Saturday, June 18, 2005

pink words

I just found out today that Manny Marinay, in an article for ABC-CBN Interactive, reprinted some quotes from J. Neil Garcia's book Bongga ka ’day!, a collection of quotes to live by, from "a survival kit for embattled gays who shall henceforth never again be tongue-tied by ignorant or pesky questions about their sexuality."

One of my early plays, Short Time, is quoted, along with nuggets from Butch Dalisay, Orlando Nandes , Danton Remoto and a whole slew of other writers who have written about the subject matter, as well as cultural icons like Nora Aunor and Jose Rizal. Short Time won a Palanca Award in 1991, and has been staged several times since then, including a guerilla-style staging (unknown to me at the time).

If there is one thing that irks me most about people, it is their capacity to condemn other people because they are different. I will always stand against that. I have a number of gay friends (in and out of the closet) who are wonderful people, talented individuals whose mere existence make this world a far better place. I work with them to produce comics and stories, to research and create plays and novels. I also work with them on daily basis in my own businesses, which I'm happy to say, is gender-blind. I've employed and continue to employ gay men and women and see no issues with their chosen lifestyle (though I must confess that less frequent exposure to gay women has contributed to much of my ignorance about them - I wanted to write a lesbian play but was stymied when the only bar I knew they frequented in Malate closed, leaving me with no other place to go and talk to them).

The sexual preference of people should not determine how we act towards them. As a married man and father, I believe that everyone is worthy of respect - my own sexuality is not threatened by my friendship with gay men. That's like saying you don't want to hang out with African-Americans because you're afraid your skin will turn dark. It is a horribly misguided opinion perpetuated out of fear and ignorance by people whose intolerant culture/ tradition/ religion dominates the land.

Their stories and lives are not hideous or terrible things that should be ignored or swept under the rug. One of my brothers is gay - and that doesn't change how much I care for him. If our friendship with gay men marks Nikki and myself as gay sympathizers, then it is a badge we are proud to wear. I can only hope that we impart to our daughter the same manner of open-mindedness that we live and espouse.

Personally, I find a lot of gay men more creative, talented, interesting, funny, witty, intelligent, driven, motivated, caring and complex than a lot of the straight people I know. Just like any other person, they have the potential to be good role models - not because they're gay, but because they're good individuals.

At the core of things, we are all people, straight or gay, and share the intricacies and banalities of the human condition. There are many other more important matters to worry about - from the failure of government to how we pay for the next meal - than growing livid with the discovery that some guy you know likes to sleep with other men.


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