Grab a cup of coffee and sit down. This is going to be long.
I’m not the kind to easily react and make a fuss about condescending public statements made by imbecile celebrities. Normally, I would simply raise a perfectly-shaped eyebrow and flip my imaginary long hair. Their opinions don’t really matter to me. The same can be said about the recent uproar brought about by statements released by “pambansang kamao” or “people’s champ” incumbent Cong. Manny Pacquiao who is running for a seat in the Senate in the upcoming 2016 national elections. In an interview about his views on gay marriage, he blatantly compared homosexuals to creatures worse than animals. For those who do not know, he is a Christian pastor and a bible thumper. As I’ve said, normally I wouldn’t give a fuck, and initially, I did not. This however, turned out to be something so much more than an uneducated person’s bigoted opinion. People all over the country, and now even all over the world reacted. Famous LGBT icons such as comedian Vice Ganda, talkshow celebrity host Boy Abunda, and renowned singer Aiza Seguerra were unable to hold their rage and released their full fury upon the feeble-minded Congressman. People started taking sides. That was when I realized a deep-seated wound which radiates to the very being of humanity was being poked at. This is beyond a tactless dehumanizing opinion from an ignoramus who claims common sense in his statement yet is obviously devoid thereof. His opinion does not strip him of his accomplishments as a world champion boxer, nor does it dim other honorable aspects of himself if there are any. His opinions have to be taken as they are. After all, one single mistake cannot cancel out ninety-nine good deeds. That would be unfair. Conversely, ninety-nine good deeds cannot make up for even a single mistake. The pride he has brought to the Philippines as a nation cannot make up for the psychological damage he has blown upon the psyche of every LGBT and their straight allies nor does it make him any more competent and eligible for any high political position. To be a national leader requires superior intelligence, extraordinary vision for the nation and outstanding moral fiber. I say moral fiber and not religiosity. Know the difference. You can be a decent human being regardless of your religion or the lack thereof. His intelligence and vision are questionable knowing his record in the congress. It is his paid advisers that should be in the congress seeing that they are the ones doing his job. So, no, I have not nor will I ever vote for Manny Pacquiao for any political position because he is incapable and incompetent in all aspects that the job require and not just because of his ignorant opinion. I easily got over what the congressman said because his opinion of people like me is none of my business. I did not get hurt that I was being compared to something less of an animal because I personally do not see animals as lesser beings. I am a highly cerebral mammal after all. I, however, did not like the deliberate attempt to demean, degrade and disgrace people like me. He said sorry to all LGBT publicly and I was like, whatever. What infuriated me, no, what actually hurt me were the comments of people around me: acquaintances, colleagues, old classmates- people I considered to be friends. This is the deep-seated wound which I thought has been healed long ago. Boy, was I wrong. Pacquiao’s comment was a mere superficial scratch which revealed the true source of the pain. These people- these co called “friends” actually affirm, defend, and share his view of the LGBT people. Some say, “how he said it was wrong but that he was on point and what he said was true because it was written in the Bible.” So, wait, after all this time, after everything that we’ve been through, that is what you see when you look at me every time we see each other face to face? Some even say, “the truth hurts.” I say fuck you and fuck your truths. It is not your truth that hurts but your pretentious ass who gives me the Judas’ kiss everytime we bump into each other. Isn’t there a special place in hell for that in your Bible? The comments went on and on. Another thing that surprised me was that these comments come from people whom I least expected to be so judgmental, homophobic and bigoted. And their numbers grow every day. I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if I wake up one day and I have no more facebook friends left to unfriend. Because of what Pacquiao said, I realized who you people really are and how you see me as a person. He said what you couldn’t say to me upfront. So, thanks but no, thanks. You can keep your friendship and I keep my being gay. I choose not to associate myself with you and with anybody who is so against me being myself and me being happy. I happily sever the cords that tie us in anyway. You may ask, with all this long post and hurtful retort, who’s the bigot now? We are all born the same- all empty slates. Most choose to educate ourselves and widen our perspective because it is our duty to ourselves and to the society to which we belong to. By educate, I do not mean to refer to mere academic learning but to the cultivation of the mind to stretch its limits for maximal functioning. Some, though, choose to remain ignorant. That is their choice. My problem with it is when their ignorance drives them to impose their stupidity to the society. What happened to freedom of speech, you may ask? Oh, you are free to say anything stupid but don’t freak out if I point out how stupid it is. Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think. Stupidity is a choice, sexual orientation is not. Ignorance can be fixed, gender identity cannot. Those two are not parallel. So call me whatever you want but I will not sit and be a spectator of stupidity, unfairness, oppression, intolerance, prejudice, and bigotry. Enough harassment and fearmongering already with your sin and your hell and your hate. You have already broken far too many kind spirits. You have driven far too many to the end of their rope.
Let us move on to the next annoying thing: bible thumping. Most people who are so adamant in discriminating the LGBT are well-versed bible thumpers. The rest who join the bandwagon are blind followers who call themselves “good disciples” for supporting the scriptures which they barely read. Aaay-men to that, they preach. We are damned to burn in hell for all eternity for being faggots and for doing butt sex. What else does Leviticus forbid? Well, let’s see. That fatty pork you had for lunch. That dinuguan your father loves so much. That perfectly tattooed eyebrows your mother has. That fabulous dress your sister wears made of multiple fabrics. Eating shrimps, crabs, lobsters, clams, mussels- all these are abominations before the Lord, and are just as detestable as gays are according to your scripture. All who sport a mohawk or a pompadour or an undercut will burn in hell for you should not cut the hair at the sides of your head. Your entire group of friends who loves drinking alcohol will burn in hell as well. Did you just get a shave? Congratulations, you just got yourself a ticket to damnation. It seems like hell is going to be so crowded with all these people. You better pray hard as I do that when we see each other in hell, I won’t be seated next to the throne. Have I forgotten to mention that masturbation and withdrawal method of sex is also forbidden because to spill your seed on the ground displeases God? And did you know that when your brother dies without a son, it is your duty to marry his wife? Should we stone your aunt to death because she is no longer a virgin yet she is unmarried? The list goes on and on and yet I don’t hear you people complaining about any of these. In fact, you continually consciously commit many of these “taboos” repeatedly. Do you hear any of us condemning you to hell because the scriptures say so? Please stop cherry-picking and before you hypocritically point your fingers elsewhere, make sure your hands are spotless clean. My salvation is between me and my God. I don’t see you in the picture. If heaven is going to be filled with folks like you, I’d jump to the fiery pits of hell myself.
To quote Maggie Smith, “My Dear, religion is like a penis. It's a perfectly fine thing for one to have and take pride in, but please don’t take it out, wave it on my face or shove it down my throat.” And believe me, that is saying something coming from a gay man like me. How would you feel if I impose my religious beliefs on you? How would you feel if I judge you and your actions based on what my religion’s sacred scripture says? If I am a Mormon, how would you react if I say your brown skin is a punishment for disobeying God? What do you say when Iglesia ni Cristo claims that only their members can go to heaven or that according to Jehovah’s witnesses, only 144,000 people get to live eternally in paradise? Will you accept our Pastor Apollo Quiboloy as the appointed son of God? If I am Hindu and I say you must worship an elephant god and you cannot eat beef because cows are sacred, will you obey? If I am a muslim, and my holy scripture says, mature men are allowed to marry prepubescent girls, or that it is acceptable to have four wives for as long as you can feed them, or that wives are properties of their husbands, do you accept this? Probably not. You would probably say, I do not accept and believe in those things because my religion and holy book says otherwise. The same is true in reverse. These people do not accept and believe your truths based on your dogmas because they have their own. It is one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path. So please stop imposing your “truths” upon the world just because your bible says so. Not everyone shares your faith. Your religion should serve as YOUR guide to living YOUR life and not to force others how to live theirs. It is so sad to see that the more “religious” some people become, their intolerance and hatred against others also increase. So many people profess themselves “Christians” yet their behaviors are becoming more and more unChristlike- far from your Christ who is full of love and acceptance. We let you be with your religion so please let us be with our peace, love and happiness. Most importantly, laws must be made not merely because your bible says so. Laws should consider everyone equally, and not just a specific group or even the majority. How would you feel if a Muslim leader bans pork and liquor in the Philippines and legitimizes polygamy because his Qur’an says so? You cannot go to court and reason out that you stoned someone to death because your bible commands you to do so against someone who has committed whatever it is that your bible prohibits. I am not against any religion. I am against any fundamentalist who tells me how to live my life and what to be basing on a belief that is not even my own. Stop sourcing your scriptures to make state laws that affect even those outside your religion as if it is a universal infallible truth because newsflash: they are only your truths to which you are entitled, not ours. Stop using your religion and scriptures to justify your crappy, unfounded and bigoted hatred. Your religion and belief is not the center of the universe. Each one of us is at liberty to believe as we wish but it precludes not the right to oppress others because of these beliefs. In the same way, you may not agree, accept or approve of the LGBT and its lifestyle but you have no right to oppress us or prohibit us from doing anything just because your bible says so. Peaceful coexistence demands each of us to make space for tolerance and consideration of other people’s belief even if we do not share them.
The thing that brought about this brawl is the issue of same-sex marriage. Before giving any comment about the issue, honestly, how far have we gone analyzing beyond the whole “against my religion” and “the bible says so” point? Isn’t that the logical thing to do? Before spewing any opinion or taking sides, does it not have to be based on knowing what the provisions are or whether it is constitutional or not? I will not explain to you in detail because I trust if you can have your own opinion, then you should also be able to educate yourself about that. There are however, a number of things I would like to point out.
- We are talking about same-sex marriage as a civil union recognized by law, not necessarily by church. Legal marriage is a secular institution that should not be limited by religious objections to same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage does not force any religion to change their dogmas and grant them the sacrament of matrimony. They are after the civil rights, protection, benefits and legal recognition that civil marriage provides. Please do all of us a favor and read up on these legal implications if this issue is truly important to you.
- Equal rights do not mean special rights. The LGBT wants to be able to marry anyone he or she chooses to just like you do. Perhaps you would be able to understand it in a different scenario: Let’s say you love someone deeply but you cannot marry him or her because you are betrothed to someone else you don’t like due to an arranged marriage thanks to your culture. You can’t choose to marry the one you love. The LGBT is faced with the same dilemma in a similar context but with different variables. It is not the right to marry that is in question but the right to choose whom to marry. Another example is this: I love eating bitter gourd leaves. You should also eat bitter gourd leaves because in the tradition where I grew up, it’s healthy. You can either eat only bitter gourd leaves or starve to death. The LGBT can either marry the opposite sex or stay single forever.
- Why are you so concerned about gay marriage when you are even straight? It does not change any of your rights. It’s like concerning yourself to a predicament between meat alternative and pure vegan diet when you are not even vegetarian.
- I am not voting for gay marriage just because I am gay. To be honest, I currently do not see myself getting married to the opposite sex or the same sex for personal reasons. I’d probably grow old into a shriveled dry prune all alone, but that doesn’t mean every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender should too. Just because I currently do not believe in marriage as an institution doesn’t mean that I should deprive or deny others the chance and the choice to be married to whoever they want to. Nor should you or anyone else for that matter.
- If gay marriage abhors you so, then don’t have one! You are not being forced to be married to the same sex. Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean everyone else should not have it as well.
We all know someone who is part of the LGBT community. He was that kid in the news who killed himself because his own parents disowned him after finding out he was gay. He was that stranger who returned the wallet you dropped somewhere. She was that woman whom you just saw gave food to the poor old lady in the street. They are the odd couple who adopted and raised the love of your life. He is that very hardworking employee you have who is the breadwinner of his family. He is your boss who gives you a pat in the shoulder for a job well done. She is that bartender who just perfectly knows how you want your drink. He is your hairdresser who makes you feel confident and beautiful. He was that nurse who took care of you when you had that shameful disease. She is your proficient teacher who was threatened to be fired from her job should her students know she’s in a relationship with one of your equally competent teachers because they are “bad influences.” He was your lawyer who successfully got you acquitted from a lawsuit that could have cost you and your family everything you have. She was that doctor who cured your mom of cancer. He was that schoolmate who chose cheerleading over basketball. He was that overachiever classmate who constantly needed to prove himself. He is the distant uncle who sponsored your education and who is the reason you have a decent job. She is that cousin of yours whose sense of fashion is limited to polo, plaids and denim. He is your uncle who made all those art homework because you suck at drawing. She is your weird aunt who until now stays single but who pampers you the way your parents never did. She is your barkada who never talked behind your back while everybody else did. She is your childhood friend who always has your back and who knows your deepest darkest secrets. He is your best friend whom you can call at 3 in the morning saying you have a dead body with you and shows up with a shovel, no questions asked. He is your brother whom you have known all along to be gay but hasn’t told you anything for fear that you would beat him up. He is your son who pretends to be straight and keeps being bullied at school a secret because he doesn’t want to disappoint you and dishonor your family’s name. Don’t these beautiful people deserve to be happy? In my experience, the most I’ve had is partial approval. Conditional acceptance. Tolerance only to a certain degree. It’s okay to be gay, just don’t cross-dress and wear make-up. It’s alright to be gay, just don’t flaunt it and don’t be too effeminate. It’s fine to be gay, just don’t kiss and hold hands in public. I love gays but I hope my son doesn’t turn out to be one. I’m okay with gay people but I’m not okay with their lifestyle. I have no problem with you being gay and you can have anyone you want just not my brother, okay? Always with but’s and if’s. It’s okay to be gay just don’t have gay sex. Are you kidding me? Do you even understand what you are saying? It’s all part of the package. My sexuality, orientation, preferences, and identity make me who I am. It’s what makes me gay. I do not beg for your approval or acceptance. I only demand that which is rightfully mine: a dignified, autonomous life. For I, too, am a child of the universe, no less than you are. I have the right to be here just as I am. I have gone through hell and back just to make sense, make peace, accept, embrace and come to terms with who and what I am. Now that I have finally done it, there is nothing in this world that will ever make me change that. Not your acceptance. Not your approval. We did not hide in the closet, society locked us in. When it became too suffocating inside, we busted our way out. We live in a very sick society whose eyes would rather see two men holding guns than holding hands. Pray, for that is what you profess to be good at, that your child does not turn out to be gay for the universe has a twisted sense of humor and you just helped shape this cruel world to be his personal hell.
To our straight allies, I just want to give you a big warm virtual hug and let that hug communicate to you all the feelings I have for which I find no words to suffice. I can’t tell you what it’s like to be gay and I cannot make you understand. Hell, most of us don’t either. Yet with open arms, you still embrace us. I’m not surprised that most allies are women but when a guy identifies as an ally, my heart can’t help but melt just a little. It takes huge balls to stand up against society and its norms. If anything, you have just proven how comfortable and secure you are of your sexuality. Thank you for looking past these husks to seeing the beautiful beings that we truly are even at times when we ourselves have forgotten due to how society paints us to be. Thank you for smiling as these brave souls choose happiness over society. Thank you for reminding us that this is worth fighting for even at times when we feel so tired that giving up seems to be the only option left. Thank you for accepting that this is not just a phase, that we don’t need a cure or that we can’t be fixed. For how do you fix something that is not broken? You are our last strand of hope left in humanity for you make this world bearable for us. You have fought our battle like your own, and for that I honor you. May the universe smile upon you and lead you to your true happiness.
To my LGBT brothers and sisters: hope begins within. As Michael Novotny of Queer as folk said, “In the gay community, we have drag queens, leather daddies, trannies, and couples with children - every color of the rainbow... Being different is what makes us all the same. It's what makes us family.” Each of us has become strong enough to stand alone and unique enough to stand apart but the time has come for us to be wise enough to stand together. Let us celebrate our differences for how do we expect others to show us respect and treat us any better if we ourselves are incapable of what we demand of them? It’s as if we haven’t had enough bashing and bigotry already that we even do it amongst each other. So instead of bitch-staring and back-stabbing each other, retract those claws and keep them sharp for we will be needing them in defending our own. We should all start lending our voices in solidarity so that our battle cry for our right to dignified existence and expression can finally be heard. That’s right. So hold your head up high lest that crown falls off and do what queens always do: we endure.
Oh, and let me just straighten my own crown before I give you my final words with a quote by Myrtle Snow.
Don’t be a hater, dear.