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We are more than our mannerisms

Many think that people can “act” gay “effectively”. But Michael David C. Tan says that this is an erroneous belief because “there’s more to being like us than getting our supposed mannerisms right; and because we are more than our mannerisms. Thinking otherwise is just plain ignorant.”

At the 1st Philippine Outgames, with out gay men playing - and actually being good at - playing the (supposedly) hetero game of basketball

Only a year or so ago, a cisgender (i.e. straight) female friend told me that one of the “most impressive gay portrayals” she saw in her life was Nathan Lopez’s playing of the main role in Auraeus Solito’s Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros in 2005. He is “so realistic – kuhang-kuha niya ang galaw ng batang bakla,” was how she phrased her admiration.

I couldn’t help but ask her then – just as I continue asking others now: How does a gay person “act”?

Do we mean seemingly sashaying down catwalks instead of walking, even if it’s in the middle of EDSA?
Wearing girls’ clothes?
Using Mommy’s make-up?
Speaking in a low voice, as if to mimic the supposed way dainty ladies speak?
Doing chores (because it’s what those belonging to the “fairer” sex are supposed to do)?
Loving pink instead of blue?

If you think that being gay means “acting” gay, which in turn means doing only all these, then you really do not know what you’re talking about.

Just as there are gays who are “girly”, there are also gays who are “boyish”.

There are gays who box.
Gays who play football.
Gays who play rugby.

The point is, the belief that there is a way to “act” gay in a “realistic” manner is not at all realistic. Because truth be told…well, that just does not exist.

Not all men drink alcohol.
Or bash their wives if they question their supposed authority.
Just as not all men always (literally) put on pants.
Or send their children to school.
Or hate cooking, doing household chores, or… generally doing stereotyped women’s tasks.

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And not all women stay at home to look after their children.
Or like wearing skirts, putting on make-up… or dress up in the stereotyped womanly manner.
Just as not all women love cooking.
Or stop going to work when they meet the love of their lives.

We can go on and on and on to highlight that there are as many kinds of men/women as the number of men/women.

It’s the same with gay men.

So, no – the portrayal of Maximo’s being gay is NOT a “realistic portrayal of a young gay guy”, generally speaking. Yes, admittedly, it may be representative of the way SOME young gay guys act, but that’s about it.

Which is why it’s similarly annoying hearing people say Angel Aquino “effectively” portrayed the role of a transwoman in Porno because, supposedly like a transwoman, “kekendeng-kendeng siya kung naglalakad” (she sways as she walks).
Or that between Tom Rodriguez and Dennis Trillo (and the other gay couples, for that matter) in My Husband’s Lover, one should be “girlier” than the other (and supposedly it’s the one who is out).

Because there’s more to being like us than getting our supposed mannerisms right.

Because we are more than our mannerisms.

And thinking otherwise is just plain ignorant.

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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. 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". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies), and converse in Filipino Sign Language. 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 (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Arts that Matter - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).


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