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Facing the shaming head on

This remains common in a country like the Philippines: a bakla son has to “prove” his worth solely because by being bakla, he is supposed to be “worthless”. The sadder (saddest) part is, even if the gay son has already proven himself useful, it still isn’t enough because he remains… gay. Michael David C. Tan looks at why our concept of shame is F-ed up.

Hayaan mo na bakla. May silbi naman siya eh. Kahit papaano, nabawasan ang kahihiyan (Let him be, even if he’s gay. He’s not completely useless, anyway. That way, the shame he brings us is lessened).”

That was the statement of this nanay (mother) I met in Cotabato City, when she was asked by another nanay if it’s true that one of his sons is gay.

Sabagay (Oh well),” the other woman said, “hindi nasayang kasi may silbi (he isn’t wasted because he is making himself useful somehow).”

Silbi (usefulness)” in this gay son’s case meant owning and running a beauty parlor, the ONLY source of income for this nanay’s entire family (i.e. the nanay herself, her husband, her two other unemployed sons who are not bakla, the also-unemployed wives of these other sons, and the eight children that these straight brothers have).

Both of them didn’t see anything wrong with the way their discussion went; for them, the bakla son had to “prove” his worth solely because by being bakla, he is – for them – worthless.
The sadder (saddest) part is, even if the gay son has already proven himself useful, it still isn’t enough for them, solely because he remains… gay.

And this belief remains prevalent – marami ang pinaniniwalaan pa rin ito, maging ng ibang miyembro ng LGBT community.

There is a lesson that we need to push over and over and over again:
Hindi dapat basehan ng iyong halaga ang iyong kasarian (Your sexual orientation and gender identity and expression should not be the basis of your worth).

This may not sound nice, but most of these “shame”-linked beliefs tied with being bakla are actually based on ignorance (Masakit mang pakinggan, pero marami sa mga sinsabing kahihiyang ginagawa ng mga bakla ay dahil sa kakulangan sa kaalaman o kamangmangan ng mga taong nagsasabi nito, at naniniwala sa mga ito).

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How many times have I been asked where my beauty parlor is, after people find out I’m gay? I have – to be honest – lost count. But – no offense intended to those who work in beauty parlors – my response has always been the same: Hindi ho lahat ng bakla nagta-trabaho sa parlor; nasa lahat ho kami ng industriya (Not all gay men work in salons; we’re everywhere/in various industries).
I have met some who – despite my explanation – STILL pigeonhole gays as (ONLY) hairdressers, and let’s just say they no longer talk to me now…

A few years back, when I got sick, and auntie started telling other relatives that because I’m gay, “‘yang sakit niya, AIDS na ‘yan (he has AIDS).” She was already supposedly “educated” (after all, two of her children are in the medical field), but when I got sick again years later, the same auntie started talking to a sibling to “push” for her belief again: “HIV ‘yan (it’s HIV); bakla kasi.”
Two things were raised by numerous friends on this – and these are worth highlighting.
Una, hindi sakit ng bakla ang HIV (HIV is not a gay disease). Lahat po maaring magka-HIV (Everyone is at risk to get infected with HIV) – lalaki, babae, bakla, lesbiyana, matanda, bata, pari, politiko, artista (male, female, gay, lesbian, old, young, priests, politicians, actors/celebrities)…
If, until now, and after repeated educating, the stereotypes are chosen to be believed (particularly when confronted with facts), kamangmangan na po ‘yan (that’s already ignorance)…
TonTon Tero, president of ProGay Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City, told me that guys refuse to have sex with him and many of his friends because “madalas ‘yan ang pinaniniwalaan nila (Often, this is what they believe).”
The solution is to educate; but after educating, if they still refuse to believe, then we have to start calling them out already for this stupidity/ignorance…
The second point raised by HIV-positive friends is the shaming of those who have HIV. There is truly a fucked up identification of what we are supposed to be ashamed of. Former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr. has 72 children (that he acknowledges) from DIFFERENT WOMEN, and yet – in a supposedly largely Roman Catholic country like the Philippines – he was never lambasted for this. And then there’s Roman Catholic Bishop Teodoro Bacani, who was accused of sexually harassing his secretary in 2003. After issuing a statement saying he was “deeply sorry for the consequences of any inappropriate expression of affection to my secretary”, he shortly left the Philippines FOR A HOLIDAY IN AMERICA. And yet, there he is, still one of this country’s go-to in discussions of… morality.
Thus, for those who continue to discriminate against people with different sero-status, baguhin ninyo ang pananaw ninyo, dahil ang kakulangan ninyo ng kaalaman ang nakakahiya (change your perspectives because it’s your ignorance that is shameful).

Tandaan (Remember):
Wala pong kahiya-hiya sa pagiging bakla (There is nothing shameful about being gay).
Hindi ho dahil bakla tayo, kailangang patunayan natin ang halaga natin; mahalaga ka bilang ikaw (You don’t have to prove your worth just because you’re gay; you already have worth just by being you).

Ang dapat mahiya ay ‘yung mga binigyan na ng kaalaman, ngunit nananatili pa ring pinaglalaban ang napatunayan nang mali nilang pananaw. Dahil ito kadalasan ang nagiging sanhi ng mga pagkamuhi sa mundo. At sila ang dapat patunayan ang halaga/silbi nila…
(The people who should be ashamed are those who – even after they have been educated – continue to push for their beliefs that have already been proved erroneous. Because in most instances, these are the people who are the source of hatred in this world. And these people are the ones who need to prove their real worth…)

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