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Stop editing out the LGBT

Expressions of LGBT loving continue to be edited out, lately most prominently with the censorship of the kiss between Eric and Vincent of “My Husband’s Lover” and the kiss between Avril Lavigne and Danica McKellar in the music video of “Rock N Roll”. Michael David C. Tan believes this “makes it look like there is something shameful about us, about our expressions of our love”, and so has to be stopped.

YouTube screenshot of Glee's gay couple, Blaine and Kurt, sharing a loving moment.

Looking back (in 2011), it now seems… trivial for us to complain about Channel V Philippines’ censorship of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way by removing the LGBT reference.

After all, the LGBT community in the Philippines still has way too many issues to face.

I was in Davao City a few weeks back, for instance, and those working in the fight against HIV sadly told me that many people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Davao City and nearby areas just pass away because “wala man gud sila pamiliti aron mubalik sa treatment hubs para mukuha ug tambal (they couldn’t even afford to pay their fare for them to visit hubs for treatment)”. Not that those who get treatment are better off; supposedly, as I was also told, “gina-rasyon ang anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) diri kay mahudtan man gud mi ug supply (our ARVs are rationed because we run out of supplies).” This inadvertently affects compliance, with cases of ART cessation actually happening.

And then, also a few weeks back, we’ve been informed of hate crimes committed against LGBT people in some areas in Mindanao – and solely because they belong to the LGBT community. At least one politician claimed that “‘yung mga bakla, hindi sila pinapatay dahil bakla sila; pinapatay sila kasi bugaw sila (gay men were not killed because they were gay; they were killed because they were pimps)”. Except that… heterosexual pimps are spared from the killings.

And then there’s the ongoing issue of many Deaf LGBT Filipinos who, even if many have university degrees, are unable to find employment – and not only because they are differently abled, but also because they are LGBT. As Deaf LGBT activists say, “being LGBT is a multiplying factor to the discrimination.”

And then there’s the discrimination encountered in communities, even in areas that already supposedly protect LGBT people – think Cebu City, where an anti-discrimination ordinance was passed, yet transgender Filipinos continue to be openly discriminated against (barred from bars, from schools, et cetera).

So, yes, it may seem that there are other issues that definitely need more attention than something as “small” as… well, pop music.

Alas, in the fight for equal rights, there is NOTHING SO SMALL; EVERYTHING MATTERS.

And so we note again the censorship of:

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The kiss between Eric and Vincent of GMA Network’s My Husband’s Lover
The kiss between Avril Lavigne and Danica McKellar in MTV’s showing of the music video of Rock N Roll

Back in 2011, after we raised the issue, Channel V claimed that it’s “not homophobic in any way”, except that it gets its feeds from Hong Kong, which may edit these feeds. As channel head JM Rodriguez explained, “Ang lahat ng video from the label, if Hong Kong censored it, wala (kaming) magagawa.”

We think, though, that if the channel did not agree with Hong Kong’s editing of the feeds, it makes more sense getting the feeds elsewhere, where the unnecessary editing was not done?
Because (sad to say) by showing ONLY the versions that discriminate against LGBT people, the lesson that is taught is that it’s somehow okay to discriminate.
Edmund Burke’s oft-cited statement is apt here, i.e.:  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Also in 2011, ETC and Jack TV were criticized for censoring the kiss between Kurt and Blaine in American TV show Glee. When ETC responded to the complaints, it stated that:

The decision to censor the episode of Glee “Original Song” that aired last March 16, 2011 on ETC was made based on previous warnings the channel has received from MTRCB on scenes featuring kissing between people of the same sex. The channel censors content due to the mandate of the MTRCB and not by choice. ETC chooses to air “sanitized” episodes rather than not show them at all.

“Sanitized”?
Suddenly, sweeping us under the rugs (or, for that matter, cutting us out in the edit room) is a “sane” and “sanitary” thing to do?

Editing us out makes it look like there is something shameful about us, about our expressions of our love.
Editing us out shames us for being sexual (as if only heterosexuals can be sexual).
Editing us out stresses that position that we should only be tolerated if we play by “their” rules (that is, only “they” can have feelings).

Which leads back to the annoyance with the continuing censorship (e.g. My Husband’s Lover).

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And which is connected with the other LGBT issues we need to face.

Because for as long as we’re not seen as just like everybody, homophobes can continue their hating of us as the “others”.

This forced invisibility is – without a doubt – harming us.

In fairness, Glee’s gay kisses can now be seen by us in the Philippines.

And – guess what – THE WORLD DIDN’T END WHEN THESE GAY KISSES WERE SHOWN.

So please, PLEASE stop editing us out.

Because every time you do, you’re only highlighting your ignorance.

And unfortunately, we’re paying oh-so-dearly because of this ignorance.

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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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