02135: About Manny Pacquaio's Stance on Same-Sex Marriage

So after boxer, congressman, pastor, basketball coach, singer and senate candidate Manny Pacquiao compared the LGBT community to animals in an effort to explain why he is against same-sex marriage, he has since backtracked and issued a formal apology although other celebrities and politicians are still riding the media wave to get their two cents in. It's not pretty.

It's not easy being LGBT, period. And despite claims that the Philippines is LGBT-friendly, moments like this just remind us that we're not really accepted and we're really just tolerated. The only thing that makes the country "friendly" to us is that it's not illegal to be LGBT or to engage in related sexual acts. So that's not much of a measure for things, especially given the lack of legal protections for LGBT individuals against discrimination and other situations.

The backlash against Pacquiao's statements is not about religion. The generic defense of "I'm only quoting the Bible" is terribly lame and not even applicable in this situation. If we get down to it, the bible does not literally say that two men or two women should not get married. But of course there are human interpretations of the Bible and other religious texts that have been stretched and twisted to somehow come to this conclusion. And for a public servant and aspiring senator to use such coarse language as part of his election campaign is irresponsible and even dangerous.

Moments like this remind us how much the LGBT community in the Philippines still needs to fight against casual homophobia like this. The fact that people can say such terrible things about a significant number of people and somehow backpedal to claim that they mean no offense but still don't believe we deserve equal rights is bad enough. Add the fact that many other people have rallied in support of influence leaders like Pacquiao to say he did nothing wrong and that the Bible does in fact says everything he claims it does shows us how far we have to go.

It's great that people are taking to social media to speak up against what is more than an insult but is if anything a condemnation of the entire LGBT community to a sub-human level of existence. But we also need to be mindful of those everyday situations when co-workers, classmates and even family members fall into the trap of speaking with homophobic themes at heart. The big news moments like this are important, yes, but the little ones are equally important. Society's view of the LGBT community will not change immediately because someone like Pacquiao had to issue a public apology. It changes at a person by person level as we as individuals stand up for ourselves and remind those around us that we won't stand for such casual homophobia, which is really casual hate speech condoned by a minority trying to suppress a minority.

You can't say you're not against LGBT people when you actively campaign against their rights to be free from discrimination and their right to have he law recognize their relationships as marriages. You cannot claim to be a friend to LGBT people you know when you judge them from afar and use vague religious language to claim your LGBT friends are doomed to be condemned to some Christian Hell. We don't need friends like that.

We have a long way to go. Moments like this should not dishearten us or send us back into the closet. These are opportunities for us to be strong and to stand united as a community to stand up for what we believe in and to demand for what we deserve.