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Gloc 9’s song, Sirena, must have been dedicated to the three gay students who spelled the difference between life and death among their fellow hostages of last month’s standoff between the government and the MNLF in Zamboanga City. With such incredible courage, Peter Jupiter Galvez, Ram Mahusay, and Momar Javier, defied Philippine society’s preconceived notions that gay men are only good inside a salon. So many of us – homophobic men in particular – are quick to associate being effeminate as a weakness, which also tragically reveals how men view feminine qualities as inherently submissive to masculinity. But the aforementioned three proved a point, most aptly described in Gloc 9’s song:

“Hindi sinusukat ang tapang at ang bigote sa mukha dahil kung minsan mas lalake pa sa lalake ang bakla.”

Galvez, Mahusay, and Javier showed balls, and proved they were the bigger men than the hostage takers. They cooked and fed the hostages, risking their own lives in the process. A hostage, Cherrey Belarmino, said she owed her and her mother’s life to the bravery exhibited by the students. Few men will face and dodge bullets for others in a day and age where modern amenities and technologies encourage everyone to live in their own insulated bubble. Add to that the remarkable yet common “queer” disposition of the students which typify the ability of a gay man to cope in the worst of situations with a touch of humor.

“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

It’s also interesting to note that in the Inquirer report one of those blessed by the valour and kindness of the trio was a Catholic priest. Fr. Michael Ufana’s father, Isidoro, was among the hostages. Old and unable to walk, Isidoro was carried by Javier whenever the hostages had to move house to house because of the violence and fighting. We all know how staunchly critical the Catholic Church is of homosexuality. To have a priest humbly recognize the goodness of the students is certainly worth mentioning.

There is more to being gay than same-sex attraction. Being gay does not define a person. At the end of the day, character is measured by a person’s action (or inaction). Goodness is not dependent on sexual preference. It’s just unfortunate that media – which like politics, is mostly a middle-class and elitist endeavour – continues to portray gay men in one-dimension. Television dramas showcase gay men under the light of extramarital affairs; independent films bank on the eroticism of homosexual relationships; tabloids profit by sensationalizing the ambivalence of a celebrity’s sexuality.

I do hope there comes a day when a person’s sexual preference would be less scandalizing compared to what most people see it today. See, if a person’s masculinity is to be measured by his courage, compassion, humility, and sincerity, then Galvez, Mahusay, and Javier are certainly manlier than Makati Mayor Jun Jun Binay could ever dream to be.

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