Ever since when we were young, we were told that girls should like boys and vice versa. Girls are supposed to be attracted to boys and that boys should only chase women. That’s just the natural order of things. After all, God only made Adam and Eve — not Adam, Eve and Steve. We have been raised to think that loving someone of the same gender is not acceptable — that being gay is unacceptable. Most parents would like to dismiss the idea of their child being gay. Most of us may have been told that being gay is wrong. Being gay is not what God wants. Being gay is a sin. Being gay is just a phase. Being gay is not normal.
Hi, I’m Ellen, your gay cousin.
Let’s be honest here: Every family has that one gay cousin. If you don’t have a gay cousin, you probably are that gay cousin. Don’t be surprised, being gay isn’t something new; it’s as old as the Bible itself. A lot of people are gay. However, most of them — and even some of those you know — are back there in the closet. I’m here today to speak for those who are back there and for those who are already out.
As someone who has been a Carolinian for the past four years, it’s easy to say that I have gone through those four years in hiding. Let’s just say that my doors are open, but I chose to stay inside most of the time. It’s not that I don’t accept who I am. It’s just that there is that fear that once I decide to go out and lock the doors behind me, I won’t feel safe anymore.
When I first stepped into this university, I thought of how welcoming the atmosphere was at first, but there was something that bothered me for most of my stay here — the homophobia. I was never comfortable with the people that I was with. My classmates never seemed to be open with the idea. I never once discussed anything to them hinting that I wasn’t straight. The thought of homosexual people was something unpleasant for them, so I just pretended.
Let’s be honest here: For the gay/bisexual men out there, people tend to tolerate you more than us lesbian/bisexual women. In the Philippines, majority of the people do not accept the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, but there are some that tolerate them. If you are a respectable gay celebrity like Vice Ganda, then you might consider that you’re in a lucky position because a lot of people think you are great. For the rest of us, however, it’s quite frustrating. Acceptance and tolerance are two very different things. Remember when my best friend Charice decided to come out and how everyone reacted? Oh my, where do I even begin?
Being gay is not a disease. It is not infectious. It is not even a phase. If you are really straight, then you are completely straight. It is as simple as that. However, if you are gay, it is a different story. Everything would be so much better for me if I were only straight. If only I was attracted to only men then I would have no problem with that, but I am not. I knew from the very beginning that I found other girls attractive.
Imagine going through countless religious education classes, with your teacher having to remind you of what is right and wrong. Trying to keep yourself sane and keeping your conscience under control every day for an hour and a half burns a lot of energy. I acknowledge the fact that I am in a Catholic university and the kind of environment it tries to have with its students and teachers, but I’m really uncomfortable with this setting. There have been several instances where I just wanted to transfer schools because of this unsettling feeling that I will never be accepted in this kind of community, that there’s no room for someone like me in this university. I could not open up to anyone about this. My parents would definitely disown me and my friends may not talk to me ever again. It gets tiring when you decide to sacrifice your own happiness just so you can keep the trust and respect that your loved ones have for you.
I was an honor student in high school. I was even athletic and was part of my school’s varsity volleyball team. When I got into college, I tried my best to keep my achievements consistent. My family had pride in me and my friends supported me, but that was until I decided to come out and everything just went down the drain. “Sayang.” “You bring us shame.” “You’re a disappointment.” Those were the words that were enough to kill me right then and there. Have I done anything wrong? I haven’t stolen anything or murdered anyone. They say it’s a sin, but I’m trying not to lie anymore. I’m still the same person that I was five minutes ago.
At some point though, I was able to meet other Carolinians like me — Carolinians who knew how cold and lonely it is staying inside the closet. There is this comforting feeling when you find out that there are people who share the same fears with you. It gives you that reassurance that you are not the only one who’s struggling. Eventually, I was more open about myself and began to accept myself better because of the company that I was with. I finally felt happy again after a long time.
Let’s be honest here: The stereotypes and the discrimination will always be present. Despite our preferences, we are still people too. We are still the same persons and there are more of us out there than you think. I may be that quiet student who sits at the back during your economics class. I may be that girl who eats alone in the canteen. I may be your loud teammate in volleyball. I may be the president of a certain organization. I may be your best friend. I may be your sister as well. I may also be a Carolinian.
We dream that one day, the LGBT community would be recognized and be treated equally. We dream that one day, we could walk around these halls without any threat imposed against us. We dream that we would be accepted for who we are.
Do we fall in love with another person because of gender? Let’s be honest here.