In May 2011, Jamey Rodemeyer of Buffalo New York posted an optimistic video for the “It Gets Better” project that tells gay people to endure bullying and bigotry because things do get better as you eventually meet open minded people that know that being gay is not a disease nor a conscious choice that you can opt out of.
On September 18 of the same year, he took his own life due to incessant taunting and bullying. “People would just keep sending me hate, telling me that gay people go to hell,” he said in the recording, which was posted to YouTube.
In Formspring where comments can be left anonymously, abusive messages were left whenever he would post about his unhappiness. “Jamie is stupid, fat, gay and ugly. He must die!,” one post said. Another read, “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it. It would make everyone WAY more happier!”
In a previous post I mentioned that in our own country, the word bakla (gay) is used as an expletive along with tarantado (jerk) and putang ina mo (son of a bitch) even among very young children. In the media, local actors who are rumored to be gay get judged for not coming out of the closet but as encouragement to come out, they are being ridiculed. Celebrities that have had the courage to admit who they are like Aiza Seguerra has been labeled immoral and has been subject to verbal lynching, not only by devout followers of the church, but by co-celebrities that are being looked up to by the masses like Willie Revillame.
Of course in the United States, with the increasing number of awareness campaigns and the public support of the government to stop discrimination, bigots, with the exception of kids and uneducated folks that do not know better, normally turn to posting anonymously. Here in the Philippines, even members of the clergy and the media proudly announce their ignorance and hate on national television and on the web.
In televised debates about the Reproductive Health bill, the church always points out that RH must be rejected because it will lead to the legalization of abortion and gay marriage. Now it doesn’t take a genius to realize that there is something wrong with the moral compass of a mostly catholic nation when a deplorable act such as abortion is being equated to a basic human right that has got nothing to do with faith but with legal rights (i.e. tax exemption, computation and redefinition of conjugal properties etc) anyway.
Bigoted members of the media have also proudly taken their bigoted views public. In 2009, Mon Tulfo (TV5, Philippine Daily Inquirer) announced that “Gay people should be happy that society tolerates them. They should not abuse society’s doting attitude towards them.” “…they (gay people) should not also go around town proclaiming their preferences as if it was a badge of honor,” he added.
Recently, Anthony Taberna (ABS-CBN) made this statement following the shooting incident involving two gay minors at SM Pampanga.
“May mga nagsasabi din sa atin…kung bakit ang bata ay humahantong sa ganito kaagang gulang ay nabibilad na po sa pakikipagkaibigan o umiibig sa kapwa lalaki lalo’t ito’y bading pala, o nabubuo na yung ganong pagkatao niya. Eh meron pong nagsabi na mga taga telebisyon din ang may kasalanan niyan eh. Ang media daw ang may kasalanan dahil pagbukas mo pa lang ng telebisyon eh puro kami na nakikita niyo. Ibig sabihin, puro -pasensya na po sa termino- puro kabaklaan na raw po nakikita. Pag bukas mo ng telebisyon, pagbukas mo ng online – ng social networking, pinapahintulutan at tinatanggap na ng publiko…so siguro puede rin na…wake up call din po ito. Hindi po para siilin ang karapatan ng mga nasa third sex na magagaling naman talaga pagdating sa mga performance at iba pa. Pero mukhang na-e-engangyo po ang marami na maaga pa ay i-flaunt na yung kanila pong kabaklaan.”
(“I have been told that the reason that (male) children this young are already exposed to making friends with or being in love with other (male) children is…it is also the fault of TV. They say it is also the fault of media because the moment you turn on the TV, -sorry for the term- all you see are gay things. When you turn on the TV, when you log on to online – social networking, it (homosexuality) is allowed and accepted by the public. So perhaps this is a wake up call. I don’t mean to take away the rights of the third sex, who are also good when it comes to performances and other things. But it seems a lot are encouraged to flaunt their gayness at a very early age.”)
Statements like this while often dismissed as merely insensitive opinions of old fashioned men become fuel to an already ignorant citizenry. When tolerated, this sends a message that you cannot be who you are because it is wrong; You can change who you are because being gay is immoral; Or the timeless argument of the church, you can be gay but doing gay acts is wrong and will lead you to hell.
I believe that this is the same belief system that fueled the kids and haters that bullied Jamey Rodemeyer. These haters are the people that you see every Sunday in church. These haters are the ignorant celebrities like Willie Revillame, Mon Tulfo and Anthony Taberna. Of course they would say, they would never intend for any kid to kill themselves because of their opinion, but it is these kinds of opinions and untruths that break down the humanity of people who have yet to come to terms to who they are. These are men that should not be tolerated by society. Let us not wait for a Pinoy version of Jamey Rodemeyer. Let us educate and work for a future where things really do get better and where bigotry is just a bad appendage that the citizenry has evolved out of.