An idiot’s guide to treating your LGBTQ co-worker as a human being (part 1?)

To celebrate LGBT Pride Month and the Philippines’ 117th Independence Day (from Spain, at least), BuzzFeed Philippines asked around 20 LGBT Filipinos an interesting question: “As part of the LGBT community, what does freedom mean to you?

Now, I’m usually very thankful that I live in a country where it’s illegal and deplorable to execute someone for the silliest things (you know, like sexual orientation–hello, Iran), but every now and then, I find myself sickened, angry even, that I can’t enjoy the fullness of my liberties because I’m surrounded by idiots.

The ratio of people who would care to lift a finger for the freedoms mentioned above against those who would only feel 10 seconds of empathy is alarming. 3:10? 2:10? 1:10 even? I don’t have the exact numbers, but based on experience, very few people would give a fuck.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that bad living here. Big cities have LGBT discrimination laws, food is cheap, Internet isn’t the best but isn’t the worst either (or is it?), and I can write this entry without fear of being flogged for it.

But, can we not have more? Can we not have the rest of the package?

lgbtqph

An LGBTQ-aware archipelago? You wish.

This post could be the first of many–as we do have loads to consider–so, I’ll start with being a mostly-gay, mostly-cisgender man (click if unfamiliar with terms) in a corporate setting.

Now, this may not be a matter as “great” as marriage equality or the legalisation of homosexuality (hello to you, too, Saudi Arabia), but it’s still an important thing to consider. Like I said, we deserve the full package, and that includes being respected for who we are.

Thus, below is an idiot’s guide (quite literally) in treating your gay co-worker as a human being:

Introduce them as your colleagues, not your “gay” colleagues. You don’t do that for your straight colleagues; why should you do it for the gay ones?

Don’t assume that your gay colleagues want to be excluded from other men (yes, it is a thing to confuse gay with transgender here, even within gay circles).

In other words: don’t introduce them as women. If they’re transgender or gender-fluid, they’ll let you know (or if they don’t, leave it). A gay man does not lose his right to “manliness” by being gay, and a straight guy doesn’t need to be all masculine, either. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing. Learn the difference.

Obviously, don’t refer to them using feminine language (unless they ask you to). Don’t assume that your gay colleague is your gurl, sister, auntie, or amiga, or that you can refer to them as “she”. And even if the ones you know are clearly “flamboyant”, that doesn’t necessarily mean they identify as female.

Don’t introduce them as “third sex”. Heaven knows how outdated and offensive that term is. Your gay colleagues probably do not have different genitalia than your straight ones, so they’re not a separate sex.

Don’t be a nosy prick: you don’t need to know if your new colleague is “gay” or whatever. Unless, you want to date them, does it really matter? And if it doesn’t matter, why do you even need to know?

If your gay colleague is partnered, don’t ask who the “woman” is in the relationship. It’s misogynistic and heteronormative. A hundred percent of the time, because they’re gay men, neither is a woman; they’re both dudes.

If you’re one of those straight guys who think every gay guy is dying to get into your pants, don’t flatter yourself. Chances are, your gay colleague may not even like you in that way.

Say your gay colleague does have a crush on you, that doesn’t mean he wants to get you into bed right away. If you’re getting signals, ask, don’t assume.

Feel free to crack LGBTQ jokes if and only if you understand the context: nobody likes an ignorant twat trying to be funny.

I’m sure there’s more, but, of course, I speak only for myself. Cha Roque did so as a lesbian mother, and you should, too, in your own way.

Point is, we all need to know better and we should never be silent about these things. Being non-straight in the office doesn’t have to be so hard (especially in 21st century urban Manila, Jesus H. Christ). And whilst I understand that this may be new for many Filipinos, if you’re going to throw around words like gay and lesbian every now and then, you better know how to use them and why. And, hopefully, you do want to be thoughtful and sensitive and educated. Right?

PS: If you’re lesbian, trans, bi, queer, or whatever, hit me up with your list.

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A week of thanks: 9th-15th of the 12th, 2013

This week, I am thankful for the following:

  • La langue française. It continues to drive me insane, even after two years. It’s an exhilarating kind of insanity, though, so it’s mostly okay. I love languages and I’m thankful for each and every one of them.
  • My friends. I’m always thankful for my friends.
  • For my friend who made me watch Spirited Away. In French. What a magical, weird movie.
  • Peter Jackson! You can hate him all you want, but I love this man to death. There were several cringe-worthy scenes in The Desolation of Smaug, but the movie was still awesome. This Middle-Earthling is grateful.
  • Sannion. I will be eternally grateful for this man’s genius and how he’s bridged me closer to Dionysos.
  • Dionysos. May his name be praised for ever and ever.
  • The landwights and house lares for their guardianship over my city and family. I’ll miss them when I leave the country, but I trust that they will bless me on my journey.
  • For life. For love. For the glorious Innernets (even if it’s acting kind of stupid right now).
  • For Christmas! It traditionally starts tomorrow at the break of dawn. (Other Filipinos will start theirs on 1 September, but I’m not one of them.)
Liverpool covered in snow. Photo by I don't know who.

Liverpool covered in snow. Photo by I don’t know who.

The problem with Irish haters is that they’re wrong

Image from gaelicmatters.com

Image from gaelicmatters.com

Irish is dead.

Says who? People from the Pale? If you want to believe that the Gaeltacht is run by ghosts, sure, that’s your problem, but truth is, Irish isn’t dead and it’s never really died out.

If you want to be more accurate, then you should use “dying”, but Irish has got to be one of the toughest mofos in town if it’s cheated death for this long. Have some respect.

Besides, even if it were, so what if it’s dead? Ever heard of Hebrew?

We should let it die.

Who’s we? You can choose not to learn it (well, not if you live in Ireland, in which case you’ve got to), but do you even realise how heavy a burden it would be for our humanity to allow a language to die?

Losing languages means losing knowledge … When we lose a language, we lose centuries of human thinking about time, seasons, sea creatures, reindeer, edible flowers, mathematics, landscapes, myths, music, the unknown and the everyday.

Allowing Irish to die is a horrible thought.  No one’s forcing you to fight for it, but at least, stay out of our way.

Nobody speaks it anymore. Only a few people speak it!

I don’t speak Irish (yet), but I would always choose to learn it. It’s a beautiful language! I couldn’t care any less whether ten million or just ten people spoke it. The beauty and worth of a language isn’t tied to the number of its speakers.

We should just stick with English or learn French or Spanish instead.

Who said learning languages is an either-or thing? I’m sure there are others who speak very good English, French, Spanish and Irish, too. An ideal world is a world full of polyglots, not lingo-fascists.

Don’t ram it down my throat!

I apologise if some of us have been arseholes trying to force it on you, but that isn’t the intent. For any group of people trying to build on a heritage long persecuted and ridiculed, some effort is needed for preservation. Nobody is going to call you “un-Irish” for not speaking Irish as your first language (I hope), but please, don’t spit on the tireless efforts of hundreds of pious souls who just want a piece of their cherished identity back.


Okay, the celtophilic Hellene from Manila is done with his rant, which is brought to you by the haters on TG Lurgan’s Irish rendition of “Can’t Hold us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Check out the rest of their videos here and their website here. I love these kids! I hope they live for ever.

Here, have a picture of beautiful Ireland!

Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal, Ireland © Andy McInroy (andymcinroy.com)

Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal, Ireland © Andy McInroy (andymcinroy.com)

Not the first time I’ve danced under the rain

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Today is Earthdance Manila 2013 (my fifth, I think) and it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Not that that would stop me from going. I braved a tempest at the Ganesha Visarjan this Sunday; this rain is nothing compared to that. Carry on, Zeus Ombrios!

Although, not a Pagan Pride Day in itself, the event is often attended not only by eclectic Neopagans (usually bright-eyed, light-and-love “Witches”), but also tribal spiritual leaders (real ones, thank the Gods). The greater part of the crowd, though, will be artists, dancers, musicians, photographers, interfaith workers, hippies, pomos, vegans, outgoing cosmopolitans, and so on. It’s not the best fundraiser there is, but it helps and it’s fun. I get to dance, too! That’s my primary goal, anyhow.

Tonight, we dance!

Atheist temples, why and how?

Today, I shared this on Facebook with a comparatively long commentary that I thought I should blog about it, too:

My first reaction was why? What for? What does an atheist represent? What does it accomplish?

My second reaction was how? I think building atheist temples is particularly problematic because atheism doesn’t belong to any single culture (although many atheists, arguably, seem to engage in a particular cultural trend, “New Atheism”, but that’s another story). We know that atheists are found in virtually all cultures, and can really be anything from intellectuals to culturally illiterate trolls. How ever can you make a temple that represent such a variety? And, what do all atheists have in common other than nonbelief in deity, anyway?

However, whilst I do question the point to building an atheist “temple”, I also disagree with the suggestion that atheists already have their sacred spaces in libraries, laboratories, museums, and the LHC. They are, to use the word loosely, “temples” of knowledge, art, history, and science — not atheism alone! And, these temples belong to all humankind, no matter what their beliefs are. Are atheists more likely to hold libraries ‘sacred’ than theists? From a very narrow definition of religion (Dawkins’ atheism vs orthodox monotheism), one might be tempted to say yes, but a narrow definition of such a truly complicated matter is ultimately undesirable.

Besides, I think atheists, in general, don’t need religious temples because they either: 1. already have their own (religious atheists who pray at Buddhist temples or atheist Jews who attend synagogue, etc); 2. their respective cultures don’t distinguish temple from library from grove (atheist pagans, mostly); or 3. they’re simply not interested in enshrining their nonbelief.

Your thoughts?

I missed last year’s Magdalene karakol; I shan’t miss it this year and for ever.

Mayo a veinte ocho nanamán.
Simulâ na ng pagbuhos ng ulán.
Dalá ng lakambining nangantimugan.
Magdalena ang kanyáng pangalan. 

Aba at Junio na.
Nagbalik na ang Magdalena.

Maryá Magdalenang dalá ng dayuhan
Salamín ng bathalumang nakalimután.
Ngayó’y sa amin nang nanahan
Naibsán ang pagtangis sa nakaraán.

Sakáy ng alon saami’y nakaabot.
Kamí’y isukob sa iyóng salakót.

Kulóg at kidlát ang kanyáng dalá
Ulán para sa nangansaka.
Pagkaing tubo mulâ sa lupà
Siyáng biyayà ng Magdalena.

Halina at kamí’y basaín.
Dingín itóng aming dalangin.

Papuri’t galák sa lakambining Maryá
Sayáw mo sa amin ay ligaya
Ulán mong buhay sa amin at paritó
At sa susong-lupang inalayan mo. 

Aba, aba! Poón naming Maryá.
Amen; siyá nawá ang wikà nilá.

Work

Yes, I know, she’s not at all like the biblical Mary Magdalene. This is pure polytheistic love.