Over the last few months, the widespread acceptance and awareness among Philippine audiences of the plight and lives of gay people have visibly changed. Whereas gay characters were contained in stereotype a few years back, now we are presented with a variety of characters whose lives may not be very different from a family member or that gay couple that live across your house. Good people mind you, that go on about their daily lives as any heterosexual person; many of them as Catholic as 80% of this country’s citizenry.
Enters My Husband’s Lover – a progressive story of a gay man who succumbs to fear of having his sexuality discovered and cloaks it by marrying a woman and having children with her. It is a story that breaks the stereotypical portrayal of a gay man as effeminate, loud and flamboyant, or if he happens to be discreet, has the tendency to bend like seaweed at the sight of an attractive, straight guy. Here we see actual gay men that exist in growing numbers in society today – handsome, well-bred, successful and intelligent. These men act just like any straight guy and excel in their respective fields. These are men that any person would dream of having; role models that any kid can aspire to be when they grow up.
This representation is unacceptable to the CBCP. In a statement aired on Radyo Veritas, Fr. Kunegundo Garganta, Executive Secretary of the CBCP Commission on Youth said that shows like My Husband’s Lover should consider that we are in a country that gives importance to morality. He also said that guidelines should be set for shows that are being being watched by today’s youth.
Of course, we are not going to pretend that he is referring to the plot about infidelity as this is a staple in several other telenovelas and they have not aired their disapproval about those other shows. So we are left with two things: 1. the homosexual theme of the story and 2. the possible route that leads to individuality and standing up for who you really are no matter how scary and no matter how the bigoted society reacts.
Now, this show is rated SPG (Strong Parental Guidance) and screens late at night when little children should already be asleep. For other kids that are old enough to be aware of the concept of having a crush, I think with proper guidance, this is a good time to explain to them that there are gay men and women who cannot live with themselves and live a lie in order to be accepted – all in an effort to conform to the Fr. Gargantas and the CBCPs of this world. They have to know that being moral is not measured by whether you are gay or straight but by the good that you do.
At a time when first world nations have infused awareness in just about anything that you see on television and on the web, the churches are losing their hold on the “educated” citizenry; more-so, the battle on equality in several countries, in what I can only imagine to be an alarming rate.
In a developing country like ours, the CBCP thrives in using eternal damnation as a scare tactic for the ill-informed, even telling people that our culture should be different from those of foreign countries that have embraced equality and fairness as a doctrine. For a mentality that promotes hatred and intolerance in the name of God, a show like My Husband’s Lover can be quite a threat as it reaches out to the very masses that the church holds dominion over. It gives them access to a reality that most of us already know. It presents another face of normalcy, where the only immoral act is bigotry.