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Victimizing ourselves

When a social network user claims he is “not into effems, BACK OFF!”, or “I hate chubs, layas”, is he simply expressing his preferences or is he already discriminating against these other members of the LGBT community? Michael David C. Tan thinks there is a need to closely look into this.

His isn’t the only PlanetRomeo.com (or, for that matter, Grindr, gay.com, Scruff, or whatever MSM social network site) profile to claim this, but like the rest of them, his profile is as good a study. He claimed he’s a “certified good-looking straight-acting dude” – mimicking others, whose claims include: “certified hot”, “certified not malamya”, and “certified yummy”, among others.

“Certified guwapo ka rin ba?” he asked.

It’s rare for me to be at a loss for words; but, yes, I didn’t know how to respond to this line of questioning. If we’re talking pick-up, I know what I am offering; but I know, too, of the subjectivity of what I have (or more aptly, “am”). So – as Filipinos are wont to say – “huwag magbuhat ng sariling bangko” (or: Thou shalt not promote thyself).

Besides, all I wanted to ask was: Who gave the certification that one is good-looking/straight-acting/hot/et cetera; and, for that matter, how does one get one of these certifications?

Seriously, though, for me, the very asking highlighted – therefore meriting a discussion (no matter how short this may be) – the MSM’s predisposition to being judgmental when supposedly “only simply” citing preferences, as stressed by one other PR user who disagreed with this observation of mine.

Consider the additional words spewed on some of these profiles claiming (thus demanding) “certified” good looks: “Mga chubs, ALIS!”, “Bawal malamya”, “ayoko ng patpatin; don’t send message kung ayaw ng away”, “Not interested in Thundercats! Older than 30, don’t waste time”, “layas effems!”, “No to other Asians!”, and “Layas if you’re not muscular”. Overseas, the profiles include even nastier words: “Asians, BACK OFF!”, “No Hispanics allowed”, and “not into blacks”.

That these highlight superficiality (and, yes, image obsession) goes without saying. No, we are not all superficial and image-obsessed; but many apparently exclusively identify worth with… image. This brought to mind the January 2012 study by the Central YMCA, the Succeed Foundation and the Centre for Appearance Research at UWE Bristol that found that (among 394 respondents), nearly 92% of gay men were “pretty much obsessed with body image”, 59% of regularly compare themselves to “better looking” men (for straight men, the figure is about half that), and 35% were anxious about what their friends think about their body (versus only 20% of straight men who do so).

Interviewed by PinkNews.co.uk, Central YMCA CEO Rosi Prescott said that “today, gay men are under enormous pressure about their bodies, and we believe that a lack of body diversity in the media, including the gay press, and a relentless focus which values people based on appearance, may in part explain why gay men are particularly susceptible to this issue.”

The profiles in PR and the likes that demand conformity to stereotyped images of MSM definitely do not help.

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Yes, this can become a (lengthier) discussion on:

  • Obsession with image of members of the MSM community (e.g. “Layas if you’re not muscular”).
  • Ageism (e.g. “Not interested in Thundercats! Older than 30, don’t waste time”).
  • Transphobia (e.g. “layas effems!”).
  • Internalization of hatred of non-conformists (e.g. “effems”) by focusing on the stereotyped “normal” (e.g. “straight-acting”, “straight-looking”).
  • Self-hate (the very membership in these sites mean we want other men; yet there are those who openly tout hating gays – “only real men need send message, or you will be blocked”).
  • Racism in the MSM community (e.g. “Asians, BACK OFF!”, “No to other Asians!”).

Alas, emphasizing on what can – and should – be learned is (arguably more) important.

No, you don’t have to change your preference/s.

But:

  1. You may need to check your biases to be able to realistically assess if you are actually being judgmental or are supposedly “only simply” citing your preference/s.
  2. There is no need to put people down to push your worth up.
  3. We need to “live”, not just keep claiming as some tag line, the LGBT mantra that “we’re united in diversity”. Just because there are others “not like us” means we could be overly critical of them (we should know better, considering that this is the VERY argument used against LGBTs in general). After all, while you may not like chubs, there are chubby chasers, you know…
  4. The need to be nicer, period. As one more verbose Grindr account-holder I encountered said: “You don’t have to insult me to tell me you are not into me; just say so.” As yet another Fridae user said: “You think you’re God’s gift to gaydom? No one is. And there is no need to be bitchy about it.”

If there’s one thing worth being bitchy about, it is the need to deal with this way of treating other MSM (and other members of the LGBT community). Because if we don’t deal with this, we’ll just continue victimizing ourselves.

Now back to being “certified”…

“Certified guwapo to certified guwapo lang po,” this PR user once told a friend; he then asked me how to best answer this guy.

“Just say okay,” I said. Then: “But I suggest you tell him to bring his authenticated certification with him when you meet up with him, ha.”

He messaged the guy what I told him.

The guy has yet to respond.

And honestly (even if I consider this as a missed opportunity to educating a member of the LGBT community about acceptance), I can’t help but be glad that he hasn’t…

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