Save 20% off! Join our newsletter and get 20% off right away!

Breaking One’s Silence

Pope FrancisIn 1995 Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey of the United States House of Representatives called Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts “Barney Fag” during an interview.

When confronted about it, Armey apologized to the liberal representative and explained that his comment was a slip of the tongue.

Although Frank, a known gay legislator accepted Armey’s apology, he added, “I just had to believe that it was somewhere in the back of his mind.”

Frank was absolutely right.

In many parts of the world, including the Philippines, there are still some people who suffer from homophobia – the irrational fear and hatred of those who love and sexually desire those of the same sex. These people are so intolerant.  They cannot accept differences in sexual orientations.

In my lifetime, I have witnessed worse things happen to lesbian and gay people: beatings, loss of employment, social isolation, rape, and even death.

The recent post on Facebook made by Bicol Mail columnist and my compadre, Dr. Chito Perez,  about his son, Nino, who recently came out of the closet by admitting he is gay, is both a surprise and a good sign of things to come.

I was surprised because it never occurred to me that my compadre has a son who is gay. Probably he did not want to talk about it given the sexual morality at play in the Catholic Church or in a place like Naga City. Probably, out of respect for his son, he waited for the most opportune time to reveal his sexual identity and that time was a couple of weeks ago.

What Nino did was a good sign because it bodes well of things to come. Nino made a powerful statement that he does not want to lie because of fear.  He made a giant step forward not to be invisible anymore.  He finally made known to his family, to his friends and to the community that he does not want to live a double life.  He has  made it public that his sexual identity is a viable, legitimate and just as normal as heterosexual identity. He is finally free.

With the exception of Bong who is my godson and married to my niece Hannah, I don’t know my compadre’s children at all. With Nino breaking his silence, I now know someone in the family who is a man of courage. I salute him for having the guts to tell his story.  It is said that when Nazi Germany was developing the concentration camps, the public silence was deafening. With Nino’s breaking his silence, he is saying to everyone that a particular sexual identity is not an indicator of either good or evil.  As the American Psychological Association once declared, it is no more abnormal to be homosexual than to be left-handed.

On his way to the Vatican from his recent trip from Brazil, Pope Francis was asked about a monsignor who reportedly once had a gay lover. “Who am I to judge?” he replied when it comes to the sexual orientation of priests, as long as they are searching for God and have good will.

With his statement, Pope Francis sounds more of a reconciler than most of the nuns and priests I know. He empathizes with the misunderstood.  He preaches inclusion of those who are marginalized like the gays and lesbians

So to Nino, I say (with apology to Pope Francis): Who am I to judge you?