Thursday, April 1, 2010

Coming out

Few days before the entire Christianity will reflect on Jesus Christ passion and resurrection, Ricky Martin, a native of deeply Catholic Mexico, confirmed the long time rumor that he is gay. The world did not lose a nanosecond of standstill. It was a confirmation of a decade-old gossip that he is, in fact, a proud homosexual.

Ah, rumor. Such is a lousy business.

Carefully crafted with full of honesty, he divulged in his website: "Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment. These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed ... I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am."

I don’t know if the acceptance is part of a series of press releases for his memoirs to be published soon to gain popular followers and earned tremendous profit in the process. Whatever the objective of his “coming-out”, it was a testament of bravery and honesty. To move on and be happy, one should sincerely and honestly accept the pain of believing in oneself. Not necessarily to the extent of letting other people salivate on it. Giving in to their pressures, is giving in to their wishes and gender discrimination deepens. It adds salt to the already wounded heart and soul.

Saying that her questioning may have ended his career, Barbara Walters interviewed Ricky Martin almost a decade ago and regretted trying to force (or coerced?) Martin to open up about his sexuality. A month ago, she said: "In 2000, I pushed Ricky Martin very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was," she told The Toronto Star. "A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now, I feel it was an inappropriate question."

And, perhaps in a sighed of disbelief, Walters tells him, "You know, you could stop these rumors. You could say, as many artists have, 'Yes I am gay,' or you could say, 'No I'm not,' or you could leave it, as you are, ambiguous. I don't want to put you on the spot, but it's in your power to do it."

Adel Tamano, a Filipino Muslim and candidate for senator was asked by my favorite anchorwoman about his sexuality. Live on television, my favorite anchorwoman cross-examined the poor Adel like a guilty suspect of a crime he never dreamed of committing, and politely he answered about the gender inquest. The anchorwoman should heed Barbara Walters regretting what she did to Martin.

I doubt if the anchorwoman will do the same thing to Noynoy, a candidate for president, given the fact that Adel is happily married while Noynoy is still a bachelor in his waning years. I haven’t heard anyone suspect Noynoy’s gender orientation just because he doesn’t look like one? It adds discrimination by means of one’s appearance. You don’t appear like one, you are not gay. You appear like one, even if you are not, you are a poor boy.

Typical of being honest, Ricky Martin or Adel Tamano could have asked those who interviewed them if they really are heterosexuals. But they did not. Such is a gift of human kindness and respect towards other people anchored on the basis that we are all one and the same. Equal.

In fact, if they are not cross-examined in public interviews, they are being portrayed as hapless human beings capable of entertaining the crowd in movies and television. What a poor way of self-preservation!

I know for a fact that even discreet individuals are proud of who they are. Who aren’t? Let’s take it from them and let us leave it that way. That is the kind of existence they wish to enjoy and that is the kind of respect they deserved. As long as they did not cross the thin red-line of human-to-human exploitation in all its forms then by all means embrace them like a new born child, incapable of inflicting wounds against anyone.

But the respect that should be showered (accorded is quite masculine, I might as well use the word ‘showered’) to them should be observed. For no one, not even one-self, can force himself/herself to believe that he/she is not, well, a heterosexual or a homosexual.

But the world that we are in is deeply feudal and macho that anything outside of it is exploited.

Gender and sexuality marginalization, discrimination and isolation in whatever form will continue as long as the fundamental and basic unit of its existence will prevail in our day to day life. In order for us to confront gender and sexual discrimination objectively, it is correct to fight gender discrimination on the basis of deeply rooted economic liberation hand in hand with other oppressed and exploited sectors and classes. For it will not only liberate an individual from the clutches of economic slavery, it will provide an all round cultural and political advancement and acceptance. Without that, no homosexual can claim to be happy in this world, save perhaps the likes of Ricky Martin.

Western academics call it heteronormativity or the superiority of heterosexuals against any other gender. It actually stigmatizes other forms of gender and sexuality as deviants and consequently confirms that self-expression is dangerous as long as it does not conform to the so-called ‘norm’. Thus it is utterly dangerous like ideological, political, race, religion, physical or even age discrimination.

But a heterosexual man or woman cannot claim to be superior on the basis of his gender or sexual orientation alone. Political and economic power moved the heterosexual man or woman to be supremely powerful and dangerous over all other heterosexuals and homosexuals.

On the other hand, I do not find it appropriate for one to divulge his gender orientation whether in public or privately not because there are heteronormative out there but because it vibrates indiscriminately to the already subjective society. For doing so is accepting the pressures of a biased society to give in to their wishes, pin down someone and isolate him/her in the process.

Is it really acceptance that we want while forcing someone to admit?

The current socio-economic and cultural set-up prohibits someone to divulge his/her gender orientation. For coming out, the brave ones are further discriminated. Such is the case even within the gay community or now aptly called the sexual minorities. You are only ‘in’ if you are discreet or scandalously straight acting. With that, I give honor to the effeminate, the transvestites, the transgenders and the newly formed group called baklita for they are the tsunamis in the eye of the storm.

Before you look at someone, or before that someone look at to him/herself as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, labyboy, queer, nilatch, paminta, bayot, baklita or whatever term coined in the process of gender isolation and discrimination, we must look at them, and they must look at themselves as human beings first and foremost. For no major consideration can guarantee gender isolation by looking at someone as your own image and likeness. The good Lord has a word for it: He created us in His own image and likeness. Others who studied God’s gospel consciously overlook a simple message.

We are all equal on the basis of our existence we can’t go any deeper than that.

Needless to say, economic, political and social considerations matters deeply on gender and sexuality question. For a poor homosexual is totally different from a rich one. Take it from Ricky Martin’s words, “I am a fortunate homosexual.” His economic and social status defines it and takes cue and shape from it. His stature in the world stage as gay musician will never be diminished because he has wealth to defend it and has status to prolong it – and influence us.

And such wealth and status will prohibit others to minutely alter his new found moment.

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