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From the Editor

On rapists and molesters in the gay and bisexual community… and the enablers among us

“Rape happens among us, too; it could be done by LGBTQIA people; and at times and even when we don’t intend to, we actually end up supporting the rapists and attack the victims. Abuse is not normal; as an abused community, we – of all people – should know this. And so we should watch after each other even if it’s from each other.”

The first time I met E (who hails from a city in Metro Manila) was in a gathering of a “clan” (an informal group of men who have sex with men who usually first meet through social media, and then eventually meet in physical spaces to become “friends” of some sort, thus “clan”) in Las Piñas City. Pre-pandemic, his “friends” already gossiped about his character – i.e. he sleeps around, though more particularly, he slept with almost all of the members of that clan, with his interest specifically focused on newbies and those already with partners.

And yes, there were those extremely serious allegations about him forcing himself on others, since – it was “explained” to me – for this person, it was never just about sex; instead, it was the “power” to claim he had someone first… or if someone is already partnered, then he can break relationships by making someone leave his partner to be with him.

I’ve also already chatted with him numerous times, when I’ve raised the issue of consent, so I’d argue that he actually knew what he was doing (or at least he was made aware of it). And yet his acts were always premised on “the guy wanted it” (i.e. “Ginusto niya eh!“). And so sadly, he also never showed remorse, only this warped sense of “It’s not my fault I’m beautiful” (he actually stated this many times, i.e. “Kasalanan ko bang maganda ako?“). Also even then, none of his friends held him accountable, or even called him out; instead, they “babied” him, actually justifying his actions as something that “comes in the territory of being beautiful”.

Photo by Abith Biju C from Pexels.com

E’s very presence stressed two things to me:

  1. The there are abusers within the LGBTQIA community; and
  2. That other LGBTQIA people are enablers.

Three instances happened to stress these to me.

To start, E actually allegedly forced himself on the BF of one of the founders of that clan in Las Piñas. And, to my surprise, the leaders of that clan (including the BF of the guy who had sex with E) all sided with E. The excuses they provided, including to me, were numerous – that if the BF didn’t want to have sex with E, he could have said no; that E is a slut by nature, so those who cave in would be at fault; et cetera. E was never held accountable for targeting the BF in the first place, knowing he was dating a supposed friend. And then, they eventually kicked off the BF… and continued babying E.

I’d argue that E was emboldened, and I’d also argue that E just worsened. A few years ago, he started sharing stories about having sex with someone I personally know. But then the guy he said he had sex with is actually a close friend, and he personally told me that while something happened between them, it was not consensual. At least not for him. Apparently, they met at a social gathering (while I was out of the country, which was why I didn’t witness the meeting). And at that time, E allegedly forced him to drink and drink and drink lambanog until he blacked out. E’s friends were all there when it happened, and even if they knew what E was planning, none of them stopped him. And so when my friend woke up, he alleged that he found E already all over his naked body. And then, of course, E started spreading the news of his “conquest”, when really… it’s rape, wasn’t it? Or if we don’t want to use the word “rape” (particularly since no court said that this crime was committed at all), that would still qualify as nonconsensual sex, wouldn’t it? Too bad, too, that post-event, his friends basically patted him on the back for his “achievement”. One time, I heard two of these friends saying something like: “You got him first, good on you!” Now if that’s not an example of enabling, I don’t know what is…

And then it happened again, with yet another person dear to me. Same tactic: he allegedly got the guy so drunk that this guy was no longer in any position to make proper decisions. Since they were in a drinking session, this guy excused himself to pee; and when he went out of the toilet, E was there, allegedly immediately kneeling to attempt to suck this guy. The next days, E supposedly bragged to his friends again about his “achievement”, particularly since this person was already in a relationship. The news reached me because this guy told me, particularly when E allegedly started stalking him in Grindr, telling him that since E already had him anyway, then they should meet again to “finish the deed”… with the guy’s BF not knowing.

One of E’s friends also eventually told me about this case, saying that this was the last straw for him. I should be glad that this third instance was – finally – a wake up call for this particular clan-mate; this should be seen as a welcome development. But what’s still weird for me was this person’s disgust in E doing what he did with a partnered person, and NOT that he does it to begin with. E was plain wrong… no matter who he did it to. And sanctions should have come years before.

Also, and still sadly, I was told that E actually still has his supporters in the clan, still justifying E’s actions since for them, the guys that E forced himself on “had a choice”. Enabling, apparently, is blind; or at least knows no shame. Even when the alleged crimes are already serial.

And so this is more than just about E or people like him. It’s about all of us, though more particularly those who actively enable the likes of him by cheering them on, egging them on, not saying anything, et cetera.

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We – as gay and bisexual men – need to constantly evaluate where we’re at as far as this is concerned. Rape is rape; forcing oneself on others is never right, no matter the sexual orientation or gender identity and expression of those who do this or those who become victims of this. That the victims were drunk or not doesn’t matter. What they wore or didn’t wear don’t matter. That they may seem to have “given consent” in their intoxicated state is no excuse to do what you want to do to them, particularly knowing you got them drunk to get your way.

I know a court needs to declare that a crime has been committed. No complaint, no case filed… so the crime may as well did not happen. And I’ve spoken with the three people mentioned here that E allegedly victimized, and they now tend to just dismiss what E did as something that “just happened”, and something that won’t happen again. I may burn inside, thinking that if it’s me, I’d see E in jail. Alas… how they face what happened to them is their call; I can only offer support.

I would like to give E a “chance”; more chance than he deserves, I’d say. After all, this may just be a case of “he said” versus “he said”. But we’re not even talking of one allegation here. Exactly how many such cases should happen before we admit E’s on the wrong? How many victims do we invalidate just to make E the “hero” here?

This should also be a continuing wake up call to all gay and bisexual men, that:

  1. rape happens among us, too;
  2. rape can be – and actually is – committed by members of the gay and bisexual community; and
  3. there are times – and even when we don’t intend to – that we actually end up supporting the perpetrators of crimes, and even attack the victims.

Abuse is not “normal”. As an abused community, we – of all people – should know this. And so we should watch after each other even if it’s from each other.

Stop normalizing abuses; stop “celebrating” as “success” molestations and nonconsensual sex; and stop encouraging rapists (alleged or proven) to do what they’re doing as long as they “share” what they did to you. Start calling them out; start sending them to jail if you can; and start supporting the victims.

So that the likes of E – not so dissimilar from the likes of Vic Fabe, if you remember him – are prevented from doing what they’re doing and getting away with it. Because if they actually thrive because of our inaction… then we’re also to blame for the crimes they continue doing.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).

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