Saturday, February 14, 2015

Color diversity

AGE hardens the lens in my eyes, reducing the world now to a fuzzy swirl of amateurish strokes of watercolor.

But out the night before Valentine’s Day, I didn’t have to switch between my two pairs of eyeglasses to notice that the popular notion of love hasn’t changed much.

Electric Crimson and Lava may have edged out the more maidenly shades of Rose and Blushing Pink, but malls, awash in different hues of passion, pulled out the stops in pushing everything from flowers to fantasies.

To do so, they used the time-tested formula: a man and a woman, Adam and Eve, Romeo and Juliet, Kathniel ad nauseam.

Wandering in the mall, I noticed that the popular depiction of romance did not always connect with reality. Among the couples walking hand-in-hand were partners that were both female.

Sticking out in a sea of office girls going home with a long-stemmed beauty was an ecstatic fellow proudly bearing a bouquet of exotic blooms. His expression declared that he had just received, not delivered, the flowers.

Isn’t it time for merchandisers to tweak Valentine’s Day with its traditional bias for heteronormativity?

In this view, gender is fixed at birth. Born a man; desire a woman. Born a woman; serve a man. The normal is limited to this binary: an exclusive society of two, permitting only two kinds of identity, two kinds of sexuality.

To be any different is to be queer and deformed.

Since enterprise is a great motivator for change, I hope the “juggernauts of secular and commercial culture” will rethink their packaging of next year’s Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to be heterosexual to desire the company of a loved one, the unflagging stamina of the serially monogamous.

More than a commercial eroticization, Valentine’s Day is a good barometer of social values. If we cannot depict through mass media the couples that fall beyond the orbit of heteronormal, how can we understand and accept them?

LGBTIQ represents the realities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning persons.

A transgender or “trans” person identifies with a gender that is different from his or her biological one. Born with male and female genitals requiring reconstruction, an intersexed person may later choose a gender different from the manufactured one. Individuals seeking a sexual orientation may choose the questioning gender.

Yet, instead of labeling, one should ask a person how he or she describes himself or herself and use this self-chosen definition and corresponding pronoun.

We can take our cue in gender sensitivity from Mandaue City, which passed on first reading last Feb. 11 an LGBTIQ Code. Last Jan. 22, Barangay Subangdaku in Mandaue unveiled a multihued pedestrian lane. Sun.Star Cebu’s Rebelander S. Basilan reported that muralist A. G. SaƱo suggested the rainbow lanes as a statement for acceptance of and respect for LGBTIQ rights.

Since the 1970s, a rainbow of eight colors distinguishes the LGBTIQ pride flag.

San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, after being challenged by gay politician and activist Harvey Milk, placed at the top of the gay pride flag the color pink (for sexuality). Once used by the Nazis to label and persecute homosexuals, pink today blends with seven other colors to represent the diversity in the LGBTIQ community.

Colors can augur change.

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*First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s February 15, 2015 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”

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