When two boys hold hands
You see them casually on the street, or in your school, or in the mall. It's still a fairly uncommon sight so you must elbow your friend or take a closer look, and steal a glance at these two boys who are breaking the natural order in your eyes.
You even look at their hands, big joints, strong fingers, thick wrists and big watches. How can they stand to hold another man's hand? You think it's gross, you wonder why they couldn't get girls instead. You see their proud, clean faces and think, "Sayang, ang guwapo pa naman.” (Too bad when they're so handsome.)
Almost immediately you feel a sense of loss. For losing one more able man in society, a source of sperm, or a viable penis in your life. As if he'd ever go for you, as if he's ever considered your kind, or felt propagation of the species was more important than being true to one's heart.
Just pieces of meat
By instinct you picture anal sex, because that's all they are to you. You've reduced these boys to all the dirty jokes you know, all the insults you've hurled and heard, all in the form of what you call humor.
You think it's so disgusting that these people dare to use their "mismatched" parts together. It's so gross that you can't stop thinking of the blow jobs they give each other, calling it unnatural and less genuine than "real sex," because they enjoy the kind of pleasure you find so appalling that your fantasies must force these strangers to live it.
You don't even know them but you think you do. You've assessed, based on a 5-second once-over, who is bottom and who is top, which one was so desperate for love he had to turn gay, which one is more girly based on their clothes or manner of speech, and which one was just influenced (or paid), being the “real” man.
You don't even know them but you've already imagined one bent over and receiving the other. You've already made a joke about rectal emergencies in hospitals and loose-assed fart sounds. You don't even know them but they're already lustful pieces of rowdy beasts, just pieces of meat in your eyes.
The fact is you don't want to know them, because they might become human to you. You don't want to know that each boy in that couple is not afraid of you, or that they don’t care what your thoughts are about them or what you want to say. They've heard so much worse.
A lifetime of hurts
Long before that day you saw them, each boy in that tangle has already gone through a lifetime of hurts and failures. He's already been teased, bullied, and threatened with violence because he wasn't like all the other boys.
His own father could have beaten him and his own mother already threatened to disown him. He has already spent nights crying in his bed begging for God to change his most innocent feelings about his identity and desires. He's already hated himself and echoed the disgust we've all fed him, the very first time he realized he had a crush on another guy.
No matter how young he is, or how smart and how talented, that boy you're laughing at already considered taking his own life. All because of someone like you.
Those boys are stronger than you will ever be, and braver than you could ever become. You were never made to sing or dance so relatives could laugh at your effeminate ways when you thought they just liked your talent.
You were never asked by your own parents to correct your mannerisms because it embarrassed them. Most of all, you were never told that you would burn in hell for falling in love. Do you think your wrong impression of them even comes close to what they've already endured?
Imagine being sexualized
Imagine if you saw a teenage boy and girl holding hands and automatically thought of the girl spread-eagled on the guy. Imagine if you and your wife were in the mall and people just pictured her vagina wrapped around your member on your romantic wedding night.
Imagine if you and your beloved girlfriend always brought on the image of her mouth accommodating your penis. It's violating and very offensive, isn't it? Especially for a woman, being thought of in this manner makes one feel dirty and molested. Guess what? This is how it feels when lesbians and gays are sexualized — in your "private" thoughts, in your "honest" questions, and in your "innocent" jokes.
The next time you see two boys or two girls together, before you launch your assumptions and figure out who's the "man" and who's the "woman," before you decide which of the girls was too desperate to get a real man, before you ask each other how you think lesbians make love; how about just letting them have their moment without you?
Can you please ignore them the way you've ignored every other straight couple, and the way we've ignored you? Have the decency to respect us the way we've had to respect you, for simply being a person. We thought you deserved it, so we hope you'd do the same.
Show of hands
Each half of that couple, by the simple defiant act of holding the other one's hand, is choosing to face a hateful world and telling their partner, "I'm with you no matter what they say or do." It is a statement you won't understand because your first love was never ruined by your own parents and friends, and turned into a porn film or a religious offense. It's a gesture whose gravity you don't get because nobody ever stared at you with so much malice and contempt for simply walking with someone you care for.
It's a moment gays and lesbians claim with everything they have, armed only with all of their hurts and the pull of their hearts, braving reactions and risking harm, just to be able to say something you’ve never had to and fortunately never will: "This is the one I love, and there's nothing you or anyone can do about that." – Rappler.com
Gay couple holding hands image from Shutterstock
Shakira Andrea Sison currently works in the financial industry while dabbling in several unrelated projects and interests. She is a veterinarian by education and was managing a retail corporation in Manila before relocating to New York in 2002. Join her conversations and follow her on Twitter: @shakirasison