How to be a true friend to LGBT folks

12) Don't assume that gay people are not religious, or have bad relationships, or have no support from their parents. Don't assume that we're all closeted, or ashamed, or will lie about our sexuality when asked.

13) Don't assume that a gay person who comes out to you is out to everyone. Never "out" a gay person. You don't know what risks they face at home, at work, or in their community. Don't say that it's okay to out them because they're "obvious" anyway. 

14) Don't confront us and say, "Ano ka ba, babae o lalake?" (What are you, a girl or a guy?) because you know you're not truly curious, you're just pushing us against a wall. If you want to know how we want to identify, then ask nicely. Ask how we want to be referred to, how we want to be complimented, and how we want to be spoken to.

15) If you're genuinely talking to a gay man or a lesbian, read up on the difference between gender identity and sexual preference. Liking the same sex does not change your gender in the way that liking bananas does not make you a monkey.

16) "Ay, hindi ka halata. (You're not obvious.)" is not a flattering thing to say. Being gay is an honor, and when you say it's good we're not obvious, you say it's better if we just "look straight" or if we keep hiding who we are. Most of us don't aspire to be straight. Implying that being straight is better is offensive.

17) If you are friends with gays but believe that they should not marry, reevaluate why you deserve that commitment and protection but they don't. Don't use religious reasons because the Philippines is not a theocracy. We don't base laws, rights, and benefits on religion. If we did then we'd make communion mandatory and criminalize contraception.

18) If you insist on depriving a part of society the rights and benefits you freely receive, say it to your gay friends' faces: "I don't think you deserve what all other citizens get." Stand up to your gay friend and say, "You cannot marry because I don't like how you look and what you do in your bedroom." Be proud that you believe your friend deserves less than what you have. Explain to them what makes you more special and deserving of those rights. 

19) When your friends run to you with romantic problems, simply be there for them. Don't use it as an opportunity to convince them to become straight. If you’re a woman, how would you feel if every time you had a boyfriend problem, your friend's solution is that you date ladies? It's dismissive and hurtful to assume one's sexual orientation is the cause of their unhappiness. Your broken heart is no different from ours. 

20) Say sorry and mean it. Say, "I know I've said hurtful things in the past. I'd like you to tell me if I've offended you or said something hurtful about your community. I don't want to be that kind of person. Please let me know if I accidentally say something offensive in the future." Your friend will appreciate it.

21) Put yourself in our shoes. Before saying anything or thinking aloud, place yourself in the same position as your LGBT friends. Imagine you could never marry your true love. Imagine you could not own property with your life partner. Imagine being told from childhood that the way you act, speak, live, and love are wrong. Imagine being regarded as perverted, disgusting, or as sexual predators. See if you would take insults as lightly as you would like us to. 

You don't have to follow all these tips, or even care to be friendly or good to LGBT people. But don't claim to be a friend without taking the responsibility of friendship. This includes protecting your friends' happiness and supporting their lives. - 

June is Pride Month! The Metro Manila Pride March is celebrating its 21st anniversary on June 27th in Luneta. Click here for details of Pride Month events.