that my way of seeing was “too old”. That I, myself, am old (yes, the ageism is tiresome; but that’s for another write-up)…
The young ones, supposedly, only party (“Enough of the pakikibaka,” one of them said). And they tend to be beautiful (“It’s all about putting the best foot forward,” another said). And they have lives worth emulating (“So we should feature their successes,” yet another said).
The curious thing was, these people were actually MY age; we belonged in THE SAME GENERATION. And yet it’s just my way of seeing (and not theirs) that was “old”.
I said my piece, and then I left that meeting.
That magazine eventually folded up (focus group discussions noted that the readers got tired of seeing the same people on the cover, and in the inside pages of the magazine; and how these people’s LGBT-related contributions are not apparent).
If there’s one regret from my end, though, it’s my decision not to push for my way of seeing things to be considered. I let them run over me, even if I could have spoken more firmly.
After all, their approach backfired.
And maybe – just maybe – if I insisted and some form of a compromise was reached, that much-needed media in the LGBT community in the Philippines wouldn’t have disappeared.
My silence so as not to offend now haunts me…
This approach – keeping your opinion to yourself, as it’s what’s “respectful”/”respectable”, thus what’s desired – I have come to acknowledge as a form of tiptoeing. Akin to the “walking on eggshells” idiom – except, for me, it’s even more similar to walking on wine glasses, with the risk involving NOT only the breaking of the glasses, but the wounding of oneself from the shards.
Our silence can be harmful to our cause/s. And to ourselves.
The thing, though, is the repeat of the same in many instances that I get myself involved in.
Letting mature-aged relatives continue believing – and telling me openly at that – that my life is lived in sin because I am gay. I am not, however, supposed to say anything, simply because “hayaan mo na sila; matatanda na mga ‘yan (no need to confront them, as they’re already old)”, as one auntie told me.
Letting people fix the results of competitions, since this is supposedly the only way for the results to reflect the “real sentiment of the people”.
Letting people get away with their practices, even if I don’t agree with it – and mainly because of supposed cultural differences that I have to respect, else be deemed a “colonizer” of some sort.
Letting people believe their LGBT-related efforts are great, even if – in truth – they are doing more harm to the supposed markets that they are serving (and simply because they are blinded by their claimed “successes”).
And there are more…
But no more of this tiptoeing.
Because I am angry.
Angry for what’s wrong to continue happening.
And angry at myself for my inaction, and how this lets the wrong off the hook.
Yes, anger is not for everyone.
But if the expression of anger is the only way to be noticed, then this becomes mandatory.
We are, in fact, not angry enough.
And no, you don’t have to agree with me.
But you listen to me.
Just as I listen to you.
Even if I don’t necessarily agree with you.
Because, in the end, I don’t have to be disrespected for me to be respectful.
So expect me to be “rude” (if that’s how you’d refer to being straightforward).
No more tiptoeing.
Because at times (most times, in fact, in the lives of LGBTs), there is just no other way to be, to be heard.