Two things: one, my presence in the list seemed like a non-issue, and I didn’t want to make such a big deal about it or draw unnecessary attention to being featured, as opposed to what the whole campaign should represent, which is that the LGBT community deserves respect and recognition for its efforts at improving our society.
(Notice I didn’t say tolerance or acceptance, because both mean that the community gives illusory power to the heteronormative majority, giving them the privilege to either accept or reject the LGBT community, which should not be the case.)
It must be said though that, yes, I felt all jittery.
Which brings me to my second reason for hesitating, which was that I’ve never really properly come out in any way. Sure, some of my friends know, and I suppose my family knows to a degree, but I’ve always compartmentalized things, thinking that this part of me shouldn’t color who I am or what I can do.
In the process of this compartmentalization though–of not acknowledging this part of me when I am with some of my peers, colleagues, or friends, I realized that I am somewhat responsible for fueling the stigma and discrimination that the community face.
To be frank, I have lived a life of privilege. Considering that a lot of hate and ridicule abound from people who have yet to truly understand what gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender is–and really, much needs to be done to reverse misconceptions about the LGBT community as well as educate Filipinos on the complexities of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (because it’s really more complicated than looking at your genitalia, truth be told), I have mostly been sheltered from the cruelty and violence a lot of LGBT people face on a regular basis.
However, while some companies (mine included, along with quite a number from the BPO sector) are more inclusive and have also instituted policies against discrimination, we should know that the law still does not protect a huge number of LGBT professionals from unfair rejection and stigma, leading a lot of people to hide in the closet–among various other reasons.
I know it’s very easy to judge people for not coming out, and often times the community’s internalized homophobia/transphobia has led to judgment and ridicule of people who refuse to expose themselves, but we have to recognize, it’s a harsh world out there.
(If you need any proof how horrible people can get, just Google “Piolo Pascual” and read through the comments people make.)
Some would rather not fight the battle for the LGBT community, and while depressing, it’s understandable.
To pigeonhole people who opt to stay in the closet as cowards though is not only unfair–it is overly simplistic and does not do well for the community in general. Witch-hunting closeted LGBTs and smoking them out of their holes is not very compassionate nor sensitive to their personal journeys.
Like what my friend Benedict said, acceptance is a process. Self-acceptance takes time. All of us are going through life searching for ourselves, trying to figure out who we are, what we should be, and how we fit in the grand scheme of things. And that’s okay. (I’m actually more wary of people who are utterly certain of themselves–one only needs to remember one’s youth to realize that only the young and dumb are absolutely sure of the world and are arrogantly confident of what they know.)
Like most, this process has not been easy for me. There was a lot of confusion and questioning before I began to grow into who I am now. And I’m still growing into myself. I think a lot of us are. I wouldn’t say I’m the kindest person out there, but I’d like to think that I try. And I’m thankful that a lot of people try really hard to be better people too–trying to be nicer and to be kinder and to be more gentle to others.
I came out not to brag about who I am. It is what it is, I am what I am. But hopefully, by doing so, I can let go of a bit of negativity I bring upon myself, as well as come to terms with my reality. And also, I hope that by doing so, I can join the rest who are making things a bit easier for the next generation–that this small act will snowball with the rest of little acts, and pave the way to a future when it won’t even matter whether you’re gay or bi or straight, or whether you’re transgender or cisgender–and the things that will matter is if you act like a jerk towards other people or not, or if you are an asshole towards children, or if you kick puppies or kittens or other helpless animals.
You know–the more important things.