Nathan - the Philippines

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I've decided to share my story. Or at least, what I've seen in my short young-adult life. While I may present myself in various social media as two personas, I am a whole person with real-life experiences. And at times, these experiences show how different and difficult life is for people.

Anyway, here in the Philippines, specifically in my municipality, the LGBT+ are treated and seen differently than what the international community sees them as. In some parts, there are good and positive things being done. However, there are negative things that damage and make the LGBT+ misunderstood and undermined as unique human beings.

Growing up, there was no avenue to gain knowledge about different types of people but to see, meet, and experience their company. Generally, individuals are treated in a polite manner and are respected but behind closed doors or in the company of close friends, gossip and backtalk is commonplace. Whether it is to harm the identity of the person or just a cultural pastime, I do not know for certain. This talk behind the back behavior led me to learn more about different kinds of people. people who are criticized, and ostracized in a subtle manner.

These people are often the misunderstood and the marginalized. The LGBT.

Growing up not-straight was not a big deal until I developed feelings for another person. Like, deep and genuine feelings. Love. Desire. Passion. Before this happened, I went with my life not minding these kinds of things and went with the flow, followed what the elders - my parents - believed and acted like.

When older people do not talk about LGBT people at their back, they treated them with smiles and laughter. It was a good thing. Only that... it wasn't completely good. When said person leaves and others are left to themselves, they talk about them and snide remarks rise. The smiles and laughter are simply bought their stereotypical view of the LGBT person as someone who acts camp, funny and boisterous. They treat them almost like any other straight individual but deep down, they view them in a shallow manner and their identity as LGBT takes the forefront, almost as if nothing else is part of their personality, their life.

In some cases - actually, most cases - they refer to the LGBT person as 'bayot' or 'tomboy'. Those terms are drawn in a mix of a dialect and an English word. Those terms weren't necessarily bad but it becomes so when you connect it with their treatment of said person - both in their face and hidden behind curtains.

As said above, they view the LGBT person stereo-typically and see them in a narrow, single path. They simply reduce them into 'bayot' - a camp gay 'gay' - the effeminate homosexual who wants to be a girl; and the 'tomboy' - the girl who acts like a man who wants to be a man and does man-things.

They talk about them as if they a little less than them. As if they're just that, and nothing more. If they achieve things - the LGBT person - the first that comes of their mouth is not the name of the LGBT person but rather the term bayot or tomboy. They even call them like that, like they had no name to begin with. These people know homosexuals and lesbians are different people but they can't seem to grasp that they are indeed 'different' even among themselves.

To exaggerate (maybe or maybe not), 'All gays are like that' or 'All lesbians are like that.'

Back to me as a growing LGBT boy - I denied myself from exploring and understanding who I am because of this chance that they'll see me as just that - a homosexual. There's nothing wrong to be seen as one, to be honest, but to be seen as 'just' a homosexual is dehumanizing.

For years, this belief made me stop acknowledging who I really was, reinforced by the continued behavior of the people around me - even those who were gay and lesbians themselves. Maybe they internalized those ideas too. I don't know.

When I finally acknowledged that I wasn't straight and had feelings for a guy, I made me cry. There's this deep-seated fear that I'd be treated like the people they talk about in hushed voices. The ones they views as one-dimensional beings. I didn't want to be seen as such and thus I hid.

And hid.

When I matured as a person and was exposed to a more diverse culture, I became more open of my sexuality. LGBT were well accepted when I spent my days at university and there were a lot of openly LGBT people. Their presence made me open up my sexual orientation more, slowly erasing my fear of 'being one of those people'.

My time at university went well. It was a progressive place and that's a lot especially for being in a rural place and just a bit forgotten by the capital. Or course, it had to turn to something bittersweet.

True, a lot of LGBT individuals were open and were even achievers. They held their head high and didn't bow down just to please intolerant and narrow minded assholes. But they too carried their own narrow mindsets.

The thing about stereotyping doesn't apply if you're viewing from the outside. Sometimes, it can come from within the community. What's disappointing is that they're exposed to resources and it's easy to educate themselves about it but they continue to view fellow LGBT+ in a particular way.

Now, my adolescent mind was exposed to the existence of the often forgotten bisexuals. There were a lot of them at university and most of them were either influential, famous, or just generally talked about. They had presence.

When you look at them closely, something seems off.

Note that discovering and experimenting is natural and this was what I've noticed. They identified as bisexual and I'm basing this on what the LGBT+ individuals at university referred them to as here - men who like women and men, or either they are masculine gay men.

They took out effeminate men in the definition and plastered 'just gay' on them, not bothering if they felt attraction or romantic feelings for the other sex. It seemed they had something against effeminate people that makes them harsher and tunnel visioned. It can be quite hurtful when this happens.

I, myself, thought I was bisexual. I did have feelings for one girl. But as time passed, I realized it was an intimate connection but wasn't romance or lust. It was more of a deep friendship that I developed with her and lead me to recognize I was Kinsey 6 hella' gay. Sad thing was, I still clung to the bisexual identity I claimed. I'm ashamed to admit that I would be less of a person if I was viewed as a gay man, regardless if I was truly effeminate or not, and/or they viewed me as effeminate or not.

Through time and resisting the influence of those around me, I came to accept I'm hella' gay and their stereotypical notion that gay men can't be masculine and feminine at different times didn't define who I truly was. It was long and had to happen.

To this day, I see instances of this cases happening.

Ignorance about the plight of the LGBT and downplaying it to something trivial led people - most of them elders - to treat them as one-dimensional walking stereotypes and failing to refer them by their name.

The same LGBT+ people viewing their peers to be that and not that, failing to see that even if two individuals were both gay or lesbian, they can still be different and be gay and lesbian.

I don't exactly know why this happened in my backwater province but it could be laziness to educate oneself and absence of concern for the LGBT+ struggle.

There's progress happening but the preconceive notions and beliefs rule my people. I just hope things like these - books and testimonials - will help them learn and grow.

Sincerely,

Nathan

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