Monday, December 29, 2008

When Casual Becomes Derogatory

Yesterday, I was moved (in a sad, bad way) by three different people who regarded homosexuals/ gays as people who are..lesser than human beings. Here are the different encounters:

Encounter # 1:

I was waiting for someone who purchased the gift items I sell online. My customer was a lesbian. She was running really late and someone who wanted to have dinner with me was getting pissed because I was also running late. And then my friend said, “Niabot na ang tomboy? Buang na tomboy dugayan kaayo, madamay ta.” (Did the dyke already arrive? Crazy dyke, she’s delaying us.)

Encounter # 2:

I haven’t heard from Carlisse* for a long time and when I ran into Bryan*, I asked how Carlisse was doing. (They’re childhood friends.)
Me: How is Carlisse? Is she using a new number? She didn’t reply to the Christmas greetings I SMS-ed her.
Bryan: Oh, nothing’s new about her. She’s still the same old tibo (lesbian) that she is.
And then Bryan snickered.

Encounter # 3:

We’ll this wasn’t an exchange really. I just heard a song from Katy Perry, a new artist, someone who’s tagged by most music reviewers as “sassy and cool”. The lines of the song are:

You don’t eat meat
And drive electrical cars
You’re so indie rock it’s almost an art
You need SPF 45 just to stay alive
You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys

For every encounter, I got startled. Disturbed, even. If you examine all the encounters, you will notice that the word “gay” or any other term that pertains to a homosexual was used a derogatory term. Well, it may not be intended, really, to malign a person or a subculture but it was derogatory. In fact, if you review the way the gay words were used, add a little angst to the tone and you’ve got something that stands at the same stage with “piece of sh*t” or “freak of nature”.

Something that’s casually derogatory is, for me, the worst form of discrimination. It is the kind of oppression that seeps through one’s bones and is being imprinted at the discriminator’s soul. Sure, it may not hurl hurting words in loud voices and finger-pointing but it hurts the minority all the more. The thing with this form of subtlety is that it defines the heart of discrimination—privilege presumption. Discrimination doesn’t really have a purpose; most people discriminate without intending to, without thought, without reason. Discrimination happens because people think they can get away with it. People think it’s a privilege and they know that it’s “acceptable”. And this mindset is dangerous, when it snowballs, because it normalizes discrimination.

It’s just like jaywalking in Davao. People don’t just wake up and tell themselves “Oh I feel like I want to jaywalk today!” People jaywalk because they know they can do it and subsequently get away with it.

See how far casual could go? And I thought “casual” was a fashion theme. Bah. Tell me what you think.

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