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.

Advertisements

Sometimes we forget

This meme is especially popular during Christmas time when people look up to heaven to say grace, but forget to look back down on earth.

When people look up to heaven to say grace, but forget to look back down on earth, there’s something missing, and it’s certainly not #hashtagblessed.

As we leave the old year behind, thanking our gods, stars, ideas, gods and whatnot, let us not forget to thank the people around us. Everything that we have, we have through others, whether it’s that factory worker who packed your macaroni, the grocery boy who worked until late in the evening so you could do your last minute shopping, the dairy farmer who milked several cows for your cream, the fruit picker, the street vendors, or whoever does your cooking for you. Even the food itself–that animal died for you. Nothing is truly ours and ours only, and we are never truly alone. Share and give thanks where it is due.

There’s nothing wrong with thanking the great powers for the things we receive, but thank our peers, too. Sometimes, we look too far back or ahead that we miss what’s happening here and now. May we never forget.

Happy New Year and a joyous Kalends of January! Bienvenue + bienvenida MMXV!

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:

1798769_10152839686003281_5856642952270798080_n

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.

Fuck You, Hit-and-Runners

One second, they’re sitting across you in the jeepney. Next thing you know, they’re lying on the ground, fighting for their lives. The sight stained my eyes. The sound haunted my ears. My heart had broken into many pieces. How quickly things change in a matter of seconds.

White-Flower-Wallpaper-159

Flowers for the couple

They weren’t my friends. I didn’t know them in any meaningful way. They were just a random couple carrying a box full of tomatoes, preparing to start their day at the market. Until they got hit and run over by some mindless prick who didn’t even bother to stop. He was probably under the influence. It was a Friday night/Saturday morning, after all.

You can be the most careful pedestrian in the world and still die on the road because some arsehole decides to drive drunk and ignore their conscience altogether. Fuck you, drunk drivers. Fuck you, hit-and-runners. Fuck you all very much.

don-t-keep-calm-and-fuck-this-fuck-that-fuck-you-fuck-off-4

 

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?

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)