Sunday, February 26, 2012

Peace In Our Time




Disclaimer: A reply to Shane's letter to Manila Gay Guy.


A year before my homosexual urges were recognized, a group of curious and closeted men banded together on MIRC. At a time when there was no real concept of "straight-acting gay men," they drew the line between the effeminates and masculines. The common belief then was that the effeminates turn discreets into fairies, and the only way to stop such conversions is to keep the loud types from joining the brotherhood. 

And so their recruitment process required intense screening. Any hint of feminine behavior; any chance of compromising the complex masquerades these closeted men apply and your application is revoked.

I was 20 years old at that time and still a newcomer. Though I was already exposed to the different hues of the "rainbow" because of the grand eyeball, I haven't met a group I can totally relate. Then all of a sudden, I met one of the founders of the brotherhood. Since we speak the same language and share common interests, he asked me to join.

The interview was easy. Turned out, I was more butch than some of the founding members. I was into alternative music, I was a jeans-and-shirt guy and, most of all, my barkada were all guys-who-speak-basketball-and-sexy-chicks-all-the-time. I didn't have to modulate my voice, or pretend to be someone else. I was straight-acting who likes boys.

I became a member, together with a dozen of other applicants who passed the screening. We were elated of course, because our entry to the brotherhood was our vindication. But what we didn't know was that a rift had already begun. A faction broke off from the brotherhood. They said the brotherhood was a purist and that, their ideals will never work in the long run. The brotherhood simply dismissed them as losers.

Thus, the effem-masculine divide grew into a full-scale discrimination. And there were many fronts. Every online forum, every dating and chat site has someone claiming he's discreet, straight-acting-bisexual-tripper who looks down on loud and effeminate guys. The forsaken ones were forced into embracing the "bisexual" label. So harsh was the discrimination that there was a time when those who called themselves bi's were immediately identified as fairies.

"Real bisexuals never have labels. They just trip." I once quipped.

The local gay scene was still in its infancy. The gays ahead of us had no idea that men who act straight could actually get attracted to someone who act the same. Queer as Folk made us realize some of our deepest flaws and longings, and while the "war" rages on, with each new generation of newbies claiming superiority over the effeminates, some of the straight-acting ones - the guys who actually started the divide were turning 180 degrees. They too had recognized the truth. 

The effeminates and masculines could co-exist.

Of course, there are grey areas, which no expert can resolve. One is preference. Straight-acting and discreet men will always feel comfortable going-out, sleeping around and dating their kind. It's a force of attraction; the same reason why some men have this fondness for twinks, others for big daddies, and for someone in my pack, has a certain liking for girly types. 

Second is that there are gay men who will prefer hiding in the closet. Some families and co-workers are not as accepting as others. Some gays (mostly the ones from my generation) still bear the "parlorista" stigma; this impression that people look down on men who likes men. No amount of convincing would encourage them to come out. It is best to leave them in peace. 

Third is that love blooms between fairies and butches. A loud co-worker is in fact, in a relationship with a guy. Someone who drops labels and takes things as they are. They celebrated their seventh anniversary last year. His gang of fairies would even claim that their market is far bigger than ours. Unfortunately, the love they enjoy - most to them, that is - involve monetary trade-offs.

But there will always be exceptions. 

More than a decade had passed since the "bitter divide" started, and the ones who pushed it first had somehow outgrew their purist tendencies. The last time I've checked, they were in the process of making peace with themselves. Even those who used to express strong dislike for effeminates eventually befriended them. I personally know some, and their transformation still amazes me. 

And for this reason, I believe the war has ended. I've seen straight-acting men getting along with effeminates, and effeminates having relationships with masculines. If there's any indication of how far we've come, the social media are our best bets. Just look at the DPs of some guys there. During my time, showing one's identity hint at being out and proud. Now it has become a practice for young ones to show their face pic when expressing their fondness for someone.

May this entry able to shed light to the age-old subject, while sharing a glimpse of history the way we lived it. Looking back, I think, the divide was necessary for us to learn. So we can start working together - effeminates and masculines in solving the more pressing concerns of the entire community. And while there would always be men who will exhaust all efforts to avoid effeminate association, as time would reveal, one must embrace the changes as he grows older. In the end, the straight-acting adopts a little, or at least follows to some degree, the ways of the effeminate.

Never in our history have we been so open; so accepting of the other as we are now. I don't know how old the letter sender is, but coming from the front lines, I still believe that it is far easier to make friends and find dates today than when our online lives began ten years ago.



* Asked some friends on Twitter if the phrase "no effems please" still rings on Planet Romeo and Grindr. (I have none) The consensus is yes. Apparently, people still brush aside one another even when they go to the same party places (O-Bar, Palawan) listen to the same music (Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna) and watch the same TV shows (America's Next Top Model, Glee). Fox, of the Encantos even say that those who discriminate are effems themselves.  



21 comments:

kirsh said...

Mugen, like it or not, straight-acting gay men have "higher market value" and there are people who would try to emulate the identity to become more attractive. While my blood still boils (in the oh-so-good way) for really straight-acting gay men, I've found myself looking for feminine qualities in men and find them endearing. However, there is only so much femininity that I could categorize as attractive. That being said, I do not have any problems hanging out with people from the different hues of the rainbow though I would still gravitate towards people who have the same experiences and struggles that I have. Moreover, I can choose which qualities to find in the person I'd like to sleep with. It's preference, not discrimination.

Mugen said...

Kirsh:

Hoy, kagabi lang kainuman kita ah! Who gave you my link? Lol.

"One is preference. Straight-acting and discreet men will always feel comfortable going-out, sleeping around and dating their kind. It's a force of attraction; the same reason why some men have this fondness for twinks, others for big daddies, and for someone in my pack, has a certain liking for girly types. "

kirsh said...

Your blogs are easily searchable if you know how to. ;)
Nahirapan lang ako i-figure out who's who but I eventually got it. Say hi to fox, pilyo, mahrk, nishi, popoy, rocco and the rest of the engkantos for me. :)

Justin said...

Thanks for taking us back in time. I think I was still in highschool during the popularity of MIRC chatrooms.

For someone like me who's still coming to terms with my sexuality, I prefer to be in the company of straight-acting and discreet men. I feel that they are the ones who could relate to my story and my dilemma.

kirsh said...

Wala nga pala dun si Mahrk. Lol. My mistake.

bien said...

Hail the Muscle Mary
The love child of the butch and the effem haha


shane raised some valid points.
bottomline, it's preference.

Mugen said...

Kirsh:

Will tell. Have this feeling your online presence would become more frequent. Haha! Goodmorning kapatid!

Justin:

Coming into terms take time. Don't force yourself to recognize what you're not prepare to accept.

Bien:

We only understood it was preference very recently. Some still don't get it.

daniel the jagged little egg said...

Sis' I don't believe in the "Bi" Word. : )
Gay kung gay yun na yun hehe. Love this post : )

kirsh said...

Bisexuality does exist. It's just been abused by some to "lessen" the stigma attached to being gay. While it's true that some bisexuals tend to lean to one side of preference, it's wrong to assume that such duality in sexual desires are temporary or even pretentious. We are the LGBT community. I think by now we should learn to acknowledge the fact that there are different colors in our rainbow.

Anonymous said...

A straight-forward question: Aren't you, in a way, discriminating whenever you proclaim that the most important quality an aspiring Encanto must possess is that he has to be "straight acting/discreet?" Anyway, it's just a thought.
.
.
The "bitter divide" only proves the undying culture of machismo in this third world and that the pink world is no innocent to it. I think it's pathetic that gays campaign for acceptance and yet we can't seem to accept those who are within our very own circle.

-Désolé Boy

^travis said...

this is good enough a topic to turn into the subject of a book. i challenge you. kayang kaya mo un.

Guyrony said...

In more ways we could think of, the whole social scene has really opened up on different levels of homosexuality.

We should be thankful for that.

And so with this in mind, we perhaps can be instruments of closing gaps between ourselves, straight-acting to effeminates alike.

"Everyone looks alike when the lights are closed." - Cee Lo Green

Mugen said...

Guyrony:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven

=)

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Travis:

You think the subject could still be expounded?

DBoy:

A straight answer: the proclamation was unsanctioned. That's why nobody took it seriously.

Kirsh:

Bisexuals are indeed discriminated. I'm partially guilty of it.

Jerson:

Nasanay ka lang na ganun ang excuse sa iyo. Heheh.

Garpppy Garp said...

Speaking from experience, and you know how I became a part of so many groups of PLUs, one of the reasons why I felt at home with Odders was because of the openness. Some of our friends were slightly effeminates but it was okay because we had a lot of laughs and good clean fun when the group was active.

As much as I wanted the group to last for a long time, I think the breakup between me and you-know-who eventually broke us up--and it made all of us realize that in the big group, we are actually comfortable only with only a few. I guess it makes sense that you, Rocco, Kirsh and I sort of understand each other because we found each other first and we naturally blend well together. When the other Odders came, it was a welcome thing to see new people but eventually, we saw that we could just exist even if we don't see them often.

Regarding effem vs straight-acting, I echo the first reply of Kirsh. The rainbow flag of the LGBT is varied in its colors yet should be united and proud. That's the only way that the others would find our beauty and worth.

Mugen said...

Garpppy:

Remember why we broke off from Alien Nation diba? Same reason, we were more accepting and as a result, we've become fab and koboy at the same time. Lol.

Garpppy Garp said...

Fab and koboy! Apir! :D

jetlander said...

Kaya ako natakot makipag meet sa PEx groups dahil sa mga labels na yan, straight acting and effem...

kirsh said...

Garppp! Di ako maka-comment sa blog mo! Sabihin ko na lang sayo next time tayong magkita.

the green breaker said...

the straight-acting vs effems is still on the works kaya.. pero dapat wala ng away away if bet mo ang straight-acting gow! just a matter of preference. well expounded topic kuya. bow!

Leo said...

Great post. Looking back, there's just much acceptance now, compared 10 years ago.

To DB's point, mawala na sana talaga ng tuluyan yang "bitter divide."

Karlie Bradshaw said...

This is a very insightful post. Anyone who wants to know about the social dynamics of a gay community must read this. Nice one, Mugen! :)