Homophobia In The Philippines And Why It Persists To This Day

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Homosexuality is probably one of the most polarizing topics of today. Just mention the subject in a given community and you’re likely to end up with two large groups with one being pro-gay all the way and the other openly demonizing the other as hateful sinners. If you’re lucky, you might get one or two smaller groups who instead support moderation but that will likely be a rarity. More likely than not, there will just be two groups; one pro and one anti.

gay_rightsOver the years though, the media has been making claims about breaking the barriers between the homosexual and heterosexual community. Unfortunately, while some progress can be seen from time to time, much of the stigma still remains and it’s sad to note that there are still quite a number of homosexuals and bisexuals who refuse to come out of their closets because of how society might view and react to them. While there may be many who support gay rights, it comes into question just what being gay actually means in our society and what people expect of you when you come out of your closet.

While I am not a member of the LGBT community, I have many close friends among them who openly lament on how society often misinterprets them. To this day, a good number of them still stay in their closets although some of them do have more or less transparent closets for those willing to look hard enough.

An example of such an incident was when I was running on a treadmill with one of my said gay friends. The treadmills in our gym come with cable TVs so we can watch a TV program while running. As my friend changed the channel, he somehow found the movie adaptation of Zsazsa Zaturnnah, the one with Rustom Padilla who changes into the said superheroine who was, in turn, played by Zsazsa Padilla. My friend sighed suddenly and simply turned off the TV.

Later that day, I spoke to him and asked why the movie saddened him so much even though it was supposed to represent the gay community that he was a part of. He answered me with a weary sigh and told me that while a lot of local films and TV programs use homosexual characters, few of them are ever really portrayed in a positive light and are almost always the stereotypical flamboyant gays Filipino society is familiar with. I asked him about many of the LGBT-oriented films and shows that are produced of late and it seems that all of them are disappointing to the LGBT community and he went on to note that programs of this sort only serve to further the misunderstanding between homosexuals and heterosexuals.

For instance, while Zsazsa Zaturnnah did depict the plight of a common homosexual hairdresser, my friend notes that this already creates the impression that all gays are hairdressers and make-up artists. It annoys him to no end when people ask him to help them “touch up” for a given event as he only knows a passing on how to actually apply make up. When the people ask for his favor don’t end up with the look they want, he is often called out and even told: “Akala ko ba bakla ka, dapat alam mo iyan!” (I thought you were gay, you’re supposed to know how to do it!) Also of of note is the fact that the main character in the movie is able to transform into a female superhero which seems to imply that all gays want to turn into women (and possibly all lesbians want to turn into men). However, should you ever meet my friend, he makes no effort to look or act feminine and, based on my observations at least, wouldn’t look out of place in the higher echelons of the Italian Mafia.

My friend also mentioned the TV series “My Husband’s Lover” which has also been discussed in some previous articles and comments by ChinoF and FallenAngel respectively. Just like what FallenAngel said, my friend also said that the show had plenty of potential. There were probably few broadcasting companies out there who would openly tackle the topic of homosexuality and how it affects our society. Unfortunately, the show was made to fit the similar vein of just about every Pinoy TV series out there with the main topic mostly being about adultery and dysfunction in the family. As my friend said: “This show could have shown people something different. They could’ve made us (gays) look like real human beings for the first time and not the usual Barbie-doll wannabes they usually associate with us. But then I saw what the show was really about. Ultimately, the show failed to humanize us and make us sympathetic to the audience. Instead, they showed people that we are indeed a scourge to society and possibly dangerous to this country’s so-called values. In the end, they just showed the world that we could become home-wreckers, making the way people see us even worse.”

Then our conversation drifted over to Vice Ganda, his antics and his films and my friend only sneered. Again, it was apparent that Vice Ganda is just another misleading example of what being gay is all about. According to my friend, Vice Ganda’s jokes might be okay with a select audience such as when in a gay bar but they are not something you’re supposed to air on live television where other people can see another person being ridiculed and might be something imitated by children. He also seems to condemn the Praybeyt Benjamin films as it fails to create any alternate view of the homosexual community and sticks to stereotypes rather than fully exploring what it means to be a gay person in the military and that the films could be could be considered open insults to both the LGBT community and the Philippine military.

He tells me that the film V for Vendetta presents a fairer interpretation of gays even if the Wachowski Brothers and James McTeigue didn’t exactly get all of their information right. Despite the crew’s mishandling of historical facts, my friend praised the film for presenting homosexuals in a very humanizing light. It showed audiences that gays and lesbians were like everyone else with their own interests and opinions and only differed in who they preferred to love. He also went on to tell me that Stephen Fry is a superior comedian to Vice Ganda because he manages to make fun of himself and his intended target without looking too silly in the process.

With the opinions of my friend and my own observations, I can tell that it will still be somewhat difficult for homosexuals to integrate themselves into mainstream Philippine society because of what’s expected of them. The media’s depiction of LGBT individuals often fail to accurately present to audiences what it means to be homosexual and further ostracize them from society.

I think that if we want equal rights for everyone, then I think it’s time we started treating each other as equals.

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40 Comments on “Homophobia In The Philippines And Why It Persists To This Day”

  1. However LGBTs are portrayed in today’s media, it’s not homophobia. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders — all are more-or-less fully accepted into contemporary Pinoy society (though the average Pinoy will likely be unable to differentiate between a trangender and a gay) — the sheer number of stereotypical flamboyant gay portrayals, if it is indicative of anything at all, is indicative of our collective preference for comedy (and romance, but I can’t remember any gays taking leading roles in the genre).

    tl;dr = stereotyping =/= homophobia.

    1. There is greater tolerance of the LGBT community in the Philippines than in most countries. However, I would argue with Pallacertus that there is full acceptance. Of 700 LGBT members recently interviewed, one in ten claim that they have suffered violence at the hands of members of their own families.

      Many LGBT suffer discrimination and humiliation in school from their classmates, teachers, and school personnel. Many gays suffer similar experiences on the job. A friend was recently fired from his job for “wearing an earring.”

      I do not appear to be anything other than a heterosexual man. However, my lover is flamboyantly feminine. I have lost track of the number of times he has been assaulted and the number of times I have had to take him to the emergency room.

      A great deal of repression of gays comes from the conservative lawmakers and their allies in the Catholic clergy. Oddly enough, some of the most strident opponents of LGBT rights are closet cases themselves; who have been leading double lives and are in fear of being discovered.

      These two articles offer more specifics:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_the_Philippines

      http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/601549/ph-tolerates-gays-but-abuses-continue

      1. The post you replied to was made with my own personal experience in mind. Given the content of that post, I guess you could surmise that my childhood was more idyllic — that I had more understanding role models — than that of most people in this country. I don’t say this to brag or anything; it’s just that that was (and is) the way I saw things as I was growing up — a kindly and amiable co-existence. Not just tolerance but… I don’t know, camaraderie?

    2. (though the average Pinoy will likely be unable to differentiate between a trangender and a gay)

      It’s because Filipino word “bakla” applies on both gays and transgender, no wonder it confused the average Filipino about their differences

  2. If it makes you feel any better, video games does a better job at portraying homosexuals without being flamboyant.

    The Mass Effect series and even Fallout. Just look up Arcade Gannon and Veronica. Both are homosexuals yet are portrayed as just people who happen to have a preference in their own gender.

    1. Yes. I installed that in my friend’s computer. He seems to be enjoying that.

      Unfortunately, I am stuck in the “Sins of the Father” mission because I can’t follow the Turian politician when he goes into a room.

      🙁

  3. I remember there is a special feature aired way before during a late night at ABS-CBN. It was called Kinse (Fifteen) and is composed of 15 short shitty indie films.

    One of those films features two young boys, both male and apparently they are friends. But then one day, it is strongly implied that the other smaller guy is becoming gay. And then he tried to hold the hand of his friend’s hand, and as a reprisal the other boy gets the nearest rock and slam it to the other boy’s head, killing him in the process.

    Then the short film ended with the boy, walking away towards the camera with an angry stare like he’s saying that he’d did the right thing.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t remember reading something about religion vis-a-vis homosexuality in the article above.

    Of all the issues raised about the difficulty in terms of acceptance of gays/lesbians, etc. religion proves to be the hardest to hurdle. In fact, it would be an impossibility to overcome the taboo imposed by religion against homosexuality.

    1. You can add those people to the “anti” group in the first paragraph. I was thinking of adding them but I was worried I would end up making the article too long.

      But yes, you got a strong point there, one of the biggest opponents of homosexuality is the Church and their more radical elements can and have proven to be very uncooperative regarding the whole acceptance thing…

      1. And pardon me for stretching too much, I found it ironic (religion’s abomination of homosexuality) because we are all well aware of the existence of homosexuality even in their own rank.

      1. “Bigot= a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.”

        Dick=male
        vagina=female

        its not an opinion, but a fact.

        1. The fact is that you are ingnorant about human sexuality. There is nothing scientific about the bible.

    1. I’m not going to call you a bigot for I really don’t know you. Your words may not exactly define who you are but it gives readers a little bit of clue of what you may be. And based on your post, I think, you need to read and learn more on the subject of homosexuality.

      Additional knowledge sometimes free us from the confines of the limited information we have on issues.

  5. i see double standards. when 2 girls kiss, its labeled as “sexy” and a lot of self-identified heterosexual males jerk off to it. but when 2 guys kiss, it’s an abomination to them.

    1. Actually, now that you mention it, there are LOTS of double-standards in society and not just in the Philippines.

      However, you present a strong point there T. If we want a tolerant society, we should learn to do away with such things as “double standards”.

    2. I’d infer the double standard comes from the thought that women are perceived as “beautiful” and kissing another woman is seen as such. The same double standard applies for when men and women duke it out with the same gender. It’s “manly” for the former but crude and unsightly for the latter. Simple gender stereotyping.

      1. That’s where I’d have to disagree. I like watching women in the UFC. However, what I do not like is Ronda Rhoussey’s poor treatment of her opponents. Very unsportsman-like (or unsportswoman-like, if you prefer) I should say in the least.

  6. I was told by a bi friend that his bisexuality is initially, a result of experimentation. See, he never thought himself a bisexual in fact he had two girlfriends previously. Then there’s this guy who tried courting him and then he began battling with the idea of same-sex relationship, if it’s possible and doable. He’s a Christian, you see, and with entertaining that kind of thought, obviously he got more concerned about his experimentation, what he really is or still could be. So he got himself involved with the guy and soon enough found himself in love with that guy. He’s now in a serious same-sex relationship and they have a child he fathered with a girl he paid to give him a baby (and he said he enjoyed the process of making the baby with that girl). I guess these things just confused me because in the present day psychological opinion or study about homosexuality, they no longer consider it as abnormal (in secular belief). My friend chose his partner base on love anyway.

    1. Removal of homosexuality as a disorder is brought about by the psychological society decision to be “political correct” and abandon the truth and accuracy of gender classification.

      Bunch of hypocrite individual who “removed” homosexuality as disorder,but at the same time retains other psychological disorder based on sexual preference such as ” bestiality” or “necrophilia” ?

      Why is homosexuality so special to be removed from the said list of disorder?? Why is it consider normal for a person to be attracted to same sex when it is consider to be abnormal for same person to be attracted to a beast or inanimate object?

      Nature dictates that an animal/person should only be sexually attracted to the opposite sex of his kind, any other kind of attraction should and must be considered as abnormality.

      if the LGBT community decides to accept this cold hard facts, then maybe the society acceptance will follow.

      1. “Nature dictates”? “Cold hard facts”? Please. Cosi fan tutte — Link.

        Bestiality and necrophilia don’t really count — at the very least, a dead person or an animal can’t know that someone is attracted to them enough to fuck; on the other hand, loving and mutually reciprocal relationships are possible among LGBT couples.

      2. Nature dictates that an animal/person should only be sexually attracted to the opposite sex of his kind, any other kind of attraction should and must be considered as abnormality.
        ========
        Is there a scientific proof on that?

      3. Why is it consider normal for a person to be attracted to same sex….. – killem
        ======
        If attraction means making love with the opposite sex, that’s their business. They are expressing their emotions and feelings between them. If they say they love one another, I don’t see why it’s my business to go in between in that relationship.

        People have feelings. If they share love with another person and cares for him/her, why will I go against it? Why oppose something that is positive and very human (to love and care)?

        Yes, I’m aware that there are holy books that exists that condemns homosexuality. But I’m also aware that homosexuality has been here forever and it’s practice as a way of life has been going on even before I was born; even before my ancestors were born; even before this country was born. 😉

        1. It is not also not my business. My only point is that there is only two gender classification: man(with penis) and women (vagina), no in-between. If someone profess that he/she is a man traps in woman’s body and vice versa, then he/she is a part of the abnormality that deviates from the gender classification.

        2. My only point is that there is only two gender classification: man(with penis) and women (vagina), NO IN-BETWEEN. If someone profess that he/she is a man traps in woman’s body and vice versa,

          then he/she is a part of the abnormality that DEVIATES from the gender classification.
          ========
          And that’s the ‘in-between’. 🙂

      4. @killem:

        Is your name “killem” a shortened version of “kill them”? If so, who would you like to kill?

        Asexuality, bi-sexuality, and homosexuality are considered “normal variations” by the American Psychological Assoc. and many other professional organizations in Europe and the USA. This is a conclusion reached by many heterosexual scientists and academics. The LGBT community did not make this pronouncement back in the 1970’s.

        The idea that “Nature” can dictate anything is an absurd concept.
        Before displaying your ignorance again, do a little research. See:
        What is the difference between sex, sexuality and gender? What is a sexual orientation? What constitutes being”normal”?

  7. I have no quarrels with homosexuals…they are people also.

    There are many homosexuals, even in the highest positions of our government…

  8. I have no quarrels with homosexuals…they are people also. – Toro
    ========
    Okay, I got you. You only quarrel with dogs, cats, horses, snail, etc. Not with people. Fine 🙂

    There are many homosexuals, even in the highest positions of our government… – Toro
    ========
    Many? How many? How did you know? Did you conduct some sort of a survey or something?

    Can you tell what are those ‘highest positions’?

    Is that the reason why you don’t quarrel with gay, because they occupied high positions?

    Explain please. Kindly, too. 😉

  9. I have no problems with the LGBT community what people hates about this type of people are, for example when me and my friend walking around the mall to look for stuffs for our college project we heard a two gay men talking about their gay sex experience where people can hear them clearly it was a busy establishment.

    “The guy penetrated my ass, I really felt good last night!”

    “Talaga! give me his number!”

    My friend and I really felt awkward because they were standing near the line where people are about to pay for what they purchased.

    I do not generalized all gay people but when you talk about stuff like that they should have done that in discretion, the problem here is attitude, with the freedom they enjoyed I fear that many as the one we encountered before being so bold, bold enough to even say stuff like that in public, even deeming it is ok to say such things when people are around and young ones listening to them.

    My only point is watch your attitude. Watch your surroundings because if you don’t respect other people don’t doubt why people don’t respect you.

    I especially hate people who are so rude, very rude, who only think about themselves.

    1. @Brown Eyes:

      Have you never heard two straight guys bragging about their sexual exploits in a graphic manner? Is that OK?

      Apparently you feel that freedom of speech should only apply to topics that you approve of. Not everyone feels that sex is dirty and evil. If you want to shelter your children; the obligation is on you, not to those around you. Public spaces are open to everyone. As long as no one is breaking the law; there is little you can or should do about it. Perhaps making a polite suggestion might work. Ever try it?

      To me, it is odd that parents will let their children watch all kinds of violence on TV. That to me is much more obscene than images of people making love.

      Incidentally, you may want to know that “Brown Eye” is a euphemism for “anus.” It is ironic that you use that as your online name; since you are obviously horrified by the subject of anal sex

      1. Let’s not turn this into a freedom of speech debate. The guy is only miffed about a certain group of homosexuals and those are the classic flamboyant Queen type. And I agree they tend to broadcast a little too much of their personal lives to the public not unlike those heterosexual stud manwhores. Doesn’t help that they perpetuate the stereotype in the media thus becoming the poster children of an entire sexual orientation to the dismay of the more mature homosexuals.

  10. eh kasi nga karamihan ng pelikulang pilipino (lalo na yung pang-mmff) hindi ginamitan ng utak para gawin, at hindi kailangan ng utak para panoorin

  11. We’re sick of hearing people say, “That band is so gay,” or “Those guys are fags.” Gay is not a synonym for shitty. If you wanna say something’s shitty, say it’s shitty. Stop being such homophobic assholes.

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