08 May 2010

Why 89: Bless the bigots and the children [7 of 7*]

When Ang Ladlad filed its intent to run in the upcoming elections as a partylist, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) denied it, with officials saying the group is "immoral and a threat to the youth."

Those are such hea
vy words to come out of identified Christian and Muslim officials who wrote the decision to deny. This irritated me as a teacher and wrote a very impassioned reaction to it.

To say that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of
the Philippines are a "threat to the youth," maybe the Comelec officials need to look at the Filipino youth of today. They might be surprised how many of the young ones openly identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender while some simply do not label themselves but live a happy queer life nonetheless. But I digress.

I got irritated by that sweeping generalization. This reminded me of several incidents in the past that made me sad that what these bigoted elders teach our kids is to continue their prejudice towards people different from them. This really makes me so sad, to hand over homophobia as pamana to the next generation. That just sucks.

When I was working full-time as a director of a fantasy family TV show, we had preteens and teens (8-15) in our main cast, and they used to kid around with the staff and crew in between takes. There were several instances where I would hear them utter the word "bakla" as a pejorative and I just cringed. I waited for the other adults to correct this, but that didn't happen. I was saddened to even hear that some of the adults did it, too, to use the word queer as a derogatory joke. What's worse is that sometimes, I hear some adults talk about their apprehension that the kids might be effemnate and hence might grow up to be gay, and they wished that won't happen. Hay... Hirap maging advocate sa media world sometimes. You never know when to stop being a media practitioner and when to begin being an LGBT advocate. But I digress again.

Most times, I let it pass because I was too far from them or I didn't hear the rest of their conversations. But there was one time I didn't. We were setting up the scene, I was walking around the shoot area planning the camera's movement while the boys joked around on the side, waiting for their instructions. "O, standby lang kayo diyan, ha," I said. When I he
ard both the boys and some adults use the word bakla to tease each other in a derogatory way again, I finally had to say something. "Bakit natin nilalait ang mga bakla? Wala naman silang ginawa sa ating masama, di ba? So di dapat natin sila nilalait. Di ba? Okay ba iyon? Puwedeng tigilan na natin iyon? Ha? Okay ba iyon?" Silence. I looked at the faces of the kids and they silently nodded. As for the adults, well, I didn't need to look at them directly to know what they feel. I just hope that what they said stuck.

Di ba nga sabi ng isang ad dati "Sa mata ng isang bata, ang mali ay nagiging tama kapag ginawa ng mga matatanda." But sometimes, it's the adults that need the lessons, badly. The children can actually be more mature than them, I swear.

It saddens me more when a supposed expert on children's welfare would outright discriminate against LGBT parents. I was writing a script before portraying different kinds of families, like a nuclear hetero-led family, a single parent family, a grandparents-led family, and an alternative family featuring two lesbian moms. When the expert-consultant read my script, she immediately sent me a message saying I should remove the lesbian moms be
cause homosexuality isn't allowed in the Philippines and it might confuse the children. I frankly didn't know how to react to this, because our main boss who approved the scripts was a lesbian mother herself. Oh my. In the end, a shot of the lesbian moms family was still included but they weren't verbally pointed out as another kind of family. So sad.

Bless these bigots, for they know not
what they are doing to future generations, teaching homophobia like that. Now that's immoral.

As a teacher, I make it a point not to teach homophobia in the classsroom. I even made special lessons to introduce the concept of human rights to the kids, even if they are learning filmmaking, in the hopes of eradicating any kind of prejudice in them.

Bless the children, for they seem to be catch
ing on more to what this world ought to be - free from prejudice. I hope these kids grow up soon -- the world badly needs them, and they badly need to teach the adults a lesson or two.

So no, Ang Ladlad does not foster any kind of immorality just because its constituents are lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. We are all functioning law-abiding members of society. We
pay our taxes, we patronize local products, we work and try to excel in our jobs, and we contribute to the general welfare of the country. Teach that to the children, please.

How? Vote 89.


*Why 89: 7 of 7 is the last of a seven-part series of creative nonfiction narratives I am writing as a countdown to the upcoming May 10 elections in support of my partylist, Ang Ladlad.

Part 1 of 7 -
The Benefit(s) of Recognition
Part 2 of 7 - The Career Closet
Part 3 of 7 - Medical Maladies, Malpractices and Mistrust
Part 4 of 7 - Equality to Party
Part 5 of 7 - Property Protection
Part 6 of 7 - Sealing the Love with a Kiss... and a Contract

All photos by libay linsangan cantor (1) Ang Ladlad contingent at the 2008 Malate LGBT Pride March (2) production shoot March 2009 (3) lesbian family marching at the
Baguio Pride March June 2009; except (4) from Ang Ladlad's campaign materials.

Feel free to repost and comment. Thanks for reading.

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