Arguing with Myself: Of Being Gay and Being Effeminate

Gay—this is just one of the many words that Filipinos are misinformed of. For many Filipinos, the word gay only refers to males who talk, act, and dress like a female: a transgender, a transvestite, a crossdresser, or whatever other words you opt to use to describe them. What they do not know is that gay can also be applied to women.

Gay does not refer to a man who talks, dresses, acts, and thinks like a girl; that is not the right definition of the word. If you have doubts, you can check the dictionary. The word gay, when applied in certain social context, means “of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex.” Yes, this is the very reason why even girls can be called gay—lesbians are gay people too. If one is sexually attracted to the same sex, he or she is essentially gay. Essentially, gay is much of a euphemism to homosexuality (but I must admit that this commonly used to refer to male homosexuals).

The word that, perhaps, most Filipinos mean is effeminate, which is, “having feminine qualities untypical of a man : not manly in appearance or manner.” One can be effeminate but not gay; one can be gay, but not effeminate. One can be both. There are gay men who act in a more masculine manner than straight ones, and there are straight men who act in a rather effeminate manner than gay ones. (There are several reasons behind this, which I cannot answer for themselves.)

It is just disappointing that even members of LGBT community are not aware of this. I came across an LGBT awareness campaign in Ayala Center Cebu just recently and overheard one of the advocates classifying their male members into discreet (not obviously gay) and gay (obviously gay, that is). Seriously, it’s either discreet or flamboyant—both are gay!

Now, why am I writing about this? Simply because that is not the right definition of the word. Asking a homosexual male if he is gay (in contrast to being “discreet”) is like asking a poodle if it is a dog, asking a sparrow if it is a bird, asking a koi if it a fish. And also, the LGBT community should make an awareness issue about this, because I cannot stand any misinformation about a word and an erroneous word usage.

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