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The mis-portrayal of LGBTs in the Philippines

Patrick King Pascual notes how film and TV could be powerful tools in creating stereotypes about LGBTs.

Many critics and non-believers argue that the need for an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) political party like Ladlad to look out for the protection, rights and welfare of its members, or the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill is no longer needed in our country.

“The LGBTs are already tolerated in the Philippines, what’s the use of an LGBT political party and why do they still need to fight for their rights?” a leader of a religious group said in an interview.

The LGBTs are not asking to be tolerated, they are asking to be accepted.

If they are just looking for tolerance then it’s an easy fight; they can stage a weekly Ms. Gay pageant in every city and barangay and let the heterosexuals consider and stereotype them as entertainers and call them names when they parade on stage in their swimsuits and evening gowns.

It’s funny to know that after every beauty pageant, after they remove the make-up from their faces, while walking with their other gay friends, the contestants are engaged in sexual conversations by some members of the heterosexual audience, who were cheering and jeering during the pageant.  They are persuaded to have sex with them for a given price. The LGBTs may always show a happy front when confronting this, but if you will look closely, this qualifies as a form of harassment.

In a television program months ago, a prominent news anchor gave a comment on one of the running news stories about the shooting in a mall that involved two young boys, by telling the audience that it was the media’s fault, that when someone opens the television, everything they see are all gay things, the same thing in the Internet and in social networking sites. Since these just allow gay things to be put up and be readily available for everyone to see, this encourages the kids who are in their early ages to flaunt their gayness.

He also said that it was a wake-up call to everyone, to rethink the tolerance and acceptance the general public is giving the LGBTs.

The comment was baseless and out of context. The news story was about a shooting incident at a mall, where there was an obvious lapse in the security of the mall, that’s why the two minors walked past the entrance carrying a handgun. It was NOT about whether the two minors were really in a relationship or not.

Major newscasts were very careful when they reported the story, almost all of the news programs’ lead in the story was: “Dalawang menor de edad na lalake, nagbarilan sa loob ng mall…”, but they never called or labelled them as “bakla” or third sex.

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The analysis the news anchor made in his segment deviated from the real issue of the incident, which was the lack of guidance of both the victims’ parents. Everything starts from there, from your family, not in the media, not in any social networking sites, not anywhere online.

Another disturbing thing about the news anchor was his constant usage of the term “third sex” when he talked about LGBTs.

Labeling the LGBTs as “third sex” is an unacceptable and very discriminating. Does this mean that males are the “first sex” and the females are the “second sex”? A hierarchy?!

In the movie, Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington – which is a story of a young heterosexual boy named Remington, who mocks gay men and was cursed to become gay when he grows older. When he turned 15, this came true, and at a time when gay killings were happening in the character’s place, so the search for a “cure” became important and a must – the premise of the movie gives the audience a lot of misinformation and adds fuel to the hatred the LGBTs are experiencing.

Michael David C. Tan of Outrage Magazine gave a point-to-point discussion of what makes the film abhorrent, and let me quote:

  • Being gay is not a sumpa. The entire movie was based on the premise that Remington being cursed to become gay for ridiculing gay people, highlighting what is believed to be the worst thing that can happen to any person. In doing this, the film – even if arguably not intentionally – promoted that homosexuality can be “cured”.
  • The film focuses on the supposed predatory nature of gays – e.g. Remington is unable to work with men when they started taking their shirts off because all he wanted was to idolize their male bodies. The portrayal of gay men that Zombadings made only shows that they cannot be trusted, particularly when around men, since they always have intent to have sex with them.
  • Stereotyping of the characters; the film portrays all gay men with pilantik of fingers, cat fights between gay people because they are too weak to fight, transitioning to transsexualism as soon as gender-identification happens. The characters don’t have to dress like women or put on make-up like women or sashayed while walking like women – acts deemed that only women should be doing – just so they can be identified as gays.

“People who have watched Zombadings may like the movie because it’s funny and because of the actors in it, but laughing at something that is false, and at other people’s misfortunes is in no way funny.”

A straight acting gay who works in a corporate world was teased by his colleague, calling him “Remington” after seeing the movie trailer several times on television. The name-calling is a form of stereotyping and degradation of the gay’s self-confidence and image in the workplace.

Gay men, LGBTs, are being discriminated – in FACT, there are those who are being deprived of their rights and even being killed everyday. The kind of portrayal and characterization Zombadings and the news anchor made only contributed to the stereotyped perception and miseducation of heterosexuals and haters alike.

Living life a day at a time – and writing about it, is what Patrick King believes in. A media man, he does not only write (for print) and produce (for a credible show of a local giant network), but – on occasion – goes behind the camera for pride-worthy shots (hey, he helped make Bahaghari Center’s "I dare to care about equality" campaign happen!). He is the senior associate editor of OutrageMag, with his column, "Suspension of Disbelief", covering anything and everything. Whoever said business and pleasure couldn’t mix (that is, partying and working) has yet to meet Patrick King, that’s for sure!


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