I find this disturbing not because I’m particularly fearful of hell and of God’s wrath for being a theoretical sodomite. At the very least, I’m past the point of thinking that my unique brand of love is a sin. It unsettles me because people seem to be perfectly capable of consigning me to an ultimate fate based on a single facet of my personhood, which I think is not enough to determine my moral worth. My sexual orientation is a central part of who I am, but it shouldn’t be enough to damn my entire being for eternity. It disturbs me that something as fundamental to my humanity as the act of loving is seen as morally depraved by those who claim to preach love and acceptance. I have realized it is infinitely more hurtful when these people turn out to be people you know, and who, despite knowing you, staunchly hold on to their beliefs.
When I was young, there were these boys
big, strong, testosterone-pumped
who came to me, but not on me (prepositions change everything)
and told me I was a faggot.
They told me I was silly.
I was a fairy.
I was a sissy.
They took turns shaking, not me, but my table
and all the spices in the world ended up in the spikes of my feet.
A little punch. Some funny words. Blue on my skin.
But I didn’t tell anyone else (until now, I suppose)
It was private, my grief. An alien to myself.
Maybe I was a fairy.
Maybe I was a sissy. Questions, only questions, always questions.
So I told myself, I was going to make sure, a boy, a big boy,
a strong boy, would come to me, and come on me, and he’d think me velvet.
One day, I would have their eyes tearing,
my name will echo in their brains. I will fuck them, when one of the, fucks with me.
A big boy will like me, and maybe in turn, they’d like me too.
It’s amazing how so many people are up in arms regarding the recent homophobic comments made by Miriam Quiambao, and Manny Pacquiao - personalities who once brought pride to the Filipinos, yet with their ignorance and narrowness of mind, brought shame, not to mention social media backlash, upon themselves. But are we free from guilt?
We have straight guys who call their friends and enemies “bakla” or “bading” as a means to insult and humiliate. We have all heard of friends who scold their “effeminate” younger siblings or relatives, asking them, “bakla ka ba? (are you gay?)” both as a threat and a twisted idea of caring some even take pride in. Both, cases of semantic oppression. Both, just as disparaging as any homophobic remark. We have friends who say they’re all for equality, yet who secretly cringe at the sight of two men kissing. We have colleagues who still so stupidly assume only gay men have AIDS; and supposed fag-hags complaining so naively, “I wish you were straight” or “why are you gay?”.
The oppressed aren’t blame-free too. Film directors churn out indie-film after indie-film full of homoerotic images disguised as art and creative freedom, yet which box the gay man as nothing more than an individual exploring his sexual facilities, chasing promiscuities bordering on pornographic. And between the oppressed, the butch hate on the trannies, the straight-acting detest the queer, the masculine poke fun at the feminine - the battle between substance and flamboyance a seemingly endless one.
If being gay was a choice, would a person really choose to live a life so full of hate, bigotry, and ignorance? A person would rather not be accepted, if only he is to be loved and respected by family, friends, and society under certain conditions (or once such conditions are met). It seems we’re all just extensions of hypocrisy, that is until we can change at an individual level. Because if we can’t, then how different are we from those who just happened to be under the public eye?
Orange Zest: An Almost Honest Essay of PinkSubmergence’s Present Predicament
About a year ago, I found myself in a bookstore in Makati, passing time as I waited for my interview in one of the companies I applied during that awfully exhausting summer job-hunting as a recent, and quite frankly, naive graduate. I had just passed a two-hour test and I was immediately set for an interview the same day. I had four hours to kill, so after a quick bite in Glorietta, I found myself in a bookstore rummaging embarrassingly through the self-help section.
I picked up the book, Meet Your Half-Orange, which was supposedly a guide to dating optimism. Usually, I don’t bother about dating handbooks or manuals but as they say, there’s a first time for everything. And I was interested if only for the fact that I had never dated anyone in my life, so the book seemed to be tailor-written for me . After two hours of reading, I found myself almost one-third into the book. Basically, what Meet Your Half-Orange discussed was nothing radical. It didn’t tackle revolutionary methods of snagging a boyfriend, or fail-proof ways of finding your soulmate. No four-week plan. No vegetarian diet. No scented candles. No incantations. The core principle was a simple statement: there is no middle ground in desire. It’s either you want a date/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/lover or not.
the battles lost
I always chance upon some kids calling another kid “gay” when I’m on my way home. In Filipino, as a derogatory term it is most potent - bakla. I hear it thrown to young boys who are less masculine than the rest of the pack, as if it is a curse bound to chain the poor ol’ kid to his own doubts. But why so, when he is too young to even have doubts! It’s a shame because young boys and girls know little about the consequence of their words. Only when the young boy teased indeed grows up to be a gay man does it become clear to us how words, regardless if they came as a childish taunt or something indeed well meant, have repercussions.
There is nothing unfortunate about becoming a gay man. There is, however, much tragedy when children inflict verbal tirades nonchalantly, and even greater disaster, when adults - parents, older brothers, neighbors - make little to no effort to address the wrong. How can we let young boys and girls hurt each other? How can we let them make another young girl or boy feel so certain that they are indeed “freaks”, “gay”, mahinhin or tibo when they themselves are unsure of who they are? How can we let children possess such power, such might, such force in words yet do nothing with our own strength to use language to heal or remedy?
I was once a young boy labeled gay, even before I knew I would be one. It was not much of a choice. The more the young boys in school called me names, the more I became certain I was gay, because they said I was. My parents were never there to defend me. And I was too humiliated to explain to them what happened in school, because I thought that admitting a weakness, was also gay and indeed, a great defeat. My teachers never reprimanded my bullies because they thought, we were just children, and words coming from young boys do not wound, and do not leave scars. It was all fun and games.
But I carry a scar from the ‘fun and games’. It has been with me for more than ten years. That’s a decade of trying to explain the scar, or trying to hide it, because the people I expected to help me, were always the first to consider the remnants of my wounds and battles-lost, as weaknesses.
We just heard the news: in less than a week Russian lawmakers are expected to pass a law that will silence millions by making it a crime to read, write or even discuss anything “gay.” Even worse, if this law passes in “liberal” St. Petersburg, the ruling party’s next step is to push this law nationwide.
I cried when I read this feature. This is a group response against homophobia. It’s a very beautiful and encouraging story, and I cannot believe it’s only now that I read about this. I couldn’t help but choke up a little because to have this tremendous kind of support for being who you are is something that a lot of people like me, so long for and deserve.
the problem with piolo
I still don’t understand why a lot of people are so fascinated about a hunk celebrity turning out to be gay. What is the big deal? He’s gay. So what? Did he offend you by being protective of something as personal as sexuality? Did he hurt your parents?
A lot of gay people are unable to come out of the closet because despite acceptance, society tends to emphasize on sexual preference a lot, especially if you live in a conservative country. It’s as if it’s a big loss if a celebrity turns out to be gay. Oh, he’s gay. ‘Sayang’. What a loss. Why? Questions and sighs of disappointment abound once the gay rumor comes out.
To make matters worse, the assumption is that the gay person is always promiscuous. Of course, you can always blame the media that comes out - gay movies which emphasize less on story-telling and more on eroticism; the usually one-dimensional, flamboyant, and superficial portrayal of gay characters in Philippine television and film. It makes it harder to break preconceived notions. But here’s a reality check. Gay men don’t just dream of having a hung top or a bubble-butt bottom. They also want what everyone else wants - love. Plain and simple love.
I do not understand why people bother forcing a gay person to come out of the closet. Sometimes, you just can’t compel someone to disclose such a delicate component of his being. It’s an extremely important matter and coming out of the closet is not always the healthiest choice. Some people would rather be low-profile. Some people are just really private. Some are lucky to have an extremely healthy environment where people are a lot more accepting. Others are not so lucky, and they risk losing not just their employment, dignity and rights, but even their lives. The point is different methods work for different people. Not everyone is the same, and there is as much diversity in the LGBT community as it is in the heterosexual population. If you can come out of the closet, then great for you but don’t ever make a presumption a person who stays in is weak or cowardly. This is not a case of the truth shall set you free. This is about living life the way you think you should.
It’s great to see progress in terms of LGBT rights. But at the end of the day, true change will only come if individually, we are able to shatter the stereotypes we pretend not to hold about gay people, yet are unable to hide once the rumor-mills start churning out stories of another hunk going for the same. No to ‘Sayang’. Yes to Good Choice.
Finally, progress comes from being willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. We need to ask ourselves, “How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love? How would it feel to be discriminated against for something about myself that I cannot change?” This challenge applies to all of us as we reflect upon deeply held beliefs, as we work to embrace tolerance and respect for the dignity of all persons, and as we engage humbly with those with whom we disagree in the hope of creating greater understanding.
you seem soft to the touch
a favorite blanket, with a blank expression
lean, sun-kissed brown skin
I find myself in no rush.
where your stubble grows
reminds me of moss, irresponsible
and almost everywhere in the gardens
what joy for my jaw
to be serpentine in its approach
to be certain there is no reproach —
in this kind,
for a man to find grace
in a similar place
I am grateful.
they will tell you it is wrong
two kinds. but they are wrong.
soft to the touch, my favorite song
is on repeat.