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Ampatuan trim

LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph T. Gonzales (The Freeman) - June 13, 2021 - 12:00am

It turns out we not only have to be afraid of massacres happening in Ampatuan, but recently, we found out we also have to hold on to our coiffed hairstyles. At least, that’s the press release in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

An unceremonious shaving of residents’ locks, all of the LGBTQ+, was committed by, according to news reports, other residents of the area. Whether or not these residents were from the government, or Shariah officials of some kind, hasn’t been clarified.

The purported reason for this incident? It was allegedly because the residents believed that being gay or lesbian was against the Muslim religion, and hence, the shorning of locks was meant to enforce that proscription. In turn, whether or not, the razor-wielding goons were religious authorities or mere faithful, has likewise not been clarified.

It is unclear how having a bald head will enforce heterosexual prescriptions: I can name many bald personalities who are spectacularly queer. Perhaps, for the Ampatuan town residents, possession of long hair signals some secret message to the casual observer that there is a delicious sexual secret lurking in the midst of those tresses?

DXMS Radyo Bida, the news outlet that carried the story, reportedly deleted its social media post after being retweeted and posted on multiple LGBTQ+ platforms. There are no further details to be mined from Google. However, different queer organizations like UP Babaylan and Mindanao Pride have already denounced the news, and asked the Commission on Human Rights to investigate.

Which is really the next step to take, since we don’t know if government authorities perpetuated this humiliation. If it were just private individuals, then the newly-shaved offended might only be able to seek redress from the courts in a private action (or perhaps, a criminal case for the laying of hands and the offensive behavior?). But nonetheless, the CHR might not have jurisdiction over the unfortunate events.

The CHR website shows no press release as yet relating to the disturbing news. Perhaps, an investigation is still ongoing, so we must wait and let the esteemed Commissioner Chico Gascon (still adorable forty years away from his university days) proceed with all deliberate dispatch before we unleash banshee screams at the perpetrators.

But that this incident can occur in 2021 is very much evidence of how, even if we think this country is so progressive and “tolerant” of LGBTQ+ rights, there will always be pockets and crevices of ignorance, disrespect, and even violence towards the community. So the goal must always be to remain vigilant, and to press towards continued respect for the freedoms and rights that are so casually available to the LGBTQ+ youth, not realizing that twenty, thirty years ago, the urgent conversations that were held resulted in freedoms abundantly available today.

Celebrate that we have June Pride in this modern day and age, where corporate behemoths like JP Morgan can so casually light their IT Park headquarters in rainbow pride colors. No community outrage, no condemnation. Instead, the community enjoys acceptance.

While a major leap beyond what existed before, this isn’t the norm for other areas in the country (let’s conveniently name-shame “Ampatuan” again). And each one of the community has to play its part in constantly, unceasingly nurturing this hard-won acceptance and visibility, because really, all it might take is one wrong president elected (let’s conveniently name drop Trump and others of his ilk here) for lives to turn upside-down in one snap. Not only would we then lose our mullet, but all the freedoms that we so unthinkingly enjoy.

Last year, around this time, 20 brave souls were arrested in a Pride March organized in the middle of a pandemic. All of those marchers have already been released, and their criminal case for illegal assembly dismissed. But this just goes to show that the fight is hardly over. Razor-wielding haters might just be around the corner.

trillana@yahoo.com

AMPATUAN
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