(Another) OPEN LETTER TO ANTHONY TABERNA
(AND TO IBA BALITA, AND STUDIO 23, FOR THAT MATTER)
The errors of your coverage of the LGBT community were already pointed out in the past by the likes of Mr. Ron de Vera of Amnesty International (who similarly wrote an open letter to you on September 22, 2011). Yet, in your handling of the news that the PNP is open to accepting LGBTs in your program Iba Balita on May 25, 2012, you continued to:
- be ill-informed (e.g. you actually referred to people who undergo sex reassignment surgery as “transvestites”);
- promote stereotypes (e.g. you said you don’t mind LGBTs joining the military, as long as they don’t “show” their being LGBTs – as if there is a “uniform” way of being as a member of the LGBT community; and
- be derisive of members of the LGBT community (e.g. your assumption that gays, for simply being gays, do the “tsunami walk”).
This, to me, highlights two things.
Firstly, that there are no LGBT community members who took time to inform you of the errors in your beliefs, thus what you share to people watching you.
If this (the first point) is not your problem, then maybe – and secondly – you simply opt NOT to learn more about the LGBT community to TRULY understand it, so your beliefs continue to be erroneous. I truly hope this is not the case, because if this is so, then it would make you, well, homophobic.
Nonetheless, branding you a homophobe is unnecessary. LGBTs know too well how name-calling is not only painful, but can be counter-productive. I believe, though, that you need to be more gender-sensitive (this includes being LGBT-sensitive).
To help on this, I am sure I would be only one of the many LGBTs who would willingly allocate time to help provide you elucidation on everything LGBT-related. You only have to be willing to actually learn (and not be afraid that your antiquated beliefs will be shattered), and we can make this happen.
Mass media has long been a significant force in the formation of culture (sociologists call this “mediated culture”, where the media does not only reflect but also helps in the creation of culture). As such, we cannot emphasize enough how even seemingly unintended comments can have reverberating effects on the lives of people. We ask, therefore, that you be cautious when discussing LGBT issues, particularly since – even in these supposed more enlightened times – we continue to struggle in being accepted as equals of everyone.
We are always available to openly discuss our issues with you. We only hope that you actually start being open to this, too.
Very truly yours,
Michael David dela Cruz Tan