Considering that the LGBTQ+ community still has miles to go in realizing change, the last thing we need are micro-aggressions that only take the community’s struggle many steps back.
During the November 9 episode of the noontime variety show It’s Showtime, the show invited over Ian Pangilinan and Paolo Pangilinan, the lead artists of the BL romance web series Gaya sa Pelikula as guests for their Mas Testing segment. The goal is for the player – the tumpak tracer – to guess which of the two guests – the “persons under tracing” – fit a given attribute better.
During the segment, host Vice Ganda asked “sinong mas straight?” to the player, Comedian MC, who guessed that it was Paolo.
After meandering with the purposely vague query, Vice Ganda revealed that the complete question was “sino ang mas malapit sa member ng is-Straight Boys?”, a witty jab to the 90s boy group which Showtime hosts Jhong Hilario and Vhong Navarro were once a part of. However, some audiences – advocates of SOGIE education and members of the LGBTQ+ community – were already thrown off.
And it isn’t just that question that threw them off – it’s all of the questions, both said and unsaid.
At first, it would seem that members of the community were incensed over the question, “sinong mas straight?” because it turns a person’s sexuality, something that’s supposed to be private and personal, into a guessing game. The host implied that attributes such as “straightness” can be judged or measured, and therefore assumed they have as much right to mull on it as the person in question does – even though they don’t.
But the hosts didn’t mean it the way people took it, so the latter shouldn’t take it so seriously, right? We wish it were that easy, but that’s exactly how micro-aggressions play out. These remarks are meant to sound subtle, unconscious, oblivious to the fact that they are cruelly stereotyping a group of people.
“Sinong mas tigasin sa inyo?”
“Sino ‘yung boy and girl sa inyong dalawa?”
“Pero hindi halatang bakla ka.”
Countless other remarks towards members of the LGBTQ+ community have all sounded naive of how they might make the other end feel uneasy, out of place, or even unsafe. It implies that these people are one-dimensional, and are solely defined by their gender performances.
And in a platform as vast as the show’s as well as its host’s, It’s Showtime ought to have weighed in on what asking such questions might subtly and slowly normalize in our country. You know, considering this is the country where celebrities are pushed out of the closet out of cheap revelations, and overtly gay artists are usually given the “comic relief” roles.
And it didn’t help that Vice Ganda steered the micro-aggression to make it about something else, too. Wit and humor won’t always cover up what the hosts – one of which is a stalwart member of the LGBTQ+ community of all people – already cut open.
Micro-aggressive questions shouldn’t substitute SOGIE education.