Is that bakla after you?
For every gay man there is a straight man who has feared him. In Filipino culture it isn't unusual to hear, "Pare, bading ba yan? Baka hipuan ka n'yan! (Is he gay? He might fondle you!)" in reference to a gay acquaintance.
Whenever these men know they will be in contact with a gay man - be it a doctor, a friend, a teacher, or a classmate - they are on high alert, as if this bakla just has to satisfy himself on them and will not be stopped.
Why are straight men compelled to believe that gay men are out to molest them?
It is not rare for straight men to give proud statements of how they would physically attack a gay man should they feel threatened by them sexually. "'Pag may bading na tumingin sakin sa CR, uumbagin ko (I'm going to hit any gay man who looks at me in the bathroom)." Men seem to be so on guard about the bakla's advances to the point of violence, as if gay men are compelled to force themselves on them.
The threat of a male body
Many men fear that the bakla will come on to them as if gay men have no control of their desires. They believe that men are wired with strong sexual urges, but unlike a female admirer, a gay man might actually be able to physically overpower them. But bearing this view is an admission that all men are helpless to their sexuality. Or does it become okay if the objects of their uncontrollable urges are women? Does it make it "normal" when men harass women instead of men?
The fear of the predatory gay man is the closest men will get to the fear constantly felt by women who have to fight off unwanted advances daily. It's true what they say that you're not really afraid of gay men, but just afraid a man will treat you the way you treat women. You're afraid that a man who has the physical ability to force himself on you will do so on a whim. Congratulations! You’ve just described the fear women face in their daily lives.
Of course, there are gay men who are overly pushy about their desires and enjoy teasing men about wanting them sexually, just like there are many straight men who do this to women. Men constantly chase women, harass them and sexually assault them, but this is not a reason to fear all men in general, right? Just like there are many straight men who respect women and would never force them against their wishes, most gay men pursue romantic and sexual prospects in a mature and sensitive manner.
Majority of sex offenders are heterosexual men, and yet gay men are often blamed for instances of pedophilia and molestation. It's fairly common for a female victim of sexual abuse to be told to keep quiet or to be blamed for the assault, but an aggressive gay man is treated as if he needs to be exposed. A straight man is also never blamed for his outfit or his actions if he is ever assaulted. Why the double standard? Men who chase women relentlessly are referred to as "lalake lang (simply being men)," but a man who chases other men is suddenly an aberration - a sick person who must be stopped with violence - when the only difference is their object of affection. Is it because it's not "normal" the way chasing women is?
Do unto others
The next time you encounter a gay man and fear that this person (who has never wronged you) will pursue you sexually, ask yourself the following things:
1. How would you feel if every woman you meet feels you will rape them? When you are suspicious of every bakla you meet, this is how you're treating them.
2. What qualities make you completely irresistible that gay men have to pursue you? Are you that incredibly hot that they would risk a violent reaction just to touch you? It might be time for a mirror.
3. As a straight man, do you have some taste in women and practice restraint, or do you fondle each one you see? Gay men are just as picky, reserved, and as hesitant as you are when it comes to women, unless of course you do not have these qualities.
4. Are you afraid that being flattered by a man's attention instead of reacting violently to it makes you gay? You are not gay until you enjoy sex with men, and assaulting men doesn’t mean you’re not. Is it absolutely impossible to simply decline politely, the way you would if you were pursued by a woman who isn't your type?
5. How would you feel if women had a plan of violence against you if you simply looked their way? You are right - it's incredibly paranoid, baseless, and an outright obsession. Check who actually has a physical need to hurt someone, because it might just be you.
Things seem to drastically shift when one places themselves in the shoes of others, or when one reverses the roles and treats homosexuals as people just like you with valid desires and needs. Gay men exist all around you, and they're not just the ones you can pinpoint and avoid. Contrary to popular opinion, gay people actually know where to find consensual sex. We are not these sex-starved uncontrollable perverts in your mind.
So the next time you think gay people keep coming on to you, try not to flatter yourself. We do have some taste, and we get what we need without much effort from other consenting adults, and mostly from our kind. Consider too that your paranoia may be a reflection of your secret desires. That bakla is not out to get you, no more than you are out to force yourself on every woman around.
Shakira Sison is a Palanca Award-winning essayist. She currently works in finance in New York City and spends her non-working hours loving gay men in subway trains. Her column appears on Thursdays. Follow her on Twitter: @shakirasison and on Facebook.com/sisonshakira.
Image credit: “Sexual Discrimination of the Mind” by Andy Singer used with permission.