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Toxic Filipino Traits: Internalized Homophobia Is Not A Joke

Toxic Filipino Traits: Internalized Homophobia Is Not A Joke

The topic of toxic Filipino culture is not new to us. Usually, generations —Millenials and Gen Z— bring this up. Earlier generations normalized these certain traits that we consider “toxic and harmful.” As if what’s been happening since the beginning of time doesn’t sound so bad.

I’ve always felt passionate about this topic. Some practices done by the people around in this country should finally be stopped and given proper attention to. I often hear phrases and statements that just make me sigh whenever I ride public transportation vehicles, shop in the mall, or attend family gatherings.

Oftentimes, people who tend to speak like this are adults. I assume it is because that’s just how they were raised by their parents or since their generation hasn’t really given a thought about these.

I have been talking against this for a long time. What I usually do when I hear them is just shut up—stay silent—as if I don’t hear anything. But I also often post or tweet about my thoughts. Just to keep people in check and make them realize things. I believe that we should put an end to this.

Thus, I decided to create this series wherein I’ll be talking about Toxic Filipino Traits. Each article will revolve around a toxic trait and I will discuss my thoughts about it.

I would just like to clarify that this is not to attack anyone. This discussion is meant to educate. If somehow, you had moments like these, you can reflect on them and change them. We can all do better—even myself. I still learn every day and commit a lot of mistakes. But I move forward and learn from them.


#2 “Sabi ko na Barbie eh” — Homophobia

Toxic Filipino Traits: Internalized Homophobia Is Not A Joke
Photo from Council of Europe

This topic remains one of the most prevalent toxic characteristics, not only of some Filipinos but also of other nationalities. In certain parts of the globe, being part of this minority still entails being ridiculed or even literally executed. In our country, however, thankfully, this doesn’t happen. At least, not openly. But LGBTQ people still experience discrimination and micro-aggressions here and there.

Since it is Pride month, I decided that this is the perfect time to write this topic in the series. This is the second one, with internalized misogyny being the first. This serves as a great follow-up, knowing that the LGBT and women are hand-in-hand when it comes to being discriminated against in our country.

The Rainbow Project defined internalized homophobia as,

Internalised homophobia and oppression happens to gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and even heterosexuals, who have learned and been taught that heterosexuality is the norm and “correct way to be.” Hearing and seeing negative depictions of LGB people can lead us to internalise, or take in, these negative messages. Some LGB people suffer from mental distress as a result.

As described, internalized homophobia is the result of having been taught that being gay is bad. This is a repetitive and continuous process that usually starts as a child. Some parents teach their children that being with a person of the same gender is not right and should not happen. Even acting feminine if you’re a boy is seen as taboo and usually results in being bullied. This can also be linked to internalized misogyny which was talked about in the other article.

For me, internalized homophobia is worse when I see it in gay people themselves. I hate it when they use the jokes to mock us as something to laugh at. An example is infamous, “Sabi ko na Barbie.” Oh, that “joke” disgusts me to the core. Especially when gay people use it.

That viral kid shouting the infamous phrase has been made fun of since its release. It is also used to out someone. When a person comes off as something out of the norm—of the standard of being “straight”—they use that phrase. Admit it or not but it is also used to mock gay people. Because even though we, as a society, already made a progress when it comes to accepting the LGBTQ community, we are still seen as a joke.

People laugh at the kid, not because he’s cute, but he’s exhibiting the characteristics of being gay. The kid is feminine, he must be gay, “Ah, Barbie, sabi ko na.”

Also, with that said, it is not your place to label someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Even if you perceive someone as feminine, it doesn’t already mean that he’s gay or non-binary. Gender is a spectrum. There are a variety of gender identities. You cannot label someone’s sexuality, just because of the way he acts as a person.

A person can be gay and also be masculine; a guy can be seen as feminine, but also be straight; a woman can be lesbian and also like makeup and wear a skirt.

Stop labeling people’s gender identities. We are more than what you ought to be. A person’s gender preference or identity should never be other’s business other than himself. He will come out if he wants to and if he identifies as something. But it should never be your job to tell if someone is gay, bi, pan, etc.

“Ah, Barbie, sabi ko na.” You know the big problem in that statement when used? A person already assumed something about the person. “He’s gay, I already thought so.” No. It. Is. Not. Your. Place. To. Assume. Someone’s. Gender. Identity. What’s worse is when people laugh after saying it. We will come back to my idea earlier—being gay is seen as a joke.

And no, being gay doesn’t excuse this behavior. Actually, it’s worse if you are part of the problem. Stop contributing to their narrative that your identity is funny. That being seen as gay should be laughed at. That a person can be labeled just because of an assumption. We already receive a ton of stereotypes just because of how we identify.


There’s another point that I want to touch. I always remember hearing people, specifically parents, say that a child should not be exposed to homosexual behavior. The usual reason why is that they think that it can result in their sexuality being converted. They think that if a young boy sees two guys romantically involved can result in him being gay. This is obviously not the case.

A simple explanation that other people should hear is this: gay people have been taught that what they are is bad. We have seen countless heterosexual activities in the media and in day-to-day activities. We, gay people, have been raised in a society that views straight people as the norm. “You should strive to be like them,” they say. But that didn’t make us straight, did it?

Being exposed to gay culture doesn’t make a straight person gay. Just like how gay people being exposed to heteronormative acts (ever since they were a child) don’t make them straight.


It is Pride month. ‘Tis the season when we are celebrated. But is not only a celebration. It is a protest. Because even though we have already accomplished so much, there is still a lot that we continue to be deprived of. Straight people still think that when we strive for equality, to have the rights they have that we don’t, is still asking for too much.

No, we aren’t asking for much. We just want what you have—to be recognized and accepted. All we ask is to feel safe in the community that we live in. What we ask for is not a privilege, but equality. We want to have access to things that you have that we don’t have access to.

Want an example? Ok. Gay people still have no right to be considered qualified person to sign papers when his or her partner get hospitalized. We have no visitation rights when our partner gets delivered to the intensive care unit or ICU. Just imagine the agony of not having the right to be with the one you love in his time of need. Of not being recognized as a “qualified” person to be at his side.

I don’t think that’s asking for too much. That’s just basic human rights. I will repeat, we don’t want to be above you by asking for equality. We just want to be considered “human”—who loves, who cares, who wants to be with the one we love.


I can go on and on about this topic. It is about us, after all. But this won’t have any bearing if you don’t keep an open mind. We should homophobia, not because it is the right thing to do, it makes you guilty, or just for us to shut up. End it because you know the feeling of being deprived of something. That’s what we experience our whole lives.

End it because you know how to express yourself without the fear of being ridiculed and shamed. That’s what we cannot do. End it because you can love whoever your heart desires. We are judged because of that. Why do we receive hate? When all we want is to love freely and be ourselves.

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