Appropriating homosexuality

Isabelle Daza, Georgina Wilson

So this picture of Isabelle Daza and Georgina Wilson kissing in support of gay rights is making the rounds of the Internet today. I can predict what people are saying about it, and don’t care to post them here. Instead, I will direct you to Rappler.

I strongly support gay rights, and I applaud fellow supporters. However, I feel that this particular effort is misguided. I get that they are trying to show that there is absolutely nothing wrong with homosexual relationships. No one is going to miss that message. The problem I see here, however, is that neither woman is homosexual.

The boyfriend of a friend of mine asked me if I would find it problematic if interracial people were shown kissing in a picture even though they’re not in a relationship. Of course I wouldn’t. They are representing the fact of interracial relationships and are, in fact, interracial. Daza and Wilson’s photograph is of two heterosexual women kissing, pretending to be homosexual, and is clearly geared to generate controversy. Of course, the issue of homosexuality is always controversial here in the Philippines, but whether this was their intention or not, this also seems engineered to feed the male fantasy of seeing women together in romantic or sexual situations. Even though normalizing homosexual relationships may have been the goal of this picture, it appears to aim to do so by making people think that, “Hey yeah, this does look hot,” and I don’t think homosexuals are seeking that kind of validation from heterosexuals. In addition, appropriation of homosexuality by heterosexuals is never a good thing; just think back on Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed a Girl.”

Some people have also commented on the incestuous aspect of the picture, given that Daza and Wilson are cousins. Others have told the former to lighten up, they’re just kissing, don’t you kiss your relatives? I’d have to agree with the critics, however. This kiss suggests passion, perhaps even mild lust. If you were to kiss your relatives, you most certainly would not be kissing them in that manner–partially open mouth, half-closed eyes do not suggest a wholesome peck.

Overall, I’ll say that Daza and Wilson had good intentions. If there’s something that this picture can accomplish, it’s to make people rethink their ideas of what a lesbian looks like, as many of us remain trapped in the idea that lesbians generally want to look like men. But people don’t really need to pretend to be gay to support gay rights. 1

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I was suddenly put in mind of my admiration for the new GMA 7 soap opera, My Husband’s Lover, which is the story of a woman whose husband is gay and is having a relationship with his best friend. Is that, therefore, also appropriation of homosexuality? I could say yes, but then again, this is acting for an actual story. In addition, it might be the best thing we could hope for at present, because Philippine showbiz lacks gay actors who are considered bankable leads and can be considered to fit the traditionally “male hetero” or cis male look; Vice Ganda does not count despite his slew of hit movies and concerts because he has adopted traditionally feminine looks. Now if we have any out gay actors who could have been considered for the roles of Eric and Vincent but were not, then we have a problem. Philippine showbiz and culture in general still has a hard time digesting the fact that not all gay people look as we have been conditioned to expect them to look.

  1. I welcome comments from any member of the LGBT community. Please let me know if I’m overreacting and if I’m just getting overly offended in your behalf.

June 28, 2013 by Lynn
Filed under: Hmm | 2 comments

comments (2)

  1. I am all for supporting gay rights. But I find this photo disturbing for the same reasons that you cited here. By the way, I love the footnote-like feature of your blog! :)

    • You should get it! It’s a cool feature.

      Anyway, yeah, I get that people are cheering the pic because we should be “open-minded” and all. But there’s open-minded and there’s misguided support.

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