The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has been thrown in the spotlight after boxing champion and Philippine congressman Manny Pacquiao’s controversial statement saying they are worse than animals. While he received a lot of flak from people around the world and consequently got fired by his sponsor, shoe manufacturing giant Nike, Pacquiao also received a lot of support from those who share his views.
Many of his supporters say that he is entitled to his opinion just like any regular guy. The problem is, Pacquiao is not a regular guy. He is an internationally-renowned athlete and is treated like a celebrity everywhere he goes. His millions of followers look up to him and take his words very seriously. His words can ignite anti-homosexual attitudes and promote intolerance in communities around the world. Already we are seeing people arguing online over his statements – religious groups against LGBT supporters – and things are becoming nasty. To be fair, both sides tend to act like lynch mobs.
The worst part is, since he is a lawmaker in the Philippines, Pacquiao can come up with laws that could make homosexuals feel unwelcome in the country. Some say he could eventually ban homosexuals considering he doesn’t think too highly of them.
Indeed, Pacquiao is entitled to his opinion but he has to learn to choose his words very carefully. There are people from certain groups like the gay community who have received their fair share of beating just for being who they are. In the past, gays have been bullied and even murdered for being “different”. What I’m trying to say is, while on the surface, gays and lesbians seem to be accepted by the general community nowadays, a lot of people still resent their lifestyle. Some people’s views against homosexuals get validated when popular figures like Pacquiao share their own views via mainstream media. Some of these people hate homosexuals enough to kill the first one they see.
Prior to Pacquiao’s statement, most people agreed that he is a likeable person. It’s not surprising since he has helped a lot of people in his district General Santos City with his generosity. He is said to have used his own money to build houses for thousands of poor people. While his actions are commendable, it is not a long-term solution to fixing poverty in the Philippines. Most of what he does are Band-Aid solutions. Besides, Pacquiao helping the poor using his own money is not sustainable not to mention unwise on his part. The money could run out eventually. Furthermore, it is encouraging people to be too reliant on handouts. A more sustainable way to help would have been to provide livelihood projects for the poor so they could work for a living.
His supporters who cite his generosity in defending him should realize that his generosity is not a license for him to spread hatred against people who have values and belief systems different to his.
While Pacquiao’s statement deserves to be criticized, I can understand why there are people who hate members of the LGBT community particularly in the Philippines. A lot of those who represent homosexuals in Philippine show business are crass and vulgar. They seem to be obsessed with talking about sex and acting it out in their shows.
One such homosexual who is very popular in the Philippines is Vice Ganda. He quite often dresses inappropriately and uses language not suitable for children under 15 years of age. Unfortunately, he has a lot of underage followers who even emulate him. Another homosexual representative in show business is Boy Abunda. He may not be as rude and crude as Vice Ganda but his show promotes gossiping – talking about people instead of ideas. This is not good for the society.
Incidentally, Vice Ganda has come under fire for his lascivious acts during a concert in Japan gyrating on stage with two men. It seems some homosexuals like Vice Ganda are overcompensating for something by acting like nymphomaniacs in public.
The point is, when Filipinos think of homosexuals, what comes to their mind are gays like Vice Ganda and Boy Abunda. That’s enough for a lot of people to become homophobic.
Not all homosexuals act like Vice Ganda and he is not doing the LGBT community any favors by acting like a sexually-deprived individual on stage in his shows. I know a few homosexuals who don’t act like Vice Ganda and you wouldn’t even think they are gay because they are very fine and proper. It is not fair for homosexuals like them to be represented by the likes of Vice Ganda.
In a lot of progressive countries, homosexuals are not exclusively represented by what some call in derogatory terms “screaming faggots”. The Americans have fashion designer and movie director Tom Ford; the United Kingdom has highly-acclaimed actor Sir Ian McKellen, among other prominent folks. You wouldn’t even realize some of them are homosexuals because they are very discrete. There are homosexuals in the medical and law professions – they are professionals who lead quiet and respectable lives and do not deserve to be lumped in the same mold as Vice Ganda.
It’s a shame that the LGTB community in the Philippines is represented by such characters like Vice Ganda. Some homosexuals actually don’t want him to represent the gay community. Goes to show that it’s not only Pacquiao who is taking the country in the wrong direction. The best way to fix this dilemma is to meet halfway. Pacquiao should promote tolerance of homosexuals and the LGBT community should speak out against people like Vice Ganda and stop them from promoting promiscuity and overall appalling behavior in public.
[Photo courtesy ABS-CBN News.]