Whenever people say derogatory things about gay people or use terms pertaining to gay people to talk about things which are not very nice, very few people would get disturbed. What’s there to be disturbed about, after all? It’s not like it isn’t widely practiced. It’s not like it’s new. It’s not like…we aren’t guilty of it ourselves one time or another.
I am a strong advocate of gay rights. People who work with me oftentimes tell me that the battles we fight may never end. And you know what hurts the most? Discrimination against gay people get more casual and casual that I get surprised at myself whenever I hear something derogatory and just let it slide. Most of the time, I am just tired.
I wrote this several months ago:
“Something that’s casually derogatory is, for me, the worst form of discrimination. It is the kind of oppression that seeps through one’s bones and is being imprinted at the discriminator’s soul. Sure, it may not hurl hurting words in loud voices and finger-pointing but it hurts the minority all the more. The thing with this form of subtlety is that it defines the heart of discrimination—privilege presumption. Discrimination doesn’t really have a purpose; most people discriminate without intending to, without thought, without reason. Discrimination happens because people think they can get away with it. People think it’s a privilege and they know that it’s “acceptable”. And this mindset is dangerous, when it snowballs, because it normalizes discrimination.
It’s just like jaywalking in Davao. People don’t just wake up and tell themselves “Oh I feel like I want to jaywalk today!” People jaywalk because they know they can do it and subsequently get away with it.”
It’s not easy to ward off discrimination because it can exist in the littlest, day-to-day forms, to something as big as Mommy Dionisia’s statement on national TV (about gays being “immoral” because they drink pills to acquire female hormones). Before, I only ranted about it. Today, I am taking this opportunity to educate people on how to fight gay discrimination little by little. Read on and you’ll see it’s not a very bitter pill to swallow:
1. Remember that gay people are just like you. They have the same rights, they harbor the same feelings, and they pay the same taxes.
2. Try not to let their gayness overpower the some important facets of their personality. I know it’s easy to introduce someone to a friend (or prospect client) and say “Si Joy, remember? Kadtong tomboy?” (Joy? Remember? That lesbian?) Try to introduce your gay friend using his/ her profession or simply use the all-convenient form of representation: the name.
3. Never assume that a man loses his masculinity just because he is going out with another man. Same goes for women. Also, never interchange appropriate pronouns (he to she, or she to he) unless you are sure the person pertained to is comfortable with it.
4. Never out someone. (To “out” means to tell someone or people that a gay person is such even if that person hides his gayness to the world. A homosexual who acts straight or who is not vocal about his/ her homosexuality is referred to as someone “in the closet”.) These people are in the closet for many reasons. Usually it is fear. Wait for them to come out of the closet by themselves and don’t force them to. It’s not your secret to tell.
5. If you think that you are about to say something offensive, say “no offense”. Always try to “ask permission” if you think that you are about to say something derogatory. They’d appreciate it.
By the way, yesterday, New York just passed the Equality in Marriage Act and they have also legalized same-sex marriage there. As for the Philippines, with the people still yapping about divorce and the RH bills, we still have a long way to go. But we’ll get there. I hope I can still live long enough to enjoy it.
And by then, people will be casually gay about it. Many of us are crossing our fingers.