An Open Letter to Isagani Cruz August 16, 2006Posted by lagablab in Discrimination, in the news.
Former Supreme Court justice Isagani Cruz wrote in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the “pansy” gay population, a dilution of the virility of males and garce of females and a compromise of the strong and the weak, is marching unobstructed. Below is LAGABLAB’s response to his column:
AN OPEN LETTER TO MR. ISAGANI CRUZ
We, members of the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network Philippines (LAGABLAB-Pilipinas), wish to thank Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Isagani Cruz for giving us yet another proof that homophobia still exists in our society today. His column (“Don we now our gay apparel, August 12, 2006, Page A10) tells us that, indeed, a law penalizing discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs) should be urgently enacted by Congress.
His stark hatred against homosexuals represents a common belief system that continues to deepen the prejudice that the LGBT community encounters. Mr. Isagani Cruz fails to see that such display of bigotry is easily translated into acts that concretely violate human rights and fundamental freedoms, values whose universality and primacy a former Supreme Court justice should have been able to grasp and uphold. After all, the Supreme Court as an institution has a long tradition of defending civil liberties and human rights. It is therefore ironic that one of its former justices finds it easy to dehumanize us, target us for exclusion, and deny us the right to celebrate our diversity and dignity.
He claims that his scathing homophobia is only reserved to homosexuals who do not conduct themselves decorously. However, his sense of propriety, going by his narrow-minded perspective, means conforming to the destructive boundaries and restrictive stereotypes that our conservative society has established for LGBTs. It means tolerating biased labor policies and practices that act like a glass ceiling that blocks our productivity, or enduring verbal and physical abuses from our own family members or from our immediate community. Mr. Cruz wants us to believe that the fate of homosexuals who openly claim their space in our society as equal members of the human family is a lifetime of humiliation and discrimination. Unless we conform to the whims of people like Mr. Cruz, we should willingly accept that fate. To him, only when we are invisible or servile to what he claims to be the “privileged sex” can we expect acceptance from our society.
Mr. Cruz should understand that human dignity has no sexual orientation or gender identity. Homosexuality is hardly a dilution of the male and female sexes, and femininity and womanhood, upon which equal scorn and prejudice have been heaped by Mr. Cruz, are not synonymous to weakness. The ‘third sex’ that he ridicules does not exist at all, since we are all equal in dignity and respect, as affirmed by our Constitution, our laws, and the international agreements on equality and human rights that the Philippines signed.
The Filipino LGBT community will continue to march – in sagalas and during the annual Pride parade – because we do not take bigotry sitting down. The likes of Mr. Cruz can’t – and we will not let them – push the Filipino LGBT community back to invisibility.
By Isagani Cruz
Published on Page A10 of the August 12, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
HOMOSEXUALS before were mocked and derided, but now they are regarded with new-found respect and, in many cases, even treated as celebrities. Only recently, the more impressionable among our people wildly welcomed a group of entertainers whose main proud advertisement was that they were “queer.” It seems that the present society has developed a new sense of values that have rejected our religious people’s traditional ideas of propriety and morality on the pretext of being “modern” and “broad-minded.”
The observations I will here make against homosexuals in general do not include the members of their group who have conducted themselves decorously, with proper regard not only for their own persons but also for the gay population in general. A number of our local couturiers, to take but one example, are less than manly but they have behaved in a reserved and discreet manner unlike the vulgar members of the gay community who have degraded and scandalized it. I offer abject apologies to those blameless people I may unintentionally include in my not inclusive criticisms. They have my admiration and respect.
The change in the popular attitude toward homosexuals is not particular to the Philippines. It has become an international trend even in the so-called sophisticated regions with more liberal concepts than in our comparatively conservative society. Gay marriages have been legally recognized in a number of European countries and in some parts of the United States. Queer people — that’s the sarcastic term for them — have come out of the closet where before they carefully concealed their condition. The permissive belief now is that homosexuals belong to a separate third sex with equal rights as male and female persons instead of just an illicit in-between gender that is neither here nor there.
When I was studying in the Legarda Elementary School in Manila during the last 1930s, the big student population had only one, just one, homosexual. His name was Jose but we all called him Josefa. He was a quiet and friendly boy whom everybody liked to josh but not offensively. In the whole district of Sampaloc where I lived, there was only one homosexual who roamed the streets peddling “kalamay” and “puto” and other treats for snacks. He provided diversion to his genial customers and did not mind their familiar amiable teasing. I think he actually enjoyed being a “binabae” [effeminate].
The change came, I think, when an association of homos dirtied the beautiful tradition of the Santa Cruz de Mayo by parading their kind as the “sagalas” instead of the comely young maidens who should have been chosen to grace the procession. Instead of being outraged by the blasphemy, the watchers were amused and, I suppose, indirectly encouraged the fairies to project themselves. It must have been then that they realized that they were what they were, whether they liked it or not, and that the time for hiding their condition was over.
Now homosexuals are everywhere, coming at first in timorous and eventually alarming and audacious number. Beauty salons now are served mostly by gay attendants including effeminate bearded hairdressers to whom male barbers have lost many of their macho customers. Local shows have their share of “siyoke” [gay men], including actors like the one rejected by a beautiful wife in favor of a more masculine if less handsome partner. And, of course, there are lady-like directors who are probably the reason why every movie and TV drama must have the off-color “bading” [gay] or two to cheapen the proceedings.
And the schools are now fertile ground for the gay invasion. Walking along the University belt one day, I passed by a group of boys chattering among themselves, with one of them exclaiming seriously, “Aalis na ako. Magpapasuso pa ako!” [“I’m leaving. I still have to breastfeed!”] That pansy would have been mauled in the school where my five sons (all machos) studied during the ’70s when all the students were certifiably masculine. Now many of its pupils are gay, and I don’t mean happy. I suppose they have been influenced by such shows as “Brokeback Mountain,” our own “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” (both of which won awards), “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and that talk program of Ellen Degeneres, an admitted lesbian.
Is our population getting to be predominantly pansy? Must we allow homosexuality to march unobstructed until we are converted into a nation of sexless persons without the virility of males and the grace of females but only an insipid mix of these diluted virtues? Let us be warned against the gay population, which is per se a compromise between the strong and the weak and therefore only somewhat and not the absolute of either of the two qualities. Be alert lest the Philippine flag be made of delicate lace and adorned with embroidered frills.