This is a page from Uncanny Avengers which spurred debate and controversy regarding identity and minorities. As UP celebrates its Pride Week, I just think it’s appropriate to talk about it.
Do the labels people attach to us define us or reduce us to a particular dimension of our identity? There are people who think so. And they hate it.
I understand. They are treated differently as they seem more to people as “gay”, “alien” or “promdi” more than an equal. That is the fundamental problem: how society divides us and prevents us from seeing our common struggles, our potential for unity.
But some of these people, in trying to avoid confrontation or alienation from the lot, deny or keep these “labels” under the rug. They hide the fact that they’re gay, or from outside Manila, or from a poor family, or Muslim, or Christian. That’s also understandable. Society has made it hard for them to identify with what makes them different from society’s favorite class: in our country’s case, the middle-class, heterosexual, fair-skinned Christian from Luzon.
We want to be liberated: to determine our own place in society, without regard for our role as the underprivileged. We want to be treated as merely “human,” not as anything else. The truth, however, is that while we are not less than human, we are more it. We are also our sex and gender. We are also our economic class. We are our provincial origin. We are our skin color. We are our religion.
The liberal, secular, capitalist culture wants us to deny ourselves these characteristics and focus on “our similarities.” But by “similarities,” it means only the things which can be quantified: the things it can profit from. It claims to “liberate” us, but it only wants us to deny the reality of our struggle, the importance of our differences and the avenue for real conversations among people.
Such is the importance of “pride”: the acknowledgement and celebration of difference is the first step towards a real community of people living together in acceptance and progress.
So do not be afraid to be called “gay” or “poor” or “Muslim.” Do not be afraid of being the minority. Embrace it. Identify with the people you belong to. It is the reason why the status quo persists: because they take pride in who they are and expect others to bow to their superiority. No more. It stops now.
The only true path to unity and solidarity is to recognize our differences, which define our interests and experiences. It is the only way a particular class can own up to its mistakes, and for the impoverished to fiercely assert and demand justice.