Evan asked me to talk about the Philippine gay scene, from lifestyle to status of gay rights. Luckily, I found the ideal candidate to discuss these issues with. AJ of baklaako.com is a twenty-something gay urbanite who believes that life may be unfair, but it still is worth living. He is gay, and he makes no excuses for it.
Here’s the first batch of questions I asked AJ.
1. What was the idea behind the name of your blog? Is there a particular reason why the “may reklamo?” (got a problem with that?) is a part of your tagline?
This probably is the first time I was asked about the title of my blog. I came up with Bakla Ako, May Reklamo? (I’m Gay, Got a Problem With That) in December 2006. During that time, my friends (gay or straight, male or female) used the term “bakla” as a term of endearment or just as a filler in place of “hey friend” in conversations. Whenever I did something and someone questioned it or asked for reasons behind it, I would retort “Bakla ako eh. May reklamo ka?” (Well, I’m gay. Do you have a problem with that?). When I started my blog in February 2007, I figured that the whole line was very apt for the blog title as it defined the whole niche of my blog. I wanted my blog to reflect my pride in being gay, and that I make no excuses for being one.
2. How, in your opinion are gays regarded in the Philippines? Is there still discrimination? If yes, care to cite some examples? If no, why do you think so?
I believe that there is more of tolerance than acceptance of homosexuals in the Philippines. In some areas, gays are recognized and respected; while in other areas, gays are still considered scum and an embarrassment to the society. However, I’d like to believe that there is growing acceptance more than just tolerance and discrimination.
Discrimination, as it is in most societies, is still happening. Even if they are not quite publicized, or people just dismiss them as mere jokes or efforts in making humor, widespread discrimination still abounds this society. Take for example cases in schools: some exclusive schools for boys still do not allow gay students to enroll, others simply disallow stereotypical “gay” behavior. Another case would be in employment: some companies blatantly disallow cross-dressing, while others simply do not hire employees on the basis of sexual orientation.
The latest scandal involving the doctors and nurses in the much-publicized Cebu Canister Scandal at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center is a clear sign of discrimination.
(Author’s note: Cebu Canister Scandal is the issue on a gay guy’s operation that was made a mockery of on youtube. He woke up after a night with a partner to find a perfume canister stuck inside his rectum. He got operated on and some of those who operated on him videotaped the whole thing. The victim sued the scumbags and will hopefully win.)
The Catholic Church
And that brings us to the Catholic Church. Since the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation, the Church has a great influence not only on its members, but also on governance and legislation. Recently, some members of the clergy have made it to the news for their blatant discrimination of homosexuals. One was the case of that Cebu priest who blamed the issue of the Cebu Canister Scandal on the victim’s homosexuality. Another was the priest who banned gay men from joining the Flower Festival parade called Santacruzan. That same priest also said that the Church does not condemn homosexuals, only homosexual acts.
Now there’s the rub.
Bakla Ako, May Reklamo: See the world and the gay world through the eyes of this twenty-something gay urbanite who lives a gay old life and makes no excuses for it.
More to come! Stay tuned for AJ’s views on Gay Marriage and Adoption in the Philippines.