When I was younger, calling guys ‘gay’ was very commonplace in the world of childish insults. From my earlier grade school years when I didn’t really understand what the term meant yet to my high school years when guys thought using the term as an insult was cool; ‘gay’, ‘bakla’, or ‘bading’ were heard pretty often.
Welcome to the year 2018, where LGBT movements reign supreme and more and more people are finally starting to understand why these terms should never be used as insults.
Yesterday, a Twitter exchange between singers Darren Espanto and JK Labajo went viral. I don’t really know how it all started, but at one point, JK tweeted Darren saying “gayness at its finest”, to which Darren responded with “Timing ‘no? Dinelete ng “hacker” mo yung tweet na ‘to after kang kausapin ng management. Pag nahanap mo yung hacker mo, puntahan niyo ako para malaman niyo kung sino yung totoong BAKLA.” [What great timing. Your ‘hacker’ deleted this tweet after management talked to you. Once you find your hacker, come see me, so you’ll know who the real gay guy is.]
Timing ‘no? Dinelete ng “hacker” mo yung tweet na ‘to after kang kausapin ng management. Pag nahanap mo yung hacker mo puntahan niyo ako para malaman niyo kung sino yung totoong BAKLA. @KarlosLabajo pic.twitter.com/HhVsMVhrSH
— Darren Espanto (@Espanto2001) October 22, 2018
JK has since apologized for the misunderstanding.( Apparently, his Twitter account was hacked.) And Darren has since apologized for using ‘bakla’ as a derogatory term. “I’m sorry if this has offended anyone,” Darren says in another tweet. He also explains: “I’ve been bashed with this since I was in The Voice Kids (I was 12) pero wala kayong narinig. I’m 17 now, kakapagod na rin.” […but you never heard anything from me. I’m 17 now, it gets tiring, you know.]
While some Twitter users have come to Darren’s defense saying that he has the right to be offended since he isn’t gay, other Twitter users were quick to call both of them off for using ‘gay’ and ‘bakla’ as insults in the first place. And we agree. Did you know that anti-gay names increase anxiety, depression, personal distress and a lower sense of school belonging in students, regardless of their sexual orientation? (Source: V.P. Poteat and D.L. Espelage, 2007)
We are lucky to live in a time where people are able to speak out and teach others right from wrong, and in such an instantaneous form, as well. Speaking out on social media may not always be easy, and you may second-guess yourself from time to time; but doing so can make other people more comfortable with speaking out and defending others, as well as themselves.
Whenever you have the chance to educate someone on the spot, please do not hesitate to do it. Make sure that people know that using gay terms in a derogatory way is disrespectful. Speak out. Make a difference. And let’s be more sensitive about the terms that we use on a daily basis.