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What makes a homophobe

Says Michael David C. Tan: “Let’s make one thing clear: If you are NOT a homophobe, you will not associate being gay (or LGBT for that matter) with anything negative.” Because if you do, then yes, you just did something homophobic.

Having gay friends doesn’t make you NOT homophobic.

Sometime in the 1990s, an auntie – one of my Dad’s elder sisters – and I had a somewhat heated discussion (after I defended my brother, who had a squabble with the husband she was defending). It is something I still somewhat clearly remember, if only because it was one of the first few times I actually had a fight (even if only verbally) over my being who and what I am. As the discussion (okay, fight) was winding down, my auntie said something she may have hoped would have crushed me there and then, just like that.

“You know what your problem is?” she asked (yelling at) me. “Bakla ka kasi (You are a faggot)!”

For her, my being gay was the reason why we were having the fight; and me acknowledging this was supposed to end it (by maybe making me apologize that I fight for what I believe is right, simply because I shouldn’t be doing so because I’m gay?).

Actually, at least at that point in my life, my being gay was no longer an issue for me. And so I told her as much. “My being gay is not MY problem; it’s yours,” I said. “And you know what your problem is? You’re a homophobe! Kung hindi ka takot sa bakla, galit ka sa bakla (If you are not afraid of gay people, then you must hate them).”

And just like that, my Dad’s elder sister was suddenly on the defensive.

That she’s not a homophobe was her assertion, particularly since “may mga kilala akong bakla – ang gumugupit sa akin, bakla (I know someone who is gay – the one who cuts my hair is gay),” she said.

And so she lost (at least this line of) the argument.

The same line of thinking continues to persist even to these days, however. Particularly, many people still believe – and actually openly claim – that they can’t be homophobic because, as many of them may say:

  1. I have a brother, uncle, cousin… or whatever relative who’s gay; or
  2. I know someone (a friend, my hairdresser, my stylist, et cetera) who’s gay.

Let’s make this clear.
KNOWING SOMEONE GAY (no matter how close you are to that person) DOES NOT MAKE YOU NOT HOMOPHOBIC.

Which is why it continues to be sad (even annoying) that this continues to be used supposedly to highlight how pro-gay people’s positions are.

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Take former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio’s tweet that Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III is a “faggot of the worst kind”. Interviewed by GMA News Online, Topacio claimed that the tweet about Quezon was a “delayed reaction” to a blog post written by the latter who described Topacio as “Hitler-loving.” Topacio was quoted as saying that by calling Quezon a “faggot,” he actually meant “a spineless person, a person who is a coward, who is without principles.”

And then the clincher: Topacio claimed he was the “last person to be a homophobe” because he has many homosexual friends.

Many others have used the – err… – argument. For instance, extremist Rick Santorum stressed in June 2011 that he has a lot of gay friends; never mind that as early as 2003, he compared homosexuality to incest and bestiality (he was quoted as saying that “in every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be” and “if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything”).

The likes of 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan; he-who-bashed Rihanna Chris Brown; and The Voice judges Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton similarly expressed (in a skit or tweets, among the methods used) homophobic statements, later recanted as not homophobic because, hey, they’re not homo-haters.

Let’s make another thing clear.
If you are NOT a homophobe, you will not associate being gay (or LGBT for that matter) with anything negative (e.g. in Topacio’s words, “a spineless person, a person who is a coward, who is without principles”); will stop using LGBT-related terms to belittle anyone (or anything).

So, yes, anyone who attacks homosexuals in whatever ways and then claims he/she is not homophobe because he/she is somewhat affiliated with homosexuals is – plain and simple – still a homophobe. If you insist that, no, you are not a homophobe, well, maybe you deserve the benefit of the doubt; but what you’re doing is still homophobic (which needs a separate discussion about the “sin” versus the “sinner” – something that LGBTs are constantly reminded of by holier-than-thou church leaders).

I have been called disrespectful for talking back to people older than me (e.g. my auntie). I don’t see what I have done (and what I still do) as disrespectful; instead, it’s the mere statement of what is.

Besides, there’s more disrespect in claiming to be friends with us, but – deep inside – believing we’re no good at all.

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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. 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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