THE highest court of the land has finally ruled: Marriage between people of the same sex is now legal in all 50 states of America. In a landmark decision on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court said same-sex marriage cannot be banned in any state of the nation, and married same-sex couples will now be accorded the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples and will be recognized on official documents such as birth and death certificates.
Many Filipinos still do not understand the complexities of the issue surrounding same-sex marriage, let alone what the term LGBTQ, an acronym used in discussing these issues, stands for.
In fact, the common misconception of many kababayans about homosexuals has been limited to what we were told and were exposed to growing up in the Philippines. A gay person — what we call “bakla” or “binabae” in the Philippines — is pictured as a male who acts, talks and dresses like a female. A lesbian, or “tomboy” for many kababayans, is a female deemed to look, dress, talk, and act like a male. These homosexuals are believed to be attracted to people of the same sex.
These views, however, present a very limited understanding of homosexuals in the context of their differences as spelled out in the acronym LGBTQ.
L – “Lesbians” are discussed in many sources as female homosexuals who are attracted to romantically and/or physically to people of the same sex (sexual orientation). The term is also used to describe a person’s sexual identity, who identifies herself as a “he” , even if it has no regard to her sexual orientation.
Females may look every inch like a feminine woman — wearing sexy clothes, high heels and make-up — but are attracted to and have romantic and sexual relationships with only women.
G – “Gays” are males who are attracted to romantically and/or physically to other men (sexual orientation). The term “gay” is also used to describe a person’s identity (identifies himself as a “she”) regardless of sexual orientation.
Here in the United States, many kababayans are surprised to find really macho looking men who are in fact in a romantic and sexual relationship with another man. “Sayang” is the term I often hear Pinays say when they meet these hunks who are gay.
B – “Bisexuals” are men and/or women, who are sexually and/or romantically attracted to either men or women. Some kababayans refer to them as “AC-DC”. Bisexuals can be both homosexuals and heterosexuals in their sexual orientation.
T – “Transgenders” are described, by prominent gay rights group GLAAD, as “people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or someone outside of that gender binary). For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.”
Many transgender people seek to bring their bodies more into alignment with their gender identity. Many are also prescribed hormones by their doctors to change their bodies. Some of them undergo surgeries as well.
Since they identify themselves as males trapped in a woman’s body, and conversely, as females trapped in a man’s body, they dress up, talk, move, and act according to their sexual identity.
Q – “Queer” or “Questioning”
In an article published by USAToday, LGBT rights advocates say the term “queer” is used because it’s not specific to sexual orientation or to gender identity but is more of an umbrella term that can encompass a lot of people. GLAAD says “Queer means that you are one of those letters (LGBT), but you could be all of those letters and not knowing is OK”.
“‘Questioning’ refers someone who is figuring out their gender identity and figuring out how they want to identify their sexual orientation,” GLAAD Director of Programs Ross Murray said in the article.
THE DEBATE on whether or not a person is born gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender continues, with hopes to resolve the issue of whether or not society and institutions like the church, school, family, medical doctors, etc. should attempt to change/punish a person who identifies himself/herself as any of the LGBTQ terms.
BUT EVEN IF this issue get resolved or not, same-sex couples living in America, who choose to get married, are now accorded the same right to marry their same-sex partners in civil marriages, and will now be sure to get all the rights and benefits heterosexual partners enjoy in America, pursuant to the historic Supreme Court ruling.
* * *
Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos