By RONALYN V. OLEA
The news of a 19-year old teenager scalded with boiling water by his own father after the latter found out that he is gay proves just how Philippine society remains intolerant, nay, ignorant of the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT).
Even as the father has been charged with physical injury, his son has been forever scarred, literally and figuratively, by the experience of not being accepted for who he is.
The right to be gay, or lesbian or bisexual or transgender is like the right to breathe, to live. The right to sexuality is a human right.
I feel strongly for that teenager because I have many friends who are gays and lesbians. They are not the queer individuals as they are being portrayed in the media. In fact, they are among the best, most talented and most wonderful persons I have met.
I must admit I was also a victim of the feudal and backward culture intolerant of LGBT. During my college days, a friend confessed to me that he is gay. Being a devout Catholic at that time, I told him he should learn to be a man. I only realized my stupidity years later. I never had the opportunity to talk with him again and I am forever sorry. I have hoped he did not listen to me.
My exposure to the LGBT community started when I became involved with the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP). There are many campus journalists who are gays. Slowly, I have been educated. Their being gays or lesbians do not diminish their dignity as humans. They are even more humane and manly (allow me to use this term just this time) than those who live without honor–like retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. or some corrupt politicians.
Through the years, I have counted on many of them during times of need. Two of them were willing to donate blood for my then ailing mother only that both confessed that they are gays and were not deemed as qualified donors. Like my heterosexual friends, my gay friends were there to comfort me and lighten up my otherwise gloomy days. We talk about many things, from the mundane to the most substantial.