Live and let love

“It’s always easier to organize around intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia” – Barack Obama

I was surprised by the silence of the LGBT community over the statement of Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (CBCP-ECFL), regarding singer Charice Pempengco’s admission that she is a lesbian.

Fr. Castro said, “In this time of her life that she is experiencing an identity crisis regarding her sexual orientation, we would rather not pre-judge her…. Let’s hope that there will be people out there that will help guide her with her sexual orientation called same-sex attraction…We should help her journey with this same-sex attraction situation so that she will know that having a same-sex attraction does not mean that she has to engage in a [homosexual] relationship…. This, I think, is where her family and friends should come in and intervene to help her.”

That is prejudice dressed in pseudo-clinical jargon. Fr. Castro’s remarks can be excused if he had clarified that his comment on Charice’s sexuality was based on the teachings of his church. But he did not. Instead he diagnosed her clinically, as someone suffering from an identity crisis because of her sexual orientation and prescribed intervention as the cure for a malady that makes her want to engage in female to female sex.

Can Fr. Castro prove that sexuality is a choice rather than in-born? Besides, why does it matter if sexuality is in-born or a matter of choice? Outside of religious beliefs and ignorance, can one say that one form of sexuality is superior to another and that one is wrong and the other right? Why is sexuality even an issue in a pluralistic democracy? I’m at a loss as to why Fr. Castro felt impelled to comment negatively on Charice’s sexuality. Was he afraid that an epidemic of lesbianism will follow in the wake of Charice’s admission?

My online encyclopedia says “Heterosexism is a system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior.”

Heterosexism leads to non-heterosexuals being regarded as second class citizens who deserve to be deprived of “various legal and civil rights, economic opportunities, and social equality.”

Fellow columnist Marie Yuviengco pointed that out in her essay, Marriage Pinoy-style. She cited legislated discrimination against non-heterosexuals. What kind of society would enact laws that legalize and legitimize discrimination? Ms. Yuviengco urged Charice to “campaign for the changes that have been so long overdue.” Rightly so.

In this country, the wall separating Church and State is porous, laws that are based on religion-specific values are enforced on both believers and non-believers alike. We are not the only democracy struggling with this problem. US president Barack Obama’s speech explaining his personal position on abortion and the role of the religiously motivated in a pluralistic democracy showed that America is also in the same bind.

“Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible,” he said. Obama’s insight also applies to the religion-specific opposition to same-sex marriage, divorce, and the RH Law.

Charice knew her sexuality at age five but she was forced to hide it until she was 21. She was locked up in a closet for 16 years! There are many Charices out there who are also locked up, unable to live and love freely, because of the intolerance and narrow-mindedness of our society. Fr. Castro encourages that mentality and in so doing fuels and perpetuates the prejudice and discrimination – the injustice – that non-heterosexuals have to suffer. Where is the outrage?

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • There you go, quoting my idol and Main Man, Barak Obama, one of the sharpest, most pragmatic and honorable dudes the U.S. has ever been honored to call Mr. President. That half of America disagrees illustrates how difficult it will be in the Philippines to get closed minds opened with regard to gays and lesbians. The one thing I disagree with is that Charice should campaign for LGBT rights. I’d prefer that she just sing, for, as we should stay out of her bedroom, she should keep her bedroom out of our living room. Leave the politics and the social teachings to the politicians and teachers. Charice should simply stand up as a dignified role model of a sexually independent woman who can really rip a good tune. Someone who neither needs others for validation, nor needs to impose her beliefs on others.

    That, after all, is the essence of non-discrimination. Live and let live.

    • GabbyBD

      what lgbt rights should she campaign over? marriage?

      • I dunno. Or the right to be sexually whatever she wants without judgment. That’s why I say just BE that way and don’t push it, otherwise she becomes just like heterosexuals pushing their sexual agenda.

        • GabbyBD

          joe, there is no right to be without judgement. its impossible.

          • I don’t know where I said that. My point is that Charice is a singer and ought to sing, not go on a crusade for LGBT open-mindedness. One either accepts sexuality of others, in any form, or becomes an advocate for one style or another. If we are truly an enlightened society, none of us has to advocate or justify our sexuality, or instruct another person on theirs. It’s an ideal, an aspiration, probably an impossibility. But its the one I choose to live by. It’s nobody’s business what I do in my bedroom, and I have no interest in what Charice does in hers.

          • GabbyBD

            oh, u said that she shouldnt campaign. i get it, sorri.

          • manuelbuencamino

            Joe,

            One cannot simply accept the bigotry of others. Bigotry is fuelled by the sense of powerlessness by the objects of their prejudice. The only way to defeat bigotry is to stand up to it. You may not be able to change what people think but you can certainly change the way they treat you. Charice and other influential personalities can give a sense of power to those who don’t have it. Heterosexism ain’t no different from racism. Racism is based on the color of a man’s skin while heterosexism is based on the color of a man’s lipstick. Everybody has a duty to speak out against that kind of intolerance and narrow-mindedness by eradicating the ignorance.

          • manuelbuencamino

            She doesn’t have to campaign for acceptance, she can campaign for a regime where non-heterosexuals enjoy the same rights, opportunities, and privileges that everybody enjoys.

          • And (my opinion only) she can do that best the way Ellen DeGeneres does it, performing in the light of day where everyone understands but it makes no difference. She just lives a healthy, visible professional life and makes her statement that way. No hiding. No preaching.

          • manuelbuencamino

            Well why should be a passive influence against discrimination when she can be pro-active? Should Muhammad Ali remained as Cassius Clay?

          • Well, I believe in free speech, for sure, and agree there is a lot of intolerance that could stand to be corrected. I mean, just look at American Republicans, for instance . . . But I find it hard to agree to mixing professionalism and personal choice, if we indeed want our personal choice to be private. How can you be both private and public? If Charice chooses to advocate for gay rights, that is up to her. But, as I click the dial off when I see Michael Moore’s mug appear, so will I skip past the Charice CD’s on my i-Tunes shopping list. I want to hear her sing. Period. Just as I detest “The Buzz” for its smarmy schmoozing for stars . . .

          • manuelbuencamino

            Joe,

            So you are against black athletes and entertainers speaking out against discrimination? No one is asking Charice to advocate homosexuality, she is being asked to speak out against discrimination and laws that uphold such practices.

    • UPnnGrd

      JoeAm: Have you noticed that Dick Cheney has been quiet in past months? I’m surprised Dick Cheney is not cheering!

      The next Republican president of USA will be very grateful to Barack Obama having chopped down big-time this notion of privacy of telephone calls. “In the name of national security!!!”, Presi-Obama sez… and a wall of civil liberties —- the privacy of telephone calls — USA’s Dept of Homeland Security under PrezObama’s leadership has breached.

  • GabbyBD

    ” second class citizens who deserve to be deprived of “various legal and civil rights, economic opportunities, and social equality.””

    really? like what? other than marriage, of course.

    • manuelbuencamino

      How about discrimination deprives them of some economic opportunities and full social equality?

      • GabbyBD

        what discrimination? can we be specific? like are there jobs where being gay is prohibited?

        usually wages/salary are an indicator of discrimination for large population groups. u dont mean salary differences, right?

        • manuelbuencamino

          Okay, openly gay people in the military, police force, elementary schools, and other professions where heterosexuals are preferred.

          • GabbyBD

            do u mean to tell me that there are no openly gay teachers?

            second, ive never heard any gay people advocate being openly gay in the miltary and police. is this a real thing?

          • manuelbuencamino

            Gabby,

            Let’s stop playing games. You know there is discrimination and prejudice against gays. We’re beyond trying to prove it. The question you should ask, the more productive discussion thread you ought to pursue is how you can help to end the discrimination. Any other conversational thread is just you asking to be jerked off.

          • GabbyBD

            who’s playing games?

            i dont’ know that there is discrimination. i cannot point to ANY example where a homosexual was denied a job BECAUSE of his/her sexuality. as in NONE.

            i also have not heard any gay advocates say they want to to in the military. hell, even the central gay issue in the west, marriage, isnt something i’ve seen people advocate, or desire.

            also, “jerked off”? can we be grownups? the word is “masturbate” (joke)

          • manuel buencamino

            1. “i also have not heard any gay advocates say they want to to in the military”

            I lifted the following sketch from Paul Krassner’s blog. Enjoy.

            In my capacity as a stand-up satirist, I used to conduct an imaginary dialogue with Powell.

            “General Powell, you’re the first African-American to be head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and you come from the tradition of a military family. So you know that blacks were once segregated in the Army because the other soldiers might feel uncomfortable if blacks slept in the same barracks. And now that’s what they say about gays, that other soldiers might feel uncomfortable about gays sleeping in the same barracks.”

            “Well, you have to understand, we never told anybody we were black.”

            2. “hell, even the central gay issue in the west, marriage, isnt something i’ve seen people advocate, or desire.”

            I thought I mentioned Marie Yuviengco’s “Marriage Pinoy-style” in my article.

            3. I’m a heterosexual who supports same -sex marriage. Gays are entitled to all the rights that straights enjoy.

            “Gay people getting married will redefine marriage….as much as black people eating with white people redefined eating.”

          • GabbyBD

            huh? i meant (of course) the philippine military.

            also, yuvienco’s article doesnt really tell us if pinoy gays/lesbians desire marriage.

            thats it? discriminated na?

            on the other side, i know alot of gay men who are living lives, having careers, etc.

            at some point, they will want marriage. at this time, wala pa.

          • manuel buencamino

            You are in denial my friend.

          • GabbyBD

            thats it? no counter argument?

            i thought u actual reasons behind this blog post. i was asking what they were.