As we move forward as a community of people willing not only to come out for love but also to fight for it, we cannot be blind to the fact that some of us are not able to keep up. While many of us are now willing to fight for love, some are still struggling to come out because of the various social circumstances they find themselves in.
Mark (not his real name) is a gay man studying in a prestigious university in Metro Manila. He grew up in a morally conservative family from whom he would always hear hateful comments against homosexuals. When Mark finally entered college, he decided to join a fraternity thinking that it could help him “man up” or “straighten up”. He was mistaken. The more he hides his preferred sexual identity, the more he desires to come out. The more he is embedded in the hyper-masculine culture of fraternal brotherhood, the stronger his instinct for freedom grows. While that desire to come out is growing strong, his membership to a fraternity makes it hard for him to openly claim his sexual identity.
Culture of Hate
Mark’s biography stands testament to the fact that while incremental successes are visible in the recent years, the LGBT community in the Philippines still has a long way to go. While some progressive fraternities and sororities have opened up to LGBT membership, there remains a culture of hate against homosexuals among some fraternities and sororities.
The work is not over. We, as a community, must constantly reflect both existing and emerging cultures of hat directed against us. We must constantly confront these cultures of hate using our principles of constructive engagements and attitude of wit. Our strategies of engagement must be mindful of the fact that certain segments of our community, like Mark, are constrained by their social circumstances to publicly join the fight for love.
Personal Fight for Love
Mark’s narrative shows his personal fight for love. He decided to join a fraternity thinking he would become straight inside it. This cues us to reflect on the perverse belief that homosexuality is “curable”. Being socialized in a morally conservative society, Mark believed that his sexual identity is something he can change or escape from.
As Mark recounted, his gay sexual identity did not change despite being a full pledge member of a fraternity. Instead, his desire to be free became stronger. Due to his social circumstances, Mark is trapped inside what most of us might call the closet. Anyone who has been in the closet would know how hard it is at times to live in your own truth. It is unfair to judge this personal struggle as cowardice.
It takes a different form of courage to live in the daily pains of not being able to live freely and comfortably in one’s own truth.
Mark is taking one little step at time. Unlike some of us who have defied the, he remains to be a captive inside the dark space of the closet. But like all of us, he is also fighting for love. He is fighting for his love for himself. He is slowly outing himself to few friends and family members. He hopes for a day where he packs enough guts to not anymore deny himself of the sexual freedom he longs for.
Fight for Love
Mark’s story speaks to all those who find themselves in a similar situation. There are many people in our community who are not able to publicly claim who they are because of religious dogmas, economic circumstances, familial ties and organizational affiliations. These stories should inspire us to continue the fight for love.
The fight we commence should always proceed from and end in love.
We have to fight for safe spaces where we are enabled rather than constrained to claim who we are. Regardless of whether we are in the closet or not, the fight we commence should always proceed from and end in love. Our acts of defiance should stand as evidence of our commitment to fight for various forms of love so that one day no man or woman is forced to hide in the so-called “closet”.
John Andrew G. Evangelista is a self-identified gay man working as an instructor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman where he is also taking up his master’s degree in Sociology. He is currently writing his thesis tentatively entitled “Pakikibaka sa Pakikibeki: Framing the Annual Metro Manila Pride March”. His research interests include gender and sexuality studies, queer sociology and popular culture. He can be reached via Facebook.