Tag Archive | "gay"

I Chose to Be Gay

Yes, I chose to be gay. Now before you accuse me of ignorance or political incorrectness, and lecture me on how dangerous and irresponsible this statement is, please hear what I have to say. Consider this my second “coming out.”

An overwhelming majority of the literature I’ve come across with claim that I did not choose this life. Why would I, if all it brings is suffering? Lady Gaga has honored my tribe by singing to the world that I was “born this way.” But the people on the other side of the table claim that it is a political strategy. This is the minority who claim that no one is born gay, that being gay is an option.

I have read enough material, and have debated with enough people to say that both camps have valid and invalid arguments. However, I don’t like the idea of other people speaking on my behalf. So, like any freethinking individual driven by critical analysis and introspection, I had to evaluate my own personal experience in order to answer the question: “Was I born this way or did I choose to be gay?”

Obviously, it was not an easy question to answer as it required that I knew exactly what made me “gay.” Is it the fact that I am attracted to men? Is it that I act upon this attraction and have sex with men? If I am only attracted to men but do not act upon the attraction, does it make me “less gay?” The exercise raised more questions than answers. But the more questions I had to confront, the more I was convinced. I chose to be gay.

It was one summer night when I made the choice. I had just gone on a date as a “confused” teenager with another guy. I was 18. Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, I thought of the possible consequences of my actions. I thought about what it would take for me to choose that path. I thought of what to say to my family. And after sorting out my thoughts and my feelings, I was no longer confused. At that precise moment in my life, I had made a choice. I thought to myself, “Yes, I am gay. And yes, I’m gonna do this!” He eventually became my first boyfriend. It was a result of my choice.

I could have chosen a different path. I could have chosen to dump him and raise a heteronormative family. He would have become part of a “phase” that I “experimented” with. Perhaps the world might have never known about that lovely skeleton in my closet. I would, most likely, still be attracted to men, because that is one part of me that I didn’t choose. But other than that, I could be showing all signs of being straight, in all its manly glory. Would my “straightness” then be questioned because of my remaining attraction to men? This raises the question, “What makes you straight?” Attraction alone is definitely not what makes me gay. The totality of my being gay today is a result of innate traits and conscious choices I made along the way.

This could easily turn into a debate over definitions. And this debate will surely continue even after both camps reach a conclusion. I doubt that bigots will cease to be bigots if we find conclusive proof that Lady Gaga is right. Sure, some of us did not choose this. But so what if some of us did? If I choose to love another man and not a woman, what logical, rational, scientific explanation do you have to say that it is the wrong choice for me?

Again, this is my personal experience. It may not apply to other gay people out there. But for people like me, the discussion will no longer be about whether it was a choice or not. It will be about why the choice should not even be a topic of discussion.

Yes, I chose to be gay. And that should be okay!

This article first appeared here

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On Gay Labels and Gay Memories

“The mass of steel started to crawl away from the train station. The smell of rust was drowned out by a deafening noise that signaled our departure. I reached for the nearest handrail as the ground beneath me started to move. The whole cabin swayed to a rhythm that was random and measured at the same time. In between sobs, my heartbeat tried to catch up with this rhythm but it soon took its own cadence. I was three or four years old. It was a few years before the people power revolution. But all I cared about was where my mother was. And the man seated next to me, who claimed to be my grandfather, had promised that she would be waiting at the next stop.”

This is my earliest memory. I wrote it as part of a writing challenge I accepted for 2013. I have also secretly doubled up this challenge by seeing if I could consistently frame anything I wrote with an LGBT perspective. But my earliest memory does not have anything gay about it, unless I turn it into fiction and “gay it up.” I am, after all, a gay writer. I have also occasionally introduced myself as a gay activist. I am also a freethinker, a photographer, and a teacher. But I have never called myself a gay freethinker, a gay photographer, or a gay teacher.

So when is it appropriate to make something or someone ‘gay’ simply by adding the ‘G’ word? If you’re gay and you’re reading this, does it make you a gay reader? And as my partner (who happens to be gay, so perhaps I should say my gay partner) properly posited, should someone self-identify as a transgender in order to be a transactivist? And how about marriage? Why do some people reject the term gay marriage and prefer marriage equality?

Ascribing labels is a basic concept in identity politics and serves multiple functions. Minority groups use labels to claim an identity, or define an experience that would otherwise be assumed to belong to the majority. For example, we do not usually hear someone say “I am a straight statistician” as the heterosexual majority has made us assume that everyone is straight unless they say they are not. But one could be a gay statistician if one so chooses because it is his way of claiming an identity in a field dominated by straight men. Guy Branum, in his article “Yes, Nate Silver, You Are a Gay Statistician,” slams Silver for rejecting the word gay in his title. By dropping the word ‘gay’, Silver is attempting to detach his identity from his experience. It is as if calling himself a gay statistician would require him to use a pink computer and to “gay up” his calculations.

This same hesitation is shared by those who do not embrace the term gay marriage. According to detractors, if we follow this logic, we would have to append the word ‘gay’ to everything that is currently not accessible to gay people. We would have to fight for gay adoptiongay inheritancegay visitation rightsgay immigration, and so on. It would seem too obvious to point out that the labels matter less than the actual benefits and improvements to our lives.

This is where identity politics comes in conflict with political correctness. Political correctness is a hungry monster that devours unsuspecting words to sustain its relevance. It then spits out neutral labels that have been stripped of their rich history, political conviction, socio-cultural value, and ultimately, their original identity. And that, to me, is a pity.

Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that political correctness has its place in social discourse. In fact, for the sake of interpersonal relationships and political harmony, I will continue to use marriage equality and whatever other permutations. However, I will keep calling myself a gay writer. If I wear a rainbow shirt and use a fluffy pen when writing about gay characters, it would be of little to no consequence. What matters is that I am a passionate writer who also happens to be proud of his sexual orientation. And if I become successful, I would prefer to be remembered as a successful gay writer and not simply a successful writer. Perhaps, when the time comes, I would figure out how I can be a gay freethinker, a gay photographer, or a gay teacher. For now, I am happy being a gay writer.

The train behind me sped away taking with it all worries I had. In place of my mother, there he stood, the boy of my dreams.



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FF Podcast 009: How straight allies can fight for LGBT rights

FF Podcast Episode 9 – How straight allies can fight for LGBT rights
In our 9th episode, Red is joined by our LGBT advocacy group to talk about how straight allies can help in the fight for LGBT rights, especially this week, UP Pride Week.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Society, VideoComments (0)

In Defense of Miriam Quiambao

So former Bb. Pilipinas titlist Miriam Quiambao has been taking a lot of criticism from the pro-LGBT crowd for her anti-gay statements on a tv show and on her twitter. I regret that I too have tweeted some pretty angry messages about her regarding this issue. I should have taken my own advice about not tweeting when angry, because I now wish I could take back what I’ve written about wanting to take a shower after reading this Rappler article.

Miriam Quiambao (Photo taken from http://nudefilipina.blogspot.com .)

(Photo taken from http://nudefilipina.blogspot.com .)

Yes, Ms. Q has shown herself to be a homophobe. But it’s not her fault. Not really. Because she loves God — the one who says that the gay lifestyle is evil — and therefore she has to believe that homosexual behavior is immoral. She obviously doesn’t want to believe this — she says she loves the LGBT folks — but since her god tells her that gay sex is wrong, she clearly doesn’t have a choice. If a Christian saves a bunch of orphans from starvation, do we give them our gratitude for it? Of course not — you give thanks to the Chrisian God. Being a Christian, they didn’t have a choice but to save the orphans. In the same way, we can’t blame Ms. Q for her actions or her opinions. She was doing her duty. Like she said: don’t shoot her, she’s just the messenger.

This brings me to my second point: that getting angry at beauty queens for their opinions is silly. First of all, they’re not supposed to have opinions in the first place. At least not opinions of their own. Oh, I’m pretty sure a lot of of these contestants have their own views, values and opinions, and will stand up for them (I knew a lovely girl who once braved public derision in order to follow her heart, and years later she won the Bb. Pilipinas-International title). It’s just that they have to make it seem like these views come from somewhere that is acceptable, like their parents, their priests, and their gods. That’s why a lot of interview answers at pageants include disclaimers like “This is how my parents raised me”, “The bible says…” and “As a Christian, I was taught to believe…” After all, in this age of female doctors, female lawyers and female heads of state, beauty pageants are here to remind us all not just that a woman’s main role is to be decorative (that swimsuit competition is there so we can judge the size of her boobs, not her IQ) but also that she cannot have an opinion that goes against her society, her parents or her god. How many beauty pageant contestants do you know who espouse something really controversial like, say, insisting that women be not be paraded around like meat for entertainment purposes? Or that a person shouldn’t have to be skinny to be considered beautiful? Why, she’d be laughed off the stage. By taking absolutely no responsibility for her anti-gay views, Ms. Q has proven beyond doubt why she deserved to be crowned Bb. Pilipinas and declared first-runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant.

So yes, I apologize for my angry tweets. In my own defense, it was only because I have very strong opinions against people espousing prejudice and using religion as an excuse for their bigotry. Especially since I don’t agree with most religions and I’m not sure if the wars, witch burnings, child molestations and general oppression of women and gays that arise from them make religions worth having around. Furthermore, I absolutely claim these views as mine and am not blaming my parents or a deity for my views and opinions, but it just goes to show why (among many other reasons, including my unladylike fat hips) I, unlike Ms. Q, am not beauty queen material.

Tania N. Arpa blogs about being a geek in the city in The Entropy Blog. She is also on Twitter.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Religion, SocietyComments (9)

Kissing and Coming (Out of the Closet) with the Filipino Freethinkers

Wait! What’s this? FF RH Advocacy Director Kenneth Keng and FF President Red Tani sharing a tender kiss? After all those months of putting up a front, claiming -4 on the Kinsey Scale and trying very hard not to pat each others’ asses, they’re ending up in a Public Display of Affection? How could this be? What environment could have led them to shed their fears and just admit to their raw, pulsing brahmance?

Answer: The 29 Steps for LGBT Human Rights festival, which was held last July 2 at the Quezon Memorial Circle’s People’s Hall. Presented by the Lesbian Activism Project (LeAP!) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the event aimed to promote awareness of the Yogyakarta Principles—a set of principles on the application of international human rights laws on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.

There were film showings, musical performances, and several booths manned by pro-LGBT organizations, the Freethinkers included.

There was international human rights group Amnesty International Philippines, which recently voiced its support for the RH Bill

…the AIDS Society of the Philippines…

…STRAP, the fabulous Society of Transexual Women of the Philippines, and many other groups out to advocate gender equality and a prejudice-free society.

FF wanted a particularly interactive booth, and came up with the “Come Out for a Kiss or a Kiss” concept.

The idea was fairly simple: come out of a literal closet as absolutely anything you desire–gay, lesbian, straight, transgender, Belieber, atheist, hipster, human–and after being cheered on and getting your picture taken with your Coming Out Certificate, you have the choice between a chocolate kiss, or a kiss from one of the Freethinkers.

For instance, cheery Ging and Chris came out as Trans-Men…

…and got to kiss FF’s LGBT Advocacy Director Beatriz Torre!

Transgender beauty Magdalena came out as a Gender Non-Conformist…

…and got to kiss Kenneth. (As it turned out, Kenneth was a particularly popular choice, and would receive quite a few more kisses as the day went on.)

There were several participants who came out in pairs, like lovely lesbian couple Jam and Joey…

…bewitching singer Tao Aves and her partner AK, who came out as Mrs. Tao…

…and super-sexy sisters James and Angel from STRAP, who came out as Transexual Dyosas.

It was also great to have many participants from Deaf Rainbow Philippines (DRP), such as DRP’s President Bibo, who came out as a Beauty Queen…

…and Cutz, who came out as an Adventurer.

Suffice it to say that lot of people got very creative with their certificates. Aldrin, for instance, came out as a Freesexual.

While JM came out as Fabulous, Teng went for specificity and came out as an Ali-Top-Top!

Cy came out as a Bear Lover (as opposed to, say, an Otter or Twink Lover)…

…while Reighben came out as a Bottom Lover! The booth, it seemed, served an excellent secondary purpose as a Want Ad.

Not to be outdone, Pepe came out as a Delicious Treat to the crowd’s libidinous screeching.

Jack was very particular about his spelling of “Duqueza.”

UP Psych Prof Eric did away with the lengthy psych jargon and came out as a Gay Nerd.

Lia came out as a Gold-Star Lezzie, which she explained was a lesbian who has never had sex with a man. You learn something new everyday!

Jeiel came out as a Hipstersexual, which we can only assume entails obscure sexual acts in underground bunkers to the strains of a shoegaze band.

Babs came out as Human. ‘Nuff said.

Taking a break from sucking face with strangers, Kenneth came out as a Token Christian.

Sexy Lexi from all-girl rock group General Luna went for simplicity and came out as Bi-Sexual…

…as opposed to Ena Terol, the event’s official photographer, who went by the name Optimus Prime and came out as a Lezbatron.

The event’s co-host and singer Maegan Aguilar professed to being Bilingual in Sex…

…while Elmo fetishist MJ came out as Queer.

However, there was one particular “out-ing,” so to speak, that led these boys to show their unbridled enthusiasm. What, pray tell, could have made these boys so motherfreaking happy?

This, of course!

STRAP Founder Sass and her friend Santy came out as Lipstick Lesbians…and how! If that’s not coming out, I don’t know what is.

The moment was such fun, in fact, that Santy decided to go for a second round. This time she came out as a Nudist and, well, we don’t blame her.

All those sexy silhouettes aside, both the 29 Steps for LGBT Human Rights festival and our Coming Out booth were a definite success. It was very awesome to see everyone taking great pride in who they were, blind to their differences and working together for a Philippines free of bigotry. It was a great way to spend a Saturday.

I’ll leave you now with a chance photograph of the G-mik Barkada circa 2011. The Pajero in the background was paid for legally.

Did you come out of our booth and have your picture taken? Check out our FB photo album for your special shot! 

(Thanks to Garrick Bercero for the photos!)

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Did you just say that!?

lgbtI haven’t been to the past hearings and technical working groups for the anti-discrimination bill. All I know of them is that Rep. Abante (dist 6, Manila) and other conservatives told horrible, horrible lies and stereotypes about us gays. The usual stuff. These mean prudes claim that we’re intrinsically evil, and thus immoral, dangerous to children, destructive to families, yada yada yada. And that passing the bill would only empower us to destroy society itself! Of course they’re dead wrong. We are not intrinsically evil. They are just hateful, irrational, and mean people who are afraid of liberal change and the different.

Back then, this guy Abante was super strong and managed to shoot down the bill. Now, he still is, but not too strong to block its passing to the working group stage. I attended the very last of these working groups, sessions dedicated to deliberating what to change, add or remove from the draft anti-discrimination bill. This one went relatively calm, with brief but infuriating interludes from the resident Filipino and foreign catholic bigots. Previous ones were much more animated because Abante was there to be the loud and uber angry conservative congressman.

Last week’s enemies of liberty was the effeminate, maybe closet gay attorney from the CBCP and that white Republican spokesperson from ALFI—a person whom I think should be deported along with other foreign agents of bigoted beliefs. The police and the military reps were not enemies of liberty during the session. Sure, they were a bit homophobic, espoused a don’t ask, don’t tell-ish policy, but at least they overtly showed willingness to work on passing the bill with minimal changes. Very much unlike the bigots who were only there to make sure the bill gets severely weakened.

The guy from the CBCP said things becoming of an attorney for Catholic Bishops. Homosexuality is something internal, he says. But when someone acts on it, society will frown on it because of “conscientious objection”. That phrase right there can be restated as “objection based on religious grounds”. Opting to use the word conscientious makes it seem that their religious morality is the one true morality, thus making their decisions super right and everyone else wrong. From that belief, the Catholic Church thinks it has the right to be against this bill, code for “No way are we gonna let this pass! Cuz you know, we have faith that God hates gay sex”.

The gentle attorney also retardedly suggested that people and institutions be exempt from the punitive aspects of the bill if the discriminatory acts they did were committed in obeisance to religious beliefs. In obeisance to my beliefs, I rebutted that asinine statement saying that adding such clause to the bill would defeat the purpose of the bill itself. I made it very clear–like some bigshot, in front of that attorney, amidst the reps during the session itself–that the clause would enable people to circumvent justice, even after discriminating gays, as long as they say they did it out of their religion. That little performance earned me praise from none other than Risa herself. *clapping to myself, thankyoubow*

White American bigot, like many Republicans back in the US, was acti’n way evils. He said that passing the bill will: endanger children (because we’re more likely to be pedophiles – WTF!), promote public sex (this guy is insane) and criminalize human relations a. k a. being a practicing bigot. He said these f’d up things with such conviction that even the military and the police joined Risa, Jonas and me in taking this guy down a peg. Long story short, white bigot was a total loser in this session, even the police and military guys think he’s absurd.

I am of a disposition to assassinate guys like white bigot and Abante, because frankly, the world would be much better without them. But I shouldn’t. Because if I do pull it off, it might put gays in a worse light and muddle efforts for gay equality. Anyway, us libs came off that session as victors. It is a wonderful sign that the military and the police are cooperative in the further formulation of the bill. I just hope that they remain that way all throughout the process of passing it. Abante et al can be defeated as long as us libs gain stronger mass support. It’s because guys like him operate on the assumption that gays and their supporters are of such a small number that they can be pushed around. We libs, through more appeals to the masses, just have to prove him wrong. Or maybe we could just challenge them to a series of public debates and pwn their asses.

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