Social media is fucking toxic. And, of course, celebrities usually bear the brunt of it. As they live their lives in the limelight, they remain a target of harsh comments about themselves. This would include the way they look and the way they act. Unfortunately, I have also observed child stars or children of stars becoming a victim to this. Young female stars would be called ‘hot’ and ‘sexy,’ even when they are as young as thirteen years old. Young male stars, on the other hand, would be labeled ‘gay’ due to having a higher pitch voice or being close with their mothers.
And, I’m going to say this now: It’s disappointing to see how Filipinos treat child stars – especially, on social media
For the longest of time, the way Bimby Aquino acted became a meme on social media.
A lot of Filipinos called him gay because of the way he speaks and the way he seemed so close with his mother, Kris. Although Bimby had already reiterated his sexual orientation and addressed the homophobia directed at him, the ridicule never seemed to stop. Even at the young age of fourteen years old, he already has a deep understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Regardless of the countless rumors about his gender, he does not take being called gay as an insult. He also pointed out how wrong it is for people to make ‘gay’ a derogatory insult.
“I’ll set the record straight. I’m straight. I like women. I don’t like boys… They’re entitled to their own opinion on what they think about me as long as you don’t attack me. If you’re saying, ‘’I think Bimb’s gay,’ I’ll respect that. I’ll say, ‘No, I’m not gay.’ If you say, ‘Beki si Bimb, kadiri!’ (Bimb’s gay, yuck!) That’s wrong.”
I remembered Kris Aquino posting about this on her social media and I wanted to paraphrase it for a bigger impact. Even when Bimby is the repeated target of this bullying, it only reflects how a lot of Filipinos still have homophobic attitudes – which is no longer welcome in 2021. And, she is completely right. It is 2021. The current generation that thrives now is dubbed as the most accepting generation so far. Even with LGBTQ+ people starting to have a proper representation in the media, homophobia still does happen. And, the bullying targeted to Bimby just shows it off even more.
Just like Bimby, Darren Espanto was targeted with the same kind of bullying. Mainly due to his ability to sing in a higher pitch.
We all know how Darren became famous. He could sing in a higher pitch and he could whistle just as well as Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey. And, just because of that, a lot of Filipinos labeled him as gay. Aside from that, he also remained a little soft and delicate – especially because he’s young. Now, that he’s all grown up, this kind of targeted bullying continues to plague social media. Sharing an article from Interaksyon, a Facebook user added a particular caption that referred to these rumors. Sure, it’s just a joke. But being LGBTQ+ is not a joke nor it should continue to be.
And, let me just say this now, if you think a kid is part of the LGBTQ+ community, don’t rush them into coming out of the closet. Finally being okay with their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is a whole process that you should never rush. Let them go at their own pace. And, let them come out of the closet if they want to. It’s okay to be lesbian or gay or bisexual or trans or queer or ace. As long as they’re not hurting anybody and stepping on someone’s toes, why should you stop them from being their most authentic self?
As of this writing, Sofia Pablo is just fifteen years old. And, yet adult men have called her ‘sexy,’ even as young as thirteen years old.
It’s normal to say that this kid is beautiful and absolutely talented. Because it’s true. She is gorgeous and she has such a bright future ahead of her. However, as a young girl, she has already been sexualized and objectified just because she wore a sleeveless shirt and a pair of shorts. And, because of the weather here in the Philippines, we do see her posting those outfits on social media. Although that’s the case, it is never okay for a person – especially, an adult man at that – to call her sexy and hot. We shouldn’t even be talking about what she wore, just the attitude of those people on social media.
Just because I used Bimby, Darren, and Sofia as examples, it does not mean that this kind of treatment stopped with them. A lot of other child stars experience this kind of treatment – a treatment that a lot of Filipinos should stop. It’s not healthy for these children to grow up doubting and feeling insecure about themselves. Sure, they are working in the entertainment industry where comparison grows rampant. But, it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to stop them from doing so. They’re just kids.
I don’t know when it has ever been okay for people to negatively comment on a child’s body and on a child’s potential sexuality. Despite the fact that it is 2021 and we have continued to fight against these kind of things on social media, it still happens quite a lot. So, if you see someone doing this, you should do everything in your power to stop them. Because, at this point, no child should ever receive this kind of treatment – especially from a grown adult.
Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.