Living “normal” in a bigoted environment is a form of day-to-day torture, to pretend to not notice the curious glances and to disregard the gossips that cut deep. It is inevitably a road to negativity and frustrations as members of the third sex attempt to leapfrog over the drawn “lines in the sand” society has consigned for them.
Gender segregation is an emotionally loaded concern. There is a popular prejudice and a generalized contempt for the “queer” community. Those who had come on out into the sunlight were viewed with scorn as caricatures in their mascaraed eyes, wigwagging false eyelashes, layers of makeup, eagle-claw colored nails, high heels, and sequined gowns. They have, decidedly, turned all the conventions upside down.
Rejection and ridicule are long-standing themes in a queer’s life. Society in general had been on the loose in showering members of the third sex with derision and contempt.
It’s a brave act to be who they really are and be able to speak their piece about their culture, and to be able to exercise their legal rights, albeit in the very limited degree of tolerance from society. It is also about being able to enjoy the basic stuff of life, such as loving one person and being loved in return without feeling like thieves in the night.
Several gay rights movements have helped bring about a major shift where the right-wing “valuecrats”/liberal popular culturists split somehow loosened up the boundaries at a point where mutual understanding became the ethos around the world so that the recent views expressed by “It’s all a matter of taste” replaced old norms in morality as well as etiquette.
It was a tipping of society’s scales to that level where the underclass grew under a collaborative commitment to give their similar feelings one unitary voice. There were several protests and marches directed at suppressing instances of rebuff and discrimination in the workplace, in particular, or of whatever act that generates manifestations of gender-related ostracism.
The San Francisco Pride Parade on Market Street is an annual continuing protest as well as celebration of the gay community worldwide intended as an expression of their imagination, creativity, and connection.
The Gay Liberation Front in Los Angeles, California pioneered the movement. It offered mental health and related services to the LGBT community at its Los Angeles LGBT Center. The first magazine for lesbians was published by Edythe Eyde a.k.a. Lisa Ben in 1947.
The first active protest of the gay movement was also in Los Angeles, 10 years preceding the trailblazing Stonewall riots in New York City on June 28, 1969. The Stonewall riot was the incident that became the trumpet call for the gay rights movement.
The city of New York refused to issue licenses to bars that catered to gays, drag queens, and black gays. The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Greenwich Village, was raided by the police after a group, when told to disperse, would not move away. Transgender Marsha Johnson threw the first brick at the police barricade that started the riotous demonstration releasing the gay community’s repressed personal conflicts and disaffinities.
The times have brought some changes even if the physical appearance has not. Some tags associated with gay people—bakla, bading, tibo, paminta, badette, butch, alfa, billy boy—are now barely used as derogatory addresses. Gays and lesbians are generally tolerated although some opaque discriminations still remain.
An incident involving Jennifer Laude, a transgender, found dead in a motel room in Olongapo City, was killed in “self-defense” by US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton when he realized Laude was a man. In Lucena City, 55-year-old Mary Jo Añonuevo, also a transgender, was stabbed 33 times inside the bar she owned.
The LGBT Rights Bill, also called the SOGIE Bill (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality) which was approved on September 20, 2017 as House Bill 4982 prohibits and penalizes any discriminatory act against LGBT people.
In the 2007 general election, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) disqualified Ladlad, the political party for gay concerns. The Supreme Court, however, overturned the COMELEC decision and allowed Ladlad to participate in the May 2010 elections.
It is noteworthy that Geraldine Roman became the first transgender to be elected to the Philippine Congress. Corollary to this, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California with a seat at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
On the downside, the Catholic Church still disallows same-sex marriages despite some proposals to legislate it have been attempted.
Whatever prejudgment society may have stigmatized the gay community with, the heavy-handed catcalls and repressive social norms have dampened, enabling them to work with what they have and grapple with the more usable potentialities in their lives without fear of rejection and without the caricature labelling.
Do these names sound familiar? Andy Warhol, Oscar Wilde, Michelangelo, Tchaikovsky, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Gianni Versace, Tennessee Williams, Caitlyn Jenner, Chaz Bono, Jake Zyrus, Paolo Ballesteros, Ice Seguerra, Vice Ganda, Mark Bautista, Arnell Ignacio. The list is long.
Photos by Diana B. Noche
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