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Op-Ed

Terrible excuses for Pacquiao’s common sense

Peter Jones Dela Cruz: “I’ve had my share of slurs sent in my direction as I tried to criticize Manny Pacquiao’s views. But I didn’t complain. You know why? I’m used to these abusive tactics. They bother me, but they don’t hurt me anymore. But it’s funny when you cry foul when you get a dose of your own medicine.”

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You may think you can excuse the boxing champ for his remarks about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Let me tell you why I think you should reevaluate your excuses.

He was just stating his opinion.

Of course. But what if I told you you’re a disgusting critter, and then I said it was just an opinion? Does the excuse cut it? What if I told you you shouldn’t eat shrimp because I was allergic to it? Does saying it’s just my opinion excuse me from being a meddlesome despot?

People use this notorious excuse to block criticism. It’s not a good excuse. Put opinion out there, and it’s free for public consumption and criticism.

Everyone can make an opinion. But the question is, whose opinion makes sense? We can’t just sit down and accept any opinion thrown at us. We respect opinions that have basis. Manny’s opinion was neither factual nor reasonable. He got it wrong when he said there were no male to male or female to female animal partnerships in the first place.

He already apologized.

If I told you – as in anyone who’s reading this – your mother looked like a whore and said I was sorry, but maintained she looked like a whore, is that an apology?

Apologies constitute admitting one’s mistake and putting forth the right or better words to say. Manny did nothing of these to appease the aggrieved community. He maintained he was only invoking the Bible, including the verses that include killing gay people. These verses are the reason a lot of gay people in different parts of the world are persecuted. This fundamentalism spawns the worst cases of homophobia. No fundie has ever said sorry for all the victims of antigay oppression.

Is there a way we could shed reason to fundamentalism? Sometimes I wonder how we should deal with this issue. When you step back to see the bigger picture, you see Manny as the tiny dot among the swarm of people in a dogmatic culture. That’s scarier than his unscientific version of common sense, and that’s something an insincere apology cannot fix.

He brought honor to the country.

Of course, we know that. However, that’s not the point. His grand achievements in the world of boxing has nothing to do with the issue. The issue is the intolerance and gross ignorance of the marriage equality advocacy.

It’s also unfair when people think we’re being unfair to someone who has put the Philippines in the pedestal in the field of boxing. Suddenly, the issue turned into shaming the LGBT advocates for bullying him and his family online.

Just because he brought honor to the country doesn’t mean he can say anything stupid and get away with it. In addition, someone vying for a position in the senate should have been more responsible in his opinions.

He was only quoting the Bible.

When Manny asked for an apology, he quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9 and then included Leviticus 20:13 in his Instagram post, which he afterwards deleted.

Anyone can take refuge in the Bible because this old collection of stories and cryptic passages is interpreted in different ways. Liberal and conservative Christians take them differently. But as expected, the fundamentalists take the Leviticus 18:22 or Romans 1:26-27 as antigay passages.

It’s hard to challenge the Bible because challenging it means offending people who adhere to it and take it as the source of their moral code. But there’s something to say about literalists who take these unfriendly passages selectively and use them to debase a group of people.

Sometimes I wonder what the problem is. Is it the people who use the Bible to oppress and ridicule people? Or is it the Bible, which offers egomaniacs the tools to use for their bigotry.

The average Christian doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the historical and semantic context of everything that’s written in the Bible. Thus, many seemingly cruel and inhuman passages go ignored, but a few of these are used against a group of people, the LGBT people in this case.

In addition, a thorough examination reveals the cultural influence on the books of the Bible, depicting how the writers would have wanted people to live their lives then. That’s why I ask, what is the practical significance of Biblical dogma in today’s time? Should we treat the Bible as the source of our moral code today? Or should we just treat it as a literary reference whose moral correctness is arbitrary and therefore not absolute?

A public servant invoking the Bible does disservice to people who don’t adhere to it, which by the way include a lot of Christians. Besides, what is the practical value of quoting Leviticus passages? What message does that send to young LGBT people, that some Bible fanatic out there could be murdering gay people in the name of his faith?

He was right.

Before you can claim all he said was right, you have to ask the following questions:

Is his claim based on facts?

Is his claim reasonable?

Is his claim consistent with other claims?

Is he saying an absolute truth?

What are the practical implications of his claims?

Which part of his statements were right? First, his claim that homosexuality doesn’t exist in animals is wrong.

Second, does saying that same-sex marriage is wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong reasonable? Does the Bible say it’s wrong? He invoked Leviticus, for instance. To whom was the Book of Leviticus written? Does he know what the passages actually meant or he just interpreted it based on his bias?

Third, is there a consensus among scholars regarding the interpretation of these passages? If none, then whose “truth” do we go with? In addition, supposing for purposes of argument we say the Bible says it’s wrong, why then does it say it’s wrong?

Fourth, does the claim that same-sex relationship is wrong and immoral remain true in all situations? Suppose we discuss the topic outside the fringes of religion, does it remain wrong and immoral?

Then there’s the scary part, the practical implications of an opinion. Look at how LGBT people are treated in deeply religious countries and you see the implications of these deeply held religious teachings unchallenged by the scared and oppressed minority and encouraged by the status quo.

He was misquoted.

Does it matter?

Is there is any real difference between saying that gays are worse than animals and saying that people are worse than animals if they allowed gay marriage? The first one is blatantly homophobic. The second one remains homophobic but has added coercive undertones. It’s like saying we shouldn’t allow gay marriage because we’re better than animals. Besides, the vagueness of his opinion lends itself to either interpretations.

Either way we go, it doesn’t sound like a well thought out claim because it was anchored in his baseless “common sense” that animals do not practice homosexuality. Either way, it is offensive. Either has bad implications for gay and lesbian people.

He can’t be antigay because he has gay friends.

“I have a lot of gay friends…” is a common and tired rhetoric to rationalize antigay remarks. It’s also dishonest. How can you stay friends with gay people when deep inside you don’t hold them in the same regard as your straight friends? So you’re saying you like your gay friends, but you don’t like seeing them get married with their partners and you don’t like them to enjoy the same rights you do.

Claiming you have gay friends is different from actually supporting their struggle and regarding them to be your equal in terms of rights and social privileges. How can you stay friends with them if you think their plight is irrelevant and their “lifestyle,” base?

Okay, so you actually have friends who are alcoholics or drug addicts, but you hate alcoholism and drug addiction? Great! But that’s a bad analogy. Or you can show me how drug addiction, for instance, is equivalent to same-sex romance.

Vice Ganda is a hypocrite. Boy Abunda, too emotional.

I lament that the LGBT response to Rep. Pacquiao’s stance was reduced to Vice Ganda’s and Boy Abunda’s responses. You have leveraged the comedian’s crude retorts to fuel your subservience to dogma. You have disparaged our plight because you think the popular members of our community were unable to handle the issue with sophistication. But were your remarks sophisticated?

These people, though popular and respected in their fields, do not speak for the entire community. Their responses are their responses alone, and I am not going to say they’re wrong. I can’t take away their freedom to express their ire. The outrage was expected. What did you expect, all smiles after an inhuman remark? In an article entitled “World-Class Asshole,” Teddy Locsin, Jr. said, “I was not surprised when gays in showbiz gave it to him. I was surprised that some of them forgave him.”

I have to remind you that like any community, the LGBT community is filled with people of different personalities and intellectual capacities. I, for instance, have no control over what people in this community will say. But while many of us resort to acerbic rants – just like a lot of you on that side hurl your slurs in this direction – many of us, too, are trying our best to put the discourse on a rational level devoid of expletives and cuss words. So if you want this to be a rational battle and you’re looking at Vice Ganda’s quips, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.

However, the most important thing you have to remember in dealing with this issue is that Vice Ganda’s hypocrisy and Boy Abunda’s manner of expressing their indignation are not the issue. By resorting to this trick, you are trying to divert the issue from Manny’s lack of understanding of the LGBT rights and secularism to the responses of certain people, which are after all expected. This is a lame tactic to take naive people away from what should be discussed.

Moreover, these two celebrities are not after a seat in the senate, where people draft laws that affect your lives.

The LGBT people are bullying Manny.

Bullying actually went both ways. So what’s the point? Manny made a statement. The LGBT people and their allies got angry and reacted. Then the minions from the offending camp retaliated. Zoom out to get a God’s eye view of the scene and you’ll see how much the religious bullies vastly outnumber the pro-LGBT bullies.

I’ve seen some of the vilest retorts from the meanest of your camp. I’ve had my share of slurs sent in my direction as I tried to criticize Manny Pacquiao’s views. But I didn’t complain. You know why? I’m used to these abusive tactics. They bother me, but they don’t hurt me anymore. But it’s funny when you cry foul when you get a dose of your own medicine.

Also, let’s be realistic and look at the implications of both types of bullying. I have yet to hear anti-LGBT folks succumbing to depression and suicidal thoughts because of LGBT rights movement. However, I’ve read a lot of stories of people getting killed, committing suicide, or suffering from depression because of religious dogma, stuff that most anti-LGBT people live and swear by, albeit selectively.

Jose Rizal also compared people to animals.

“Ang taong di marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda.” – Jose P. Rizal (They who do not love their own language are worse than animals and putrid fish.)

I have to admit this was a clever quip, except that people ignored an important difference between Rizal’s famous line and Manny’s infamous remark. Whereas Manny was talking about same-sex relationships, Rizal was talking about lack of patriotism. If there is any equivalence between same-sex relationships and lack of patriotism, I’d like to know.

There are more important issues.

So your issues are irrelevant because the are people in worse situations? Maybe you shouldn’t complain about the mold in the kitchen because there are homeless kids, for example. Is that fair?

The “not as bad as” fallacy is the common rhetoric of the discrimination enablers (and climate change deniers). It’s true that poverty affects more people. It affects more people than antigay bigotry. But is it impossible to be indignant at poverty and anti-LGBT hate at the same time?

Waiting for poverty or territorial disputes to be resolved before attending to other problems solves nothing. If solutions are within reach for “smaller problems,” why not employ them? Moreover, poverty and gay rights are two separate issues that should be discussed independently.

Anyway, if there’s one thing I have to thank Manny Pacquiao for, it’s the chance he gave us to talk about same-sex marriage and to explain to people what it is and what it is not. The controversy gave us an opportunity to educate people.

Issues like this help us identify who our allies are and who among our friends secretly find our identities and romantic lives disgusting. It makes me realize where we are in terms of LGBT acceptance and how vastly uneducated and cruel a lot of people in this country are.

Peter Jones Dela Cruz is a gay demiguy, a heretic, and someone who believes popular opinion and norms should be challenged if they are devoid of reason. He yearns for a future wherein everyone is treated equally regardless of who they love or what they wear ― a future where labels no longer matter. Apart from ranting for LGBTQ rights, he also likes to snap pictures and sing covers.

Op-Ed

I may be HIV+ but that still doesn’t mean I’ll sleep with you

This is something every PLHIV needs to learn. That we are still “worth it”. Forget these notions of you being a “damaged good” or a “dirty person” or banalities given us along those lines. Because my HIV status is just one facet of my outrageous (and fabulous) personality; it does not define me.

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“I’m HIV-positive.”

That was the short sentence I remember telling this guy I used to date.

Okay – to backtrack – I met a guy while I was in Northern Mindanao. We dated for a while, and – at least I thought – things between us went smoothly for a while. I’d say he wasn’t bad-looking even if he looked somewhat common. He had one of those “if you stay long enough, I can teach myself to maybe even like you” face.

And then one night, we became more intimate than the usual. So I had to stop what we were doing (before we progressed further). And then – after prepping him up by first discussing with him his views about HIV and people living with HIV – I told him I had something important to tell him (if we were to advance what we had).

Thus that short sentence.

His face immediately changed; from what I saw was longing to… shocked. He couldn’t even say a word. And when he was finally able to utter a word, it was just to tell me that “I forgot I had to be elsewhere.”

The alibi was lame. But what made it more insulting was that I wasn’t even that into him to begin with; he was just a possible lay (if it came to that).

But that moment taught me two important things.

On one hand, how the sexuality of so many PLHIVs are tempered by their status.

I have frequently heard of medical practitioners who tell PLHIVs to “already stop having sex now that you’re HIV-positive; dadami pa kayo (you’d abet in increasing the number of PLHIVs)” – all too obviously unaware of safer sexual practices and U=U, among others. Worse, this sentiment is shared by a lot of PLHIVs themselves, who see their status as a “punishment”, and the only “cure” is to stop having sex altogether. Oh, please!

On the other hand, recognizing that being sexual doesn’t disappear (and doesn’t need to vanish) with being HIV-positive, there seems to be this supposition of PLHIVs being “desperate”.

That guy I dated, for instance, had every right NOT to have sex with me (it’s called power over one’s body); but that he had to lie just to get away from me was – to admit the truth – not only discourteous but even insulting. I suppose particularly because… I wasn’t even that into him.

Here’s the thing: Me living with HIV means just that – that I have HIV. But it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost my (yes!) sexual appetite and (for that matter) taste/preferences/standards on who to do it with.

And I believe this is something every PLHIV needs to learn. That we are still “worth it”. Forget these notions of you being a “damaged good” or a “dirty person” or banalities given us along those lines. Because my HIV status is just one facet of my outrageous (and fabulous) personality; it does not define me. And if (some) guys can’t see that, well…

Because remember dearie, just because I am HIV-positive still doesn’t mean I’ll sleep with you.

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From the Editor

Women are not ‘disgusting’; gay men are just not into them…

Why the need to demean women, or express disgust over their body parts, when we can just say, “No, we’re not into women”; or “I’m a man; but I’m (also) into men”?

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Time to unlearn sub-/unconscious misogyny.

Here’s the thing: With the demise of Christine Dacera, and with predominantly gay (and perhaps bi) men considered as suspects by the error-filled PNP (Philippine National Police), many members of the LGBTQIA community surfaced to defend members of the rainbow family.

Background info: Christine Dacera, a flight attendant, celebrated her New Year’s Eve with gay/bi friends in a hotel in Makati City. On New Year’s Day, her body was found lifeless. The PNP (pre-empting everything) pushed for questionable narratives – e.g. that she was “raped” (even if the autopsy report couldn’t validate this), and then committed inept acts – e.g. announcing the case to be “solved” when it really wasn’t, jailing three of the people who claimed to have helped Christine that night (with a judge ordering them to release the three; and then basically telling them to, yes, do their job properly), embalming the body before another (independent) autopsy can be done, etc.

It didn’t help PNP at all when one of its top brass stated that “gay men are still men” (Yes, sir, they are; DUH!) and insinuated that gayness can, basically, be cured by alcohol (that is, they’d start having sex with, or even rape women when they’re drunk).

Going online, among the statements of “support” for the gay/bi suspects, however, you’d find statements like “yuck”, gross ang vagina”, “babae, yuck”, “kadiri“, and so on. All these supposedly refer to what gay men “feel” when with women.

And let’s stop spewing these misogynistic statements.

Misogyny – that hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women (Merriam-Webster, 2021) – can be blatant. But it can also be “invisible”. And get this, even members of minority sectors – such as those from the LGBTQIA community – can be misogynistic.

This seeming disdain for women – or their body parts – is actually misogynistic.

If you think this I am making a big “leap” with this claim, consider that in Psychology Today, Dr. Berit Brogaard wrote that “in most cases, misogynists do not even know that they hate women.”

After all, why the need to demean women, or express disgust over their body parts, when we can just say, “No, we’re not into women”; or “I’m a man; but I’m (also) into men”?

The antiquated – and, well, fatuous – macho culture in PNP has been harming members of the LGBTQIA community. Let’s not become part of the problem by becoming just as antiquated and, yes, just as fatuous.

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From the Editor

To stand united, we also need to watch our tongues…

Our bigger enemy here is injustice… to everyone involved (i.e. Christine; her loved ones; and her friends, many of them treated – even without proof – with prejudice). And how this injustice can be perpetuated even by those in positions of power. But just as important is for us to stay… united against these abuses. And part of this is not to become sources of, well, discrimination ourselves.

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.com

I was 28 the first time I was told I’m old. We were in a bar in Malate (the former gay capital of the City of Manila); and then – while partying with friends – this 21-year-old gay guy who was with a friend said: “You’re too old to be in a bar; yuck!”.

Ageism – which refers to prejudice or discrimination on the basis of age – is an issue in the LGBTQIA community. It is an issue that has been tackled repeatedly in the past; though, admittedly, perhaps not as much in the Philippines.

In 2009, for instance, Malcolm Sargeant published “Age discrimination, sexual orientation and gender identity: UK/US perspectives” in Equal Opportunities International”, which noted that LGBTQIA elders suffer from particular discrimination when compared to that suffered by elders in general, and heterosexual elders in particular.

It is, therefore, not surprising that elders have been calling for inclusion; something that Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE (an American organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ elders), said that should be tackled. “Over and over what we hear again from our elders is that they feel invisible and forgotten by the rest of the community, and that includes our younger people… And what we’ve seen is that it’s so powerful when older and younger people come together and engage as activists,” Adams was quoted as saying by Out.com.

These two points – ageism, and the need to dump it if we want to move forward TOGETHER – was re-emphasized to me after hearing from some of PNP’s suspects in the demise of Christine Dacera.

As FYI: Christine, a flight attendant, partied with mostly gay/bi friends during New Year’s Eve. She passed away on New Year’s Day; and the PNP has been “forcing” a narrative that she was “raped”, with a high-ranking policeman even claiming that when gay men get drunk, they “also become men”.

This one’s not to talk about PNP messing everything up; PNP’s assertion that “gay men are still men” (based on this antiquated misconception that “gay men are not ‘real’ men”); PNP’s erroneous belief that alcohol is a “cure” to being LGBTQIA (Hello, CBCP, send some my way!); and PNP’s insinuation that, yes, all men are rapists.

Instead, this is to focus on how “damage” can come from within the LGBTQIA community. And we really need to be aware of this; and even take steps to deal with this.

Now back to ageism and how this happens from within.

When ABS-CBN News interviewed some of the initial suspects (who were released when the court told PNP it, basically, didn’t do its job properly to pin these people down), one of them stated (off-handedly, if I may add; proceed to 56:25 in the YT video below) that they mingled with “mga bakla” in a separate room, but that this room had “matatanda/bakla na may mga edad na” so they may as well move to their room/a different room since “wala namang pogi dito eh“.

Discriminating may have been unintentional (ageism, and yes, lookism); but it’s still there.

The suspects’ names have been unnecessarily dragged by the PNP which committed errors after errors after errors when it dealt with this case – e.g. it prematurely declared the case “solved”; it claimed there was “rape” when the initial autopsy report did not back this claim; its key people even threatened that if the suspects did not willingly surrender, then they should expect the worse (and yes, we all know what THAT meant); and it basically prevented another autopsy from being done to the body when it had the body embalmed sans informing the family, etc.

Our bigger enemy here is injustice… to everyone involved (i.e. Christine; her loved ones; and her friends and acquaintances, many of them treated – even without proof – with prejudice). And how this injustice can be perpetuated even by those in positions of power.

But just as important is for us to stay… united against these abuses.

And part of this is not to become sources of, well, discrimination ourselves. Because how can we stand united if we discriminate against people we hope will actually support us (e.g. the LGBTQIA community as a whole, including the elders and, yes, the “not pogi“)?

So let’s be more self-aware as we start dealing with this…

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From the Editor

About sex work (and prostitution) among Filipinos at the time of Covid-19

Various Facebook GCs (group chats) highlight how Covid-19 may have pushed many Filipinos into the sex industry. And yet – except in these GCs – this is largely ignored.

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Facebook just prompted me to “join” three GCs (group chats) related to sex work (and even prostitution). One is for “mga lalaking bayaran“, another for masseurs with ES (extra service; the extra being the sexual favor), and another for “for hire daks Pinoys”.

These aren’t exclusive GCs, actually; and they aren’t new, either. Many others like them abound in Facebook (among other social networking sites).

But upon checking, what struck me with these GCs this time around is Covid-19’s effect/s on the (current) memberships. So many are in this because of desperation. For instance, it is not uncommon to see comments like: “Nawalan lang ng trabaho; sino gusto tumulong para may ipa-Pasko kaming mag-aama“; or “Para tulong lang sa online classes.”

This is another facet of the sex industry (and even prostitution) as exacerbated by the pandemic.

And this face – while at least tackled overseas – isn’t really openly discussed in the Philippines…

IN THE SHADOWS

Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines, this is worth stressing. Penalties vary, up to life imprisonment for those involved in trafficking (covered by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003).

No, the country doesn’t distinguish between sex work and prostitution; here, those in the sex industry are largely considered as in need of being “saved”. Not just the body, too; but also the “soul”.

But – get this – prostitution is actually openly tolerated – e.g. let’s stop pretending we don’t know what many GROs actually do; what masseurs offer when they say “E.S.”; and that there are local government units that give workers (of bars, spas, massage parlors, KTV bars, and so on) “pink cards” to guarantee that they are STI-free and are “sexually clean/safe”.

And really, except for the occasional “saving” of trafficked people (who are then turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development) we see in TV, the deafening silence on this is what’s remarkable.

TRANSACTIONAL SEX

This silence is… worrisome.

Particularly because this continues to happen; and yes (yet again), exacerbated by Covid-19.

What the GC members I’ve come across in Facebook are doing aren’t new, actually. The Philippines – dearies – isn’t excluded from the “oldest profession in the world.” This, obviously, includes male sex workers (befitting the handling of this topic here).

Consider that in 2003, the University of the Philippines’ Population Institute and Demographic Research and Development Foundation released the 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS3) that noted that about 11% of sexually active young people aged 15-24 did it with someone of the same sex. Of this figure, 87% are men who have sex with men (MSM; meaning they may not self-identify as gay or bi, but have sex with other men).

Here’s what’s worth stressing in UP’s study: Almost half of those who had same-sex encounters also engaged in commercial sex. Approximately 19% paid for sex, while 11% received payment for sexual favors.

At that time, Dr. Corazon Raymundo, project coordinator of YAFS3, stated that it appears that in a fast changing world, the “usual norms and expectations do not hold true anymore.”

REVISIT… EVERYTHING

There are too many interconnected issues that should be considered here…

There’s poverty; and how this forces people to do things they may not otherwise do.

There’s the continuing lack of government support for its people; otherwise, those who do not want to sell themselves wouldn’t be forced to do so – e.g. selling oneself for “online classes”; because of loss of employment; etc.

There’s the pervasive ignorance re the sex industry; this is what leads to the abuse of those involved in it because – since they are considered illegal to begin with – they can’t even access State support if they are abused, etc.

There’s the impact of tech on the industry.

There’s the ongoing hypocrisy re this – e.g. church people want to “save” sex workers; but ask them to give these same people job in the church, and start counting how many reasons they can come up with just to (basically) say “No way!”.

There’s the continuing “punishment” of those in the sex industry; and yet… look at how the patrons get away with “buying” (e.g. the GCs in Facebook blatantly haggle with the service providers, demanding for the absurd while asking to lower the prices).

There’s the continuing ignoring of the sexual and reproductive health concerns of Filipinos.

There’s the silence re this; it’s staring us in the face, and we don’t even talk about this.

And on, and on, and on we go…

In the end, this needs to be tackled. No matter your angle” – e.g. because it inadvertently signifies the adverse effects of Covid-19 on poorer sectors of society; because it highlights government inaction/misaction; because it needs to be monitored as a health issue; because you’re self-righteous and you want to “save” them all; etc. – this shouldn’t, couldn’t be ignored. Covid-19 is re-emphasizing what was already there; and so please… just address this already…

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Editor's Picks

Enter the alter world

Welcome to the alter world, where people tweet and retweet their or other people’s sexual engagements. Though often maligned, it actually also highlights formation of friendships, info sharing, emotional support, and even provision of a ‘safe space’ for those who wish to express their sexuality.

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Some time back, Kurt (a.k.a. @MoanerBottom) opened a Twitter account as a form of revenge. “I found out that my ex had an ‘alter’ account and he was fooling around with different people,” he recalled. And so “I wanted to prove to him that I can also do the same thing.”

Little did Kurt know at that time that he would become a mainstay in the alter world/community. A few months since opening his own alter account, he garnered over 130,000 followers, all of them craving – and even waiting – for what he would post, usually dominated by sexual encounters (“kalat videos,” he calls them) with mostly students, including a basketball varsitarian “who likes to penetrate deeply”, a Blue Eagle who allowed for his orgasm to be videoed, a Tamaraw who also allowed himself to be videoed as he orgasmed, and bending for a Red Lion.

“I must admit that I am a shy person in real life,” Kurt said. But “here in Twitter, it is like I have less shame and more courage to do kalat (contextually: shameless) posts and videos.”

Kurt is, obviously, only one of the people – not just Filipinos – with alter accounts, which many like him, say is similar to a “pseudonym — like Batman to Bruce Wayne, or Superman to Clark Kent; where people can have a separate account from their primary accounts, usually used to express themselves more ‘wildly’ yet more ‘discreetly’/anonymously.”

And so welcome to the alter world, where people tweet and retweet their or other people’s sexual “collaborations”, hookups, fetishes, fantasies and social engagements, with the audiences often never really knowing the content generators/producers/distributors.

Getting noticed

That the alter world is often dominated by sexual content is a given.

Onin (a.k.a. @Onin_NuezPH), for example, sees his alter account “as an avenue for me to express myself and my sexuality. I am able to let everyone know within the community about my sexual desires without the fear of being judged.”

Looking back, it was actually “a friend who is an alter too introduced me in this alter community,” Onin said.

One of the early instances Onin trended was when some of his nude photos circulated on Twitter. Many got curious, asking the person who previously reacted or shared the photos if there were more.

It whetted Onin’s interest; and so he started posting more photos and short videos. His followers quickly increased, reaching more than 145,000.

Taking pride that he is one of the more talked about alters out there, Onin has produced content that may seem trivial… but these have been keeping the alter community and lurkers interested, from balancing a shampoo bottle on top of his erect penis, sharing a photo of his endowment while asking his followers if they want to kneel in front him, a comparison of the length of a deodorant spray with his penis, wearing a see-through underwear, and teasing his latest sexual collaboration.

Standing out

Standing out in a platform where hundreds (even thousands) of alters saturate news feeds is a challenge. After all, it is not an easy feat to attract someone’s attention — what more to make them like, share, or follow an account.

For FUCKER Daddy (a.k.a. @ako_daddy), therefore, it all comes down to the type of content being posted, not just being well-endowed, willing to perform bareback sex, or how often the face is shown.

A licensed professional who has a son, FUCKER Daddy started as a “lurker’ (i.e. one who lurks, or just consumes content/views profiles) on Twitter. At that time, he wrote “my real-life sex stories, hoping it will pick up from there,” he recalled. “Unfortunately, alter peeps seem to be more into live action.”

And so FUCKER Daddy met someone from Telegram, without realizing that the person was “sort of (a) big (personality) on Twitter.” This guy discretely took a short clip of their sexual encounter, and then posted it on his alter account. “It was hit. (And) the rest is history.”

By August 2019, FUCKER Daddy said his inbox started receiving direct messages from different users – e.g. asking for more, congratulating him, wanting to collaborate, and so on.

He actually now has several sex videos in his cam. But he still doesn’t make recording the primary thing when engaging in sex “as my goal is to have hookups; videos are only secondary.”

Besides, he said that “I do not want to spoil the moment for sex and think only of it as merely for Twitter.”

But every time FUCKER Daddy posts a video, he said his over 95,000 followers respond to them “with enthusiasm, getting more curious and intrigued.”

Making a living

The concept of alter, however, isn’t set in stone.

For one, there are actually alter accounts whose owners prefer to use their real names and show their faces (like Onin), mixing their personal and private lives along the way. Following the Batman/Bruce Wayne and Superman/Clark Kent analogy, there are also people who follow the Tony Stark/Iron Man mantra, i.e. openly announcing that they are one and the same.

Secondly, monetizing is actually possible.

Also, one may be part of the alter community without knowing it – i.e. one engages in alter activities without recognizing it as such.

The likes of John (a.k.a. @johnnephelim on Twitter and Instagram), who has over 130,000 followers, comes to mind, using Twitter as a platform “to promote a job.”

“I do not even know that I am involved in the world of alter,” John said, adding that he did not even know what the term meant until it was presented to him. Instead, his account is used to “promote my RentMen and OnlyFans accounts”, just as he also promotes his availability for “personal appointment to people.”

John actually used to work as a brand ambassador, but because of this change in his work, he “can no longer work (in) that (field) because I am doing porn.”

He admitted that “this type of thing is double-edged.” On the one hand, “you can earn a great amount of money,” he said, “but there will be sacrifices.”

He noted, for instance, that the perception of people about me changed; most people judge you right away because of what you do, and not because of who you are as a person.”

But he ignores the naysayers; “I do not mind because this job gives more than what I expected!”

Like John, Onin also promotes his JustFor.Fans (JFF) account on Twitter to respond to the requests of his followers.

“They (my followers) want to see me in action and they are willing to subscribe too,” Onin said, with his exclusive content including: he and his partner having sex, and collaborations with other alters. “You will not earn that much, but pretty enough to compensate for the contents that we are posting.”

Not all alters think alike, obviously. FUCKER Daddy, for instance, won’t monetize his content, saying: “I value sex as it was created. I never sell any (videos) because I think it is something that is worth free. I simply treated it as making memories while those (who) watch put up the numbers.”

Behind the handles

The world of alter has actually already caught the attention of researchers.

For instance, in a study by Samuel Piamonte of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Mark Quintos of De La Salle University Manila, and Minami Iwayama of Polytechnic University of the Philippines, it was found that the alter community may seem overtly sexual, but there is more to it than that.
“The sexual aspect of alter is the core of alter, but it has been enriched by more complex social benefits to users such as including formation of new friendships, sharing of information and advocacies, reciprocations of emotional support, and provision of a ‘safe space’ for those who wish to express their sexuality but find that doing so outside of the alter community could be met with stigma from their peers and family.”

Kurt sees his alter account as an avenue for him to tap his inner self and show the Twitter universe his kalat. Onin uses his alter account to broadcast his sexual side (together with his partner). And FUCKER Daddy uses his alter account as “a constant source of info, hookups, convo… and to learn social demographics as well.”

The evolution, indeed, continues.

Hate from within the community

Yes, yes, yes… with increasing numbers of followers, multiple likes and shares, and the creation of alter “celebrities”, this has not been spared from criticisms.

And sadly, said Kurt, at least in the Philippine setting, the prejudice against alters comes from within the community. “Kapuwa LGBT ang nagsisiraan at nagpapataasan sa isa’t-isa,” he said. “I know… that I cannot please everyone (but) for me it is okay, as long as I know that I am not doing anything wrong.”

Perhaps a “surprise” is the audience’s inability to “appreciate” the free content given them, with Kurt noting that there are times when “they are also pissed off with the things I post.”

This seems to contradict the findings of Piamonte, Quintos and Iwayama, since – here – the alter community can become a fearful place, too.

John, like Kurt, noted how people resort to demeaning others when they do not fit preconceived notions. But he just laughs this off, saying: “Do not hate me because I look good and make money (from) it. Life is too short to be a bitter person. If you do not like what we do, then shut the fuck up.”

The Pandora’s box, so to speak has been opened; and lessons learned along the way can just “make you stronger and bring out the best in you,” said Onin, who like many alters, “just focus on my goals.” And it is exactly because of the existence of this interchange – the content creation, and the love-hate reaction to what’s created – that alter is not going to disappear anytime soon (or at all).

Details and photos of sexual encounters were lifted from the Twitter accounts of the interviewees.

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Op-Ed

Simple but effective tips on how you can better protect trans women

Given that our lives are considered less than a lot of people, it’s easy for trans women to become victims of violence and for the perpetrator to get away with it. So our best defense against any untoward incident is to always think of our security and the security of our friends.

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These are simple but effective tips on how you can better protect the trans women in your lives in the context of a night that could go wrong. Given that our lives are considered less than a lot of people, it’s easy for trans women to become victims of violence and for the perpetrator to get away with it.

So our best defense against any untoward incident is to always think of our security and the security of our friends.

1. PICTURE.

If you are hooking up with someone, ALWAYS send a picture of the person you are hooking up with to people you trust with your life. If you are hooking up with someone from a club, bar, or any public place, ask your friend to take your picture with the person you’d be with. This can be de done discreetly or with the permission of the other person. When asking permission, tell the person that you’re taking his/her picture for security purposes.

2. ADDRESS.

If you are going to someone else’s house for a booty call, send your GPS location via Whatsapp OR text the address of your location to people you trust.

3. WAIT.

If you are walking someone home or dropping them off, do not leave until the person is already inside his/her house. Do not let your drunk or high friend go home alone, either invite your friend to your house or accompany them home.

4. “I’M SAFE” CALL/TEXT.

Always demand an “I’m safe” call/text from your friend as soon as they’re home.

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