Image courtesy of Alejandro Edoria
It took a beloved hero to offend us, an icon worshipped and made God, having the messiah-like power to part the Red Sea of EDSA traffic during his fights.
It took a runaway from the lowest of rung of society to rise to unimaginable heights and amass wealth that would never be within reach of his entire province's population combined.
Until he said what we've heard a hundred times throughout our lives, sentiments echoed in our schools, in our families, and in our churches.
We've been insulted before
What Pacquiao said about us wasn't new. We've been called animals before. We've been called disgusting and abominable. We've been called evil molesters and pedophiles.
From the moment we've shown the first sign of non-conformity, we've been told our lives are sinful, shameful, and that it would be best if we just changed our most fundamental selves.
We've been forced to hide our crushes. We've been required to hide our true loves. We've had to call our life partners our roommates, best friends, or cousins.
We've had to pretend our children we're raising aren't really ours, asking them to call us Tito or Tita so that they won't have a hard time.
It was never easy to ignore those painful lines. Every day we are made to feel that the way we act, live and love is something to be embarrassed about.
We've sat through numerous homilies and religious teachings that say people like us deserve death and eternal damnation. We've learned not to flinch when our own relatives laughed at our friends and acquaintances, and sometimes even at us. (READ: Manny Pacquiao, religion and bigotry)
We've learned to nod when our "well-meaning" tita tells us that marriage and children are the only paths to happiness. (Never mind that it's not that we don't want marriage, it's that marriage doesn't want us.)
We've lowered our voices and clenched our fists when titos told us to be more manly. We've grown our hair when our mother demanded, "Magpakababae ka naman (Be more like a woman)." We've changed ourselves to conform, sacrificing our comfort and self-respect for someone else's peace of mind.
We've been made to feel worthless and unlovable on a daily basis. From the dirty looks when we use public restrooms to taunts in schools, on streets, and even in our own homes.
Trust that for each and every LGBT Filipino, Pacquiao's insults were not the first time we've been called names. Our parents might have already treated us worse.
Our classmates have ridiculed us a hundred times and we've either had to cower or fight back, knowing nobody will defend us.
This time was different
Even Vice Ganda and Lea Salonga responded. Even Giselle Tongi spoke up about what was right.
Most surprising of all, heterosexual allies are rising up, standing brave and strong for their LGBT friends and family members. They are telling everyone else that it isn't right to belittle anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or class.
They are asking their younger gay brothers if they were hurt. They're assuring their lesbian daughters they're on their side.
A new wave is rising in the LGBT movement and it has to do with all of us raising our hands and saying that we are offended when we are insulted, instead of keeping quiet and feeling ashamed of who we are, the way we've done in the past.
We've become so proud of ourselves, our relationships, careers, and contributions to society to just let some bible-thumping elementary school dropout tell us our worth. Not anymore. We've had enough.
So proud of all of us
I am so, so proud of how far we've all come individually and as a community. I'm proud when we no longer let people walk all over us.
I'm extra proud when someone makes a stand and says, "A 'friend' who wants less for me is not a friend of mine," because we know that we will be fine without surrounding ourselves with people who only use us for fun company but desert us as soon as they get the chance.
I am proud to be surrounded by straight allies, friends, and relatives who believe I should have what they have.
And what about the rest of the haters?
I've learned we cannot change people who do not want to change themselves. But if we let them know that their support of a bigot hurts us – either through their insults or their silence when they don't defend us – maybe they will learn that in supporting a stranger who will do nothing for them, they might lose their own brother, sister, mother, father, cousin, friend, or child.
Maybe when they lose their fun and brilliant LGBT friends in support of a bigoted "hero" and corrupt politician, they'll notice the void in their lives.
Either way, I am glad this horrible situation made us see who among our friends and relatives support us, and who would rather stand with a stranger in hatred and oppression.
Let's thank Pacquiao's ignorance for making it clear as day whether the people around us think nothing of hurting us, in exchange for the love and kindness we bring into their lives. – Rappler.com