It is tough to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, moreso a transgender in the Philippines. Growing up in a religious family and studying in an all girls Catholic school for 14 years, there was no space to explore my sexuality. Somehow, I found my way despite the shame and anxiety. This is a common struggle for most LGBTQ people and others have it much worse than I did.
While there is more tolerance for LGBTQ’s existence in the country, it is just that, tolerance. There is still so much prejudice. There are still offensive remarks and jokes with reference to gays and lesbians, dirty looks are thrown in the direction of two men or women holding hands and kissing in public, and then there’s the bigger issue of not recognizing and legalizing same-sex marriage.
The Manny Pacquiao issue has brought out immense anger and disgust from the LGBTQ community. I feel proud and inspired because the community and our allies are fighting back. We are growling loud, yes, because for the longest time we have been silent while our humanity is stepped on and our rights are set aside.
I have nothing against Manny Pacquiao. He is a terrific boxer and has brought so much pride to our country. I’ll give him that. On that note, he is a horrible basketball player and politician who does not deserve his seat in the Congress and definitely does not deserve to win a seat in the Senate.
I was never going to vote for him in the coming elections although I know he is going to win. And then, something unbelievable happened. Catholics and Christians started defending him and what he said, quoting the Bible. There are only 2 people who I love with all my heart and whose opinions I respect when it comes to the Bible and the church. To the everyone else who are hating, if you truly believe and know the Bible and God, you must know that you do not have the right to condemn and judge other people and you should have more grace and compassion for those who do not have the same beliefs as you do.
Pacman, maybe, is a changed man now that he is a devout Christian. His sins of the past (um, anybody forgot about Krista Ranillo?) are forgiven when he accepted Jesus Christ as his saviour. Quite frankly, I admire that. Nevertheless, this does not give him the right to call us, LGBTQ, animals. More than that, he is a politician who is running for a seat in Senate, he should know better than to be tactless in front of the media. I respect his opinion on same-sex marriage, the same way I respect his beliefs.
However, marriage is a human and civil right. Regardless of race, religion and gender, everybody should be able to get married with the person they love. It is not a special privilege given to heterosexuals who belong to institutions of a select religions.
I, personally, don’t want to get married. For me, it is an expensive social contract to express love. But this issue is bigger than myself and certainly bigger than Pacman. I know a lot of LGBTQ people who wants to get married. This is not just for the sake of expressing love — this is about the legality that comes with being married. You can make your partner your beneficiary in your pension/insurance, you can buy a house together, you can make health-related decisions on your partner’s behalf, you can adopt a kid, and so much more.
The LGBTQ people are humans who deserve respect and equal rights. The LGBTQ people are your family members, friends, and office mates. You say you love them BUT in the same line say they can’t have the same rights as you do.
So here’s the thing, we chose this life and we are going to fight for what is rightfully ours. We are not asking for you and your religion or your church to accept us. We are asking for the people in power to put their own personal beliefs aside and allow marriage equality in the country. We are asking everyone for more openness and compassion, and a whole lot less prejudice.
There are so many people who have had enough of this issue and said we need to move on to more pressing issues. I agree that there are lot of other issues we could talk about like climate change, food security, instability in the West Philippines Sea, and even Russia freezing its oil output. Although, I would insist and encourage more conversations about this. The acceptance of LGBTQ people in the community speaks to our humanity, to our compassion towards another human being, to our grace that allows us to be respectful of other people’s beliefs and values, and to the understanding that everyone is entitled to live how they want to live.
And finally, in the words of Callie Torres, please remember that:
Spread the love,