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Differences Within

P.R. Manalo

In his essay In the Shadows of Stonewall: Examining Gay Transnational Politics and the
Diasporic Dilemma, Martin Manalansan looks at how, within male homosexuality, different
strands of movement, as opposed to one international movement, have occurred. Specifically,
he looks at how Filipino gays, both in and out of the country, have come to understand their
positionality with respect to the West. Because non-Western sexual practices have been viewed
not only as something that is marginalized, but also premodern or unliberated, Manalansan
proposes that such a myopic view of gay practices must be examined and changed, for such
actuations are determined not only by geographical locations, but more importantly, by national
culture, history, religion, class, and region.

The story of the coming out becomes central yet again to Manalansans essay. Generally,
the Western understanding of the act of coming out is that it is an act of emancipation,
politicization, modernization, and that key to the realization of said acts is the Stonewall. But, as
Manalansan reveals, the said event is meaningless for Filipino gays in New York, and even much
less the concern of Filipino gays in the Philippines. Manalansan argues that Filipino gays imitate
Western gay practices, and in so doing create a unique culture that is entirely their own. For
instance, Mama Rene, a Filipino gay in New York who witnessed the Stonewall event, the
supposed liberatory incident was nothing near historic. It was not the concern of a Filipino gay
like him to take to the streets and make noise. The same is true for Ron and Rodel, Filipino gays
also in New York. For them, coming out in public is not even a question, because, more often
than not, such an act involves unveiling and participating in rowdy and loud activities. This view
Manalansan interprets as the Filipinos particular take on coming out. He claims that for them,
public spaces, where Western gays celebrate their identity, are spaces of shame for the bakla.
Filipino gays are generally not as out because for them, there is really nothing to expose,
anyway. Filipinos perform gayness in a conspicuous manner, which is to say that gayness is
performed differently, usually according to race and positionality. And within the gay space,
there are also cases of discrimination, especially in terms of race and appearance, which is part of
the reason why Filipinos dont feel that they belong in the American gay community. Clearly,
positioning matters, and situated in those positions are people who have voices that speak a
different language, tell a different story, act out a different subjectivity.

Then Audrey Yue looks at how the movie So Happy Together illustrates queerness. By
bringing together diasporic Asians/Australians, the movie not only shows how queer visibility is
performed, but also how particular characters in the movie represent emergent diasporic queer
identity. Leslie, as the interface of Queer (N)Asian, takes into issue the homophobic character
of the narrative of the movie. This performance, in turn, disrupts the normative positionality
whose meaning can be found in the cultural space of the destination. Leslie essentially queers a
straight movie, and in so doing, questions the stereotype and showcases identity through self-
inscription and self-knowledge.