Who are you to judge?
I NEVER chose to be gay. In fact, I had been fighting it for almost a decade. I broke friendships out of fear and loathing that I could be one of them.
And then, when I finally realized I could no longer suffocate myself within the thick walls of denial, I put up; I accepted who I really am. Now there’s this politician who preaches like he’s some sort of God-appointed messiah condemning my existence, and he says that I am abominable. That I am a sin walking on two legs. That I am worse than animals.
Well, to the preacher by night, boxer by day, and congressman out of sheer luck, I do not condemn you. I do not abhor your existence on the soil I was born to. I do not even seek to criticize the many absences you have incurred in the House or Representatives.
I am a human born under the oath to do good in this world, to not hold a grudge against those who will seek to destroy my values, and to always seek a better understanding of things that challenge my principles. I dare not say that I am better than you, for you might have only been misguided, misinformed or just unperceptive. But you insulted the very book that had nourished my values since I was young. You insulted the man and woman who had instilled in me the right to live, love and be respected. You judged inadequate the friendships I have earned from accepting each person’s individuality and, therefore, differences.
Perhaps you do not have the capacity to understand all these. Perhaps you chose to attach the foulest word to the already negative stigma of the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) community because negative publicity is still publicity, after all. You are entitled to your opinion. But you have propagated judgment of a community too complex for anyone like you to understand. And we did not ask for that. We did not ask for one of the famous Filipino icons in this century to compare us to animals solely because animals are much better at knowing who to partner and procreate with.
Do you know what it’s like to have all your belongings taken from you because the union between you and your deceased partner of 25 years is not legally recognized in this country? Do you know the inner struggle an adolescent endures in accepting his sexuality when his dad condemns the “gay lifestyle” every dinner time? Did you ever, for a second (before you delivered the most asinine, tactless remarks in your career), ask your assistant to verify if animals indeed do not practice homosexuality? I bet your science teacher would not be so proud of you.
What you said is indeed most unfortunate for me. I had the chance to sit a few seats away from you back when you had just won your second major boxing world title, the IBF Super Bantamweight. I was 12, still young, but I was already confounded by my intense crush on a fellow female student. You were quite modest and self-deprecating for a celebrity. It was humbling to have met you back when you were still not pressured to seek a public post and build your own church.
I held that image of you—a nice guy from Mindanao who carried the banner of the whole Filipino nation and fought for recognition by the international community. Though I am not a fan of the sport, I salute your battles for you united this nation in your winning bouts. But, Manny Pacquiao, I ask of you not to divide this country on such a universal struggle as the fight for LGBTQIA rights. Maybe you are still unaware of your duties as a political figure, an influential icon, or a hero to many of my countrymen. Maybe you are unaware that what you said had caused a ripple in our society, the consequences of which could be devastating especially to members of the LGBTQIA community who look up to you. Or maybe you are just a man who sees only what he wants to see and hears only what he wants to hear. I thought it was futile to hope that you would fight for my right to be recognized in the country I dearly love.
On a final note, I read that you had apologized by saying you were only quoting the Bible. Perhaps you got lost in translating English to Filipino. Even Pope Francis was mindful enough not to judge us. The Pope said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Let me rephrase it for you, Manny. If someone is running for a seat in the Senate and he says that gays are worse than animals, who is he to judge?
Breccia Zerda, 26, French-German, is a financial analyst at FactSet Philippines Inc.
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