I recently drew a piece with a rainbow and a quote from Ginger Minj about how straight people should be grateful they don't need a pride parade, and when I posted it on Instagram I made sure to ask my gay best friend if the caption I wrote was okay, because I didn’t want the post to be about me. He told me it looked good, and that he loved that I am a self-aware and considerate ally. That gave me the confidence to write this, though to be honest, I continue to question whether or not I’m making sense and worry I might offend the very community I wish to support.
Shortly after posting it, someone commented saying it was the dumbest thing they've ever read. When I read it, I felt a split-second twinge. It was quick and hot, like a tiny balloon of anger popped inside me. My instinct told me to fight and reply with the wittiest comeback I could think of, but I thought, no. Leave it alone and leave it there. No deleting the rude comment because it says more about the person who wrote it than me or what Ginger said.
But at the same time, I thought, wow, I merely expressed support for the LGBTQIA+ community and someone was offended and felt the need to leave a rude comment on a stranger's Instagram. How much worse could I face if I were a member of the community?
We all know the answer to that, of course. Much, much worse. It's so bad that some people choose to never come out of the closet and lead double lives, just to keep themselves safe.
And it's not like I don't know what it's like to scorn people who aren't straight. I'm a cisgender heterosexual woman, after all, who grew up Catholic in a pretty conservative household, and went to a Catholic school for seven years in the Philippines. Gay people are different. They're not normal, some would say. When a gay man is handsome, he is pitied. "Kawawa naman, gwapo pa sana kaya lang bakla," as if he contracted some incurable disease.
But as I grew older, I learned better. In UP, in the call centers and educational institutions I worked at, and most importantly, from the people in my life who themselves are LGBTQIA+, many of whom are my closest and dearest friends, whom I consider my lifeline.
It's 2019 and yet millions of people still find it impossible to accept and understand that people don't choose to be LGBTQIA+, that they just are, like how we self-righteous heterosexuals are straight. We don't need a pride parade. We've been persecuting people for ages simply because they are not like us. We have blood on our hands.
June is pride month. If you still, for whatever reason, cannot accept people who are lesbian, gay, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual, non-binary, pansexual, just shut up. Please. The kindest thing you can do is to not contribute to the hate, that is if you really cannot muster the courage and the humility to listen, learn, understand, and, accept. Be glad you don’t need to be brave to be straight, because the world’s acceptance of you is automatic. Others do not get to enjoy that same luxury.
But if you do eventually find the courage to question your beliefs, to ask and to listen to the stories of the members of the community in hopes of gaining a greater understanding of their struggles, their battles, their lives, thank you. It all boils down to our fear of the unknown: what we don’t know and understand scares us, and the best way to eradicate fear is to seek enlightenment. The internet is teeming with resources on the subject; use it to educate yourself. If you have questions the internet cannot answer, ask your friends and family who are members of the community. Most of us may not get to change the world, but we can at least take small steps to making it a little better, a little kinder.