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Op-Ed

Confronting LGBT stereotypes

Contributing writer Cheska Robles continues to come across LGBT-related stereotypes, and she admits that “I used to believe in these stereotypes back when I didn’t know any better. Although I do question some of the stereotypes about our community.”

Stereotypes. There will always be stereotypes in any community, in any society, in any culture. The LGBT community is no different.

Honestly, I used to believe in these stereotypes back when I didn’t know any better. Although I do question some of the stereotypes about our community.

When we think of a gay guy, or in our terms the bakla, we automatically think of a guy who is feminine or acts feminine, a guy who seems to be too “soft” in his movements and someone who talks a lot. But if you think about it, are all gay men really feminine? There are gay men who are masculine, who likes sports, who still like “guy stuff”. Being gay also seems to portray weakness in a man. For some, being a gay man means he is not a “real man”. But what is a “real” man?

Young boys get teased in school if they seem weak, and are teased by being called “gay”. Thus these young boys have this notion that gay means weak, which I believe is not true. The term bakla implies being an effeminate man, or even weak female. That may be why for some people, being called bakla is an insult because it is like telling them they are weak or that they may not have a bright future ahead.  We know better; we all know that there are a lot of gay men who are very successful in life.

In the lesbian community, we usually think that lesbians are boyish females. Local terms abound, and we usually refer to these lesbians as tibo or tomboy.  But in fact, not all lesbians are boyish. There are lesbians that are still very feminine.  Interestingly, there is no Tagalog term for a feminine lesbian.

In another context, the lesbian community is easily divided into the “butch” and “femme” lesbians, with the butch lesbians being the boyish females, or what we call as tibo, and the femme lesbians those very feminine lesbians.

There is also the tendency to assume that in same sex relationships, there is a “guy” and a “girl” in the relationship. In fact, it is possible to have two “guys” and two “girls” in terms of gender roles. I do know of a lesbian couple who are both femmes, so that – yes – this, too, is very possible. I remember asking one of them who was the “guy” in their relationship, and she told me that there was none. I have learned then that, apparently, no one has to be the “guy” in a relationship.

I think the reason why we believe that there should be a “guy” in same sex relationships is because we continue to compare same sex relationships to the heteronormative relationships that we’ve all accepted as “normal”. I think it’s the coping mechanism of most people so that they can accept same sex relationships.

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