‘Paano kayo dumadami?’ and other questions gay people are asked
Koji Arsua (The Philippine Star) - August 10, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It’s hard enough being gay and dealing with discrimination without having to be bombarded by well-meaning yet offensive questions about their sexuality. This idea of homosexuality is so confusing that some people ask the most random questions, like “Saan ka nagc-cr?” and “Paano kayo dumadami?”

While this may sound innocent to some, it can irk some members of the LGBT community, who feel as if being gay makes them inhuman. Now, to answer back, the UP Babaylan (the country’s first LGBT student organization) has tied up with the UP Center for Women’s Studies to publish ‘Anong Pangalan Mo Sa Gabi?’ at iba pang tanong sa mga LGBT, a coffeetable book featuring the most common questions addressed to the gay community.

“Some are seemingly innocent, some silly, while some are downright insulting,” says Eric Manalastas, deputy director for Research, Publication & Resource Collection at the UP-CWS. The questions reveal the current view of homosexuality in a largely heterosexual and Catholic country: that it is a curiosity or oddity that needs to be explained.

The book idea was conceived in 2012 when the Babaylan started an exhibit with 20 questions. The CWT approached the organization and proposed a book, with even more questions and a chance to answer them. Today, it is a collection of 50 beautifully-shot photos by Rod Singh taken around the UP campus, of LGBT students and alumni. The book is edited by Tetay Mendoza and Joel Acebuche, and the answers are raw, witty and unapologetic.

“(One of the common questions asked), even among students, is in a lesbian or gay relationship, sino ang babae, sino ang lalaki?” shares Manalastas. “As though lesbians and gay men have to be trapped in the same narrow roles and spaces that straight couples have to endure. (Straight Editorial Note: Really?) Whenever I hear this query, I answer, we’re both men. That’s why it’s called a same-sex relationship.”

A good sign

However, Manalastas believes that asking these questions, no matter how offensive, is a good sign. It means that society is trying to accept non-traditional relationships, and is doing so through asking. “Including, unfortunately, the questions that are ignorant, silly or downright prejudiced,” he laments.

No matter how tedious the task, explaining can lead to a more tolerant and accepting future. According to Manalastas, tolerance means people in the majority are comfortable or interested enough to voice out their questions to the minority. And this minority is not limited to the gay stereotypes, but to the entire LGBT spectrum, which is as colorful as the rainbow. It’s no wonder the community adopted it as their universal symbol.

“Being gay is simply one of many healthy, happy forms of human sexuality, love, and relationships” explains Manalastas. In this world where we have more choices, our sexual choices have also grown, and this doesn’t change anything. Gay people still go to the restroom, they have children the same way straight people do, their names at night may be different from their names at day. Ask away, and they will answer for the sake of enlightenment, which is the goal for Anong Pangalan Mo Sa Gabi? But to provide a universal answer to all the questions, gay people do the same things straight people do, they just do it fabulously.”

* * *

Anong Pangalan Mo Sa Gabi? at iba pang tanong sa mga LGBT is available at the UP-CWS library and the University of the Philippines Press bookstore. Tweet the author @kojibberish.

ANONG PANGALAN MO SA GABI ERIC MANALASTAS GAY MANALASTAS PANGALAN MO SA GABI QUESTIONS RESOURCE COLLECTION ROD SINGH STRAIGHT EDITORIAL NOTE TETAY MENDOZA AND JOEL ACEBUCHE
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