Sunday Essays: Open Closet

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

TWO hundred years of Spanish colonization, and what do you get? A religious and patriarchal society called the Philippines.

Wonder-child Charice Pempengco could even attest to this.

Charice was once the source of pride of the Philippines as she became an international star. She was known to be the little girl with a big voice. And there even came a time that she was almost everywhere. She was on Oprah’s show, on Ellen’s show, on top of the billboard charts, and she even starred on the hit television show Glee.

However, when she admitted that she was a lesbian, the whole game changed.

Many of her fans turned away from her, and even her own mother scorned her.

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) even issued a statement saying that Charice’s homosexuality was not yet terminal. As if to say that being a homosexual was like having a disease such as cancer.

This evidently showed how much the Catholic or Christian viewpoint influenced the society’s way of thinking.

That is why many of the people whose gender preference is neither boy nor girl, like Charice, prefer to be in their closets. Some only come out in a certain time with the certain people, while others don’t come out at all.

Many are afraid of what their family, friends, and church might think and do about if they come out.

However, when Pope Francis openly discussed his view on homosexuality many thought twice about their previous ideas on the issue.

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis said in an interview in Brazil.

This shocked everyone especially fundamentalists and many Catholic communities such as in Africa which are strongly anti-homosexuality.

While this statement brought question to many, it also gave hope to the LGBT (Lesbians-Gays-Bisexuals-Transgenders) groups all over the world especially in a highly Catholic country like the Philippines.

On top of that, the Philippines has also recognized the Ang Ladlad Party as an official political party that represents the LGBT community in the Philippines.

Television shows have also created programs that put the LGBT community in the limelight such as GMA’s “My Husband’s Lover”, Eat Bulaga’s “Super Sireyna”, and Showtime’s “That’s My Tomboy”. There was also the song “Sirena” by Gloc9 that aimed to empower gays. Even one of the most popular and high-paid stars, Vice Ganda, is gay.

This only means that the Philippine society became more aware of the community.

With these shows, the society has seen them in a different light far from tradition and religion. And the LGBT community knows it.

“At least now they know we’re out there, that we dream of the same things, strive for the same ambitions, and feel the same feels. Who knows?” A.C Martin, a blogger and an admitted lesbian said.

Although it may still be a tall order for the Philippine society so fully accept the LGBT community, but surely it is taking big strides to get there.

With the advancements that the society and the Pope have initiated it is the good time for closet gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to come out and not take a full bashing like they would have two years back.

As for Charice, many international personalities like David Pomeranz and some local stars have already accepted and backed her up. With this, who knows? Maybe the Filipinos would welcome her with open arms also and shout to the whole world saying, “That’s our tomboy!” (Eanna Marie Fernandez)

*****

Sunday Essays are articles written by students of Ateneo de Davao University for their journalism class.

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