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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Pater dimitte illis, non enim sciunt, quid faciunt (Or you can also smite them, Lord)

All decent folk know about the ignorance, irrationality, and general arseholery surrounding LGBTQ-phobia. Whether it’s homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia, we’ve seen it, we’ve heard about it, and we might’ve experienced it ourselves.

In the United States, champions of LGBTQ-phobia are usually from the Christian Right. They’re loud, they’re rabid, and they’re really stupid. (As the popular adage goes, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”.)

Fortunately, we have countless friends who tirelessly fight this sort of unnatural and unintelligent bigotry every day.

BuzzFeed has done a superb job in creating entertaining ways to educate the ‘Great Unwashed’. Here are some of the really good ones:

HRC has also continuously updated us on the rapid progression of marriage equality in the United States:

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I know Uncle Sam and I haven’t always got(en) along very well, but I’m really happy with how things are unfolding. There’s still a lot more to be done, sure, but the progress is so encouraging, I could shit daisies.

It’s not just the activists, it’s also (and, perhaps, more importantly) the ‘regular’ people out there who’ve stood their ground when it mattered the most. Thank you from the bottom of my mongrel heart.

Unfortunately, at least in terms of LGBTQ awareness, I live in a much sadder place. Whilst more than half of the United States are enjoying marriage equality, a great majority of my countrymen are on the fence whether transgender murder victim, Jennifer Laude, should be treated like a human being or not. They refuse to talk about it, and those who do open their mouths are often much, much worse. Dustin writes:

Many of these comments express disgust and indignation, not because a person was brutally murdered, but because “a tranny tried to have sex with a straight man” …

Many comments expressed satisfaction that karmic justice was served, not because a murderer was caught, but because “a sinner was punished” …

Some comments even suggested that it was funny, and it was Jennifer’s fault that she was murdered because she was “pretending to be a woman”.

Any decent society would be enraged, but the one I live in I have to put up with, apparently, isn’t decent enough. This, despite the claimed “godliness” of this little archipelago republic.

Dustin continues to write:

It should be no surprise that hate crimes against the LGBT community are tolerated in a country where majority of the people identify as Catholics, Christians, or Muslims; all of them, religions that hate homosexuality.

I can provide a litany of research proving how those who believe themselves to be the holiest of the holy, the most righteous of the righteous, the most faithful of the faithful, the most religious of the religious, the closest to God, are the most determined advocates of hate and bigotry. The most fervent believers of homophobic religious doctrine inevitably become the most homophobic people. When a person is indoctrinated and trained from childhood to hate homosexuality, it’s rather difficult to unlearn it as an adult.

In the words of Jennifer’s fiancé, “No wonder the monster soldier did think he would get away with it. You show him that every day. Your society does. How should a foreigner respect people like Jennifer if your own society doesn’t?

We ought to be ashamed of ourselves, for fucking serious. Dare we even say we’re one of the most “gay-friendly” in the world? Condescension and conditional tolerance don’t count, you shits. We can’t even care to learn the difference between a gay man and a transwoman and a cross-dresser. Even if we have to type it for them, again and again and again.

Protesters, mostly supporters of LGBT (Lesbians Gays Bisexuals and Transgenders) hold lighted candles and display messages to demand justice in the killing of a Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, with a U.S. Marine as a possible suspect Tuesday, Oct.14, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. The activists demanded that Washington hand over to the Philippines a Marine implicated in the killing of a transgender identified as Jerry Laude also known as "Jennifer" which the demonstrators labeled a hate crime. In a US Embassy statement issued Monday, it said "The United States Embassy in Manila expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jeffrey Laude, who was found dead in Olongapo city on October 11. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Protesters, mostly supporters of LGBT (Lesbians Gays Bisexuals and Transgenders) hold lighted candles and display messages to demand justice in the killing of a Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, with a U.S. Marine as a possible suspect Tuesday, Oct.14, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

I know we have some of the bravest people fighting for acceptance and awareness around here, but the vast swathes of sad fucks still dominate this country, and it makes me want to vomit.

You don’t deserve this. We don’t deserve this.

It will get better, but not until we join the rest of the modern world.

When the butthurt draws a toothbrush and thinks it can win the war

[Warning: this post contains semi-explicit language in the form of proxy swearwords]

So, Aegis had some rather haughty things to say about the Philippines.

But fork that. What amuses me more are these butthurt cretins who’ve taken it to themselves to defend the status of Philippine English over other Asian English dialects. Who the fork said anything bad about the quality of our English, anyway? And why does it even matter?

One comment read:

“Wether [sic] they like it or not, angat ang Pinoy sa English accent, kaya preferred tayo ng BPO ng US at Europe”. (Whether they like it or not, Filipinos are still above the rest when it comes to their English [accents], which is why BPO companies in the US and Europe prefer us.)

The video talks about faulty infrastructure, our unstable climate, even the forking government which we all forking hate, and you choose to bite back with “but I speak better English”? For forking serious? Even if we were, collectively, better English speakers, so the fork what?

And about this accent thing, heaven knows for all these years I’ve worked as a language instructor, I’ve seen and heard far too many of my own pitiful countrymen who are all accent and no syntax. Newsflash: it’s not about the accent; it’s how you use it!

Of course, you don’t need to take my word for it. Let’s hear it from this guy:

“Since when malaysian english is better than Filipino english…???”

Well, since that comment, apparently.

Guys. Pls. Stahp.

From: weknowmemes

From: weknowmemes

I guess, what I’m trying to say is, if you want to win a war, bring artillery and enough ammo. You can’t win a war with a forking toothbrush.

Torn between the feels and le facepalm

Empire State Building lit up in colors of the Philippine flag as skyscraper looks to bring awareness to the plight of Super Typhoon Haiyan victims Read more: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2508251/Empire-State-Building-lit-colors-Philippine-flag-bring-awareness-Typhoon-Haiyan-victims.html#ixzz2kxlCxRUk

Empire State Building lit up in colors of the Philippine flag as skyscraper looks to bring awareness to the plight of Super Typhoon Haiyan victims
Read more: http://dailym.ai/1awVcXP

First of all, thank you. The feels have been nothing short of awesome. It doesn’t matter how “big” or “little” you’ve done compared to what your neighbours have given. We all act according to what we have, so don’t feel bad. Each helping hand deserves the same amount of gratitude. Thank you, humanity. So much feels.

Unfortunately, in spite of all the overwhelming awesome, stupidity persists. I’m not even going to talk about this, this, or this. The news has got those covered well enough. I’m talking about ‘ordinary’ people on social media.

The sanctimonious minding of other people’s business is not awesome

Yes, it can be a touching symbol of solidarity to abstain from non-typhoon relief related matters on social media, but don’t push it. I love symbols–don’t get me wrong–but we shouldn’t be confusing the symbols for the actual goals. The goal here is to help out. If you decide to fast on instagramming or taking a ridiculous number of ‘selfies’ a day whilst helping out, that’s perfectly fine and good. Remember that your goal is to help out and not changing your profile picture into a map of the Philippines. So, there’s no need to go about being an arsehole by telling people they should do what you’re doing, too. Let them decide on the symbols they want to carry. Besides, who says you can’t help out and enjoy the rest of your day in some other way?

On a similar note, there is no need to apologise for posting non-relief related matters for reasons already mentioned. If anyone tries to stop you, kick their arse. You’re allowed to live your own life. Again, you can help out as much as you can without denying yourself a life outside helping out (but you are certainly free to do so if you wish, Gods bless you).

Resilience and the greatest nation in the world

Filipinos are a resilient people, we know that. I hate that we have to constantly bug the world with a ‘selfie of resilience’. They know, we know, let’s get some work done. Yes, we’ve been dirt poor for decades, butt-raped by imperialists for centuries, and battered by typhoons for much, much longer–and yet, here we are despite all that. But this “resilience” has more to do with human nature than our ethnic makeup, really. I’m not sure if “Pinoy Pride” actually helps feed the hungry, to be honest. I bet it’s good old human altruism, nothing less.

Yes, resilience is an admirable trait, but if we really want to actually live, we should be banking on other values, too. I don’t know, maybe a thirst for knowledge? Disaster preparedness? Indignation? An actual cohesive identity? There are a million other things to live by alongside resilience, because that alone isn’t going to transform us into better people.

Shut up and help

It goes without saying that criticism and humanitarian work are not mutually exclusive. For one, if there’s something wrong, you need to say it. You need to point it out, so it can get fixed if necessary. That’s certainly one way of helping out clear the rubble, and you can certainly do both.

The theology of natural calamities

Anyone who’s been saying the storm was a heaven-sent opportunity for the world to know that the Filipino is strong, that humanity is one (etc.) deserves to get their arse kicked. That we are helping out each other is a response to the calamity. The calamity didn’t happen that so we can help out. Trust this animist when he says that storm-gods don’t do that shit. If you don’t trust me, there’s always science to point that out for you. It’s not a hurricane’s business to check on who needs the most reminding if they’ve been naughty or nice.

Speaking of ‘facepalming’ beliefs, there’s also the “prayer is the best/only thing we should depend on“. Erm, no. Prayers are really nice things to have (I should know!), but you can’t buy food with prayers. I really wish they could, but they can’t. Prayers can be a great way to start up a mood or move someone to action, but they can’t actually move mountains. Sorry, but I’d rather have inconvenient truths over inspiring lies, and you’re talking to a devotee of a dozen gods.

Well, I think that’s about it. I certainly don’t hope to write some more. I don’t enjoy ranting, but thoughts are better said than tucked away. Now, shall we return to work and make more awesome feels?

After Haiyan/Yolanda

By now, I’m sure the whole world knows what hit the Philippines last week: just one of the craziest typhoons in recorded history.

It’s heartwarming to receive messages of concern from friends abroad, and I’m thankful(?) that my hometown was hardly hit. Sadly, other parts of the country weren’t so “lucky”. (And that’s all that’s saved us, really–geography–not divine providence.) Over 10,000 people are feared to be dead or missing. We get hit by typhoons every year, but not like this. It’s feared to get worse as the effects of climate change increase, but that’s a discussion for another day.

It’s so heartbreaking that I’m still at a loss for words. I can’t even describe my own grief. (Despite this, others are being total morons.)

I’m leaving this space in memory of all who perished, their mourning kinsmen, and the countless others still missing. The human spirit is resilient–regardless of nationality or ethnicity–and prayers can be a great comfort, but right now, nothing can be more helpful than food, clean water, medicine, and dry clothing. I wish I could give more, but at the moment, this is how I can help. We should all help in whatever way that we can.

Here are some ways how:

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Proper use of Twitter, Facebook hashtags regarding #YolandaPH" via justinpaolo (instagram.com/p/ghlDhOJWjH)

“Proper use of Twitter, Facebook hashtags regarding #YolandaPH” via justinpaolo (instagram.com/p/ghlDhOJWjH)

You can also find a great deal of ways to help here:

You may also enquire on how to help where you live. Canada’s Red Cross/Croix Rouge makes itself available for Canadians who’d like to offer their assistance. I’m sure other countries are doing the same, too.

Thanks ever so much for taking time to read this!

Related reading:

I feel I need to get this out of my chest before I explode

I want out. I need to go. I don’t belong here.

It’s not just the corruption. It’s not just the dumbfucks and the butthurts and the pollution and the prevailing culture of hypocrisy, mediocrity, and bore. You’ll find those anywhere. It’s not because I’m going through a quarter-life crisis right now and listening to Patrick Watson (though the feeling has certainly intensified as a result).

It’s because I don’t belong here–I’ve never belonged here, even as a young boy. Perhaps it’s my Western heritage talking or perhaps it’s mostly me, I’m not sure. But, it’s the recurring sadness, the feeling of being the oddball, being alone, the feeling of not “belonging” that gets to me … deep, deep within me. It’s the feeling of helplessness, being restless, the feeling of not being appreciated (or meaningless appreciation if appreciated at all), and the feeling that I’ll never get anywhere if I stay.

This place feels like exile and I’m just waiting for the right time to return somewhere else. It’s like my brain isn’t synced to this place. I just want to go home. I mean, I am home. I love the feeling of physically staying here in our house with my family, but that feeling withers away when I walk out through the door. It feels like I’m in a foreign country outside. I need to feel at home even when I’m on the bus, at work, or at a café. (Don’t we all?)

My friends ask me if I could find it in my heart to be happy here. I am happy. I’m always generally happy and thankful. I’m happy to be with my family. No offence, but at least I’m not in Afghanistan or North Korea. I don’t have to deal with the Taliban or dictators. I’m actually in a pretty good place. My rights are protected; people can’t stone me for homosexuality or polyamory. Life is generally cheap and I could get a job with my English anytime.

But, the truth is, I could be a lot happier. I could better chase my dreams somewhere else. I actually could live my dreams somewhere else. I just don’t see that happening here. I never did.

What do I really want? Well, I want foliage; red, orange, and amber. I want to pick apples. I want to make apple pie from the apples I pick. I want to stomp on grapes. I want to walk under an oak tree. I want to climb an oak tree. I want to walk through fields of lavender. I want to pick and smell the lavender. I want a white Christmas and make a real wreath. I want to put up holiday decorations that actually mean something. I want to bake bread. I want to make cheese. I want to dance. I want to dance with actual people who know that Irish hardshoe isn’t tap dancing. I want to meet other Pagans, serious ones. I want to teach Linguistics or Ancient History in a university where people take learning seriously–where flipping through history books is their passion–and not just a place to get a degree and work an 8-hour job, marry, have kids, dream of buying a car, dream of buying a house, and retire at 60 (possibly with neither car nor house). I don’t want that, but that’s exactly what people expect you to aim for here. Not that I care what other people think … My family supports me and that’s all that matters, but there’s so few of us here and so many of them out there.

I want people who have burning passions and can fight for them. I want fierceness in conviction not a shrug. I want to pick apples, bake bread, and be a professor. You could never do that here. If I wanted to live as a farmer, I’d have to give up blogging because there’s no way I can make pay Internet bills from digging up earth. Farmers are practically serfs here and teachers don’t get a lot of credit, either.

I’m a brilliant young man, modesty aside, and full of hope and love for the world and her gods. I need a place that can see and appreciate that–truly appreciate how valuable a person who knows how to map human migration patterns with his eyes closed, write in 10 different writing systems, and read in 24 accents. I need a country that can take me in, foster my unique talents, and not just send me off to another country to be someone else’s serf.

Some people say I’ve idealised certain countries because of this. Well, at least, I can do that and not lie to myself, not by much. My father knew all this. He wanted to get us all out, too. I was so excited when he told me. We were all so excited … That didn’t happen, needless to say, but I think it’s about time I start working on that again.

Some people might say I shouldn’t ask what my country can do for me blah-blah what I can do for my country blah-blah. I am doing a good job at that, I think. I’m a very good citizen; I pay taxes, I don’t break any laws, I use the pedestrian crossing 99% of the time, I don’t kick stray animals in the face, I treat people fairly, I don’t treat the pavements as my personal urinal or bin, I involve myself in national issues when I have to, and I try not to add up to the mess. What does this country do? Steal my money, so stinking politicians can have holidays abroad and spoil their brats. They can’t even give you a decent education without taking away your life savings.

I could never dream of leaving my family behind, so I stay until I can take them with me. That and because I don’t exactly have enough cash for a plane ticket right now.

I’ve always belonged to my family. Home is where they are and home is where I’ll stay. I just hope I get to take us somewhere else where home extends to the rest of the country.

Gods help me.

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