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.
Over 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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