There is a difference between accepting the LGBTQ+ community and using their existence for comedic value. This university pageant where straight men act gay is the latter.
Earlier today, Feb. 20, screenshots of a Manila-based university’s photo album for a pageant called “CriminoloGay 2019” made rounds on Twitter. According to the now-deleted post, it’s the criminology department’s “traditional pageant,” meaning it’s a regular event where students vote for a straight man to win the competition.
Onenetizen noted that it’s been going on for a decade already. As of writing, we haven’t seen any posts about a 2020 pageant.
The LGBTQ+ community is basically being told that heterosexuality and cisgenderism are the only accepted forms of sexual orientation and gender identity. And people are giving straight men a pass for pretending like they’re gay for a pageant?
We understand that gender is a construct and men—regardless if they’re straight or gay—are allowed towear makeup and be feminine if they want to. But when they are required to act gay to win a competition, it comes off as them using gayness for comedic value. CriminoloGay doesn’t normalize gayness, it trivializes the LGBTQ+ community’s experiences and perpetuates the idea that they only exist for our entertainment. We already have way too many local films and shows that cast gay people (or people who act gay) for this purpose and it’s not okay.
Gayness is not like a costume that you can put on and take off whenever you want. When LGBTQ+ people express themselves, they are ridiculed and asked to tone it down because it’s not socially acceptable. You can argue that the Philippines is one of the most LGBTQ+ community-friendly countries, but we believe that Filipinos merely tolerate their existence. We don’t even have a national anti-discrimination law in place yet.
Pageants like this might also make it more difficult for people to trust the LGBTQ+ community. Trans women, for example, are already being accused of being straight men in dresses who enter female restrooms to creep on other women. Some of you may not find the event offensive, but you have to think about how it will affect LGBTQ+ people’s lives.
Lastly, we want to hold the university, not just the criminology department, accountable for allowing CriminoloGay to exist. If the intention was to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity within the campus, then just hold an event where gay, lesbian and/or trans students can be given a voice.
The reality is we can’t have inclusivity if LGBTQ+ people are still seen as caricatures instead of human beings. Straight people, especially men, can be better allies by not using gayness and everything in between for their own benefit. They are already privileged to live in a world without worrying about their safety or being discriminated against for their existence.
Update as of Feb. 21,
The Office of the University President sent Preen.ph a statement saying they are “a gender-neutral and gender-sensitive educational institution contrary to what was portrayed in [the] article.” They also emphasize that they do not tolerate discrimination and bias against the LGBTQ+ community.