What we can learn from Kris and Bimby

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Though our culture appears to be very accepting of LGBTs, there is still a lot of stigma against homosexuality and LGBTs in general, as evidenced in the recent issue involving Bimby Aquino-Yap's sexuality. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — As our world becomes increasingly social, it’s easy to mistake celebrities’ candor online as an open invitation to question and judge them, and as many people do, to comment on their lives. Though rumors on celebrities abound, social media seems to give people more material to work with and a bigger platform to voice out their opinions. The anonymity that some sites provide even gives some people the confidence to confront celebrities on things they would otherwise be too afraid to bring up in real life.

Unfortunately, the internet spares no one from its scrutiny, not even kids, and Kris Aquino’s youngest son, Bimby, has been the subject of many harsh comments and memes, especially with regards to his sexuality. In 2015, Kris posted an Instagram video featuring Bimby greeting his “The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin” co-star, Alex Gonzaga, a happy birthday. One comment read “toyab,” which, when read backwards reads “bayot,” a Bisaya slur for gay. On another post in 2017, a follower sent a comment calling Bimby “gay.”

In both instances, the star made headlines for defending her son. But most recently, the pair have made headlines for Bimby’s own surprisingly mature and insightful words. In a segment on a home tour video for Kris’s YouTube channel, The Aquinos, Kris talks about how difficult it is for her kids to be in the spotlight.

"People think I'm a homosexual ... Why would you judge a child? Don't judge a child," says Bimby in the video. When Kris says “Don’t judge a child and don’t make decisions for the child,” Bimby follows up with "It's because we're still learning for ourselves and puberty hasn't struck for me yet," he added. A few days later, screenshots of the moment made rounds on Twitter and Facebook, with people commending the two.

When Bimby asks why anyone would judge a child, his words don’t just challenge the culture of feeling entitled to the private lives of celebrities, but also the ways in which we feel entitled to define other people’s choices based on our prejudices.

 

Bimby’s words seem to have resonated with many people for a lot of reasons. Rumors about the sexualities of celebrities have always existed. It’s become something of a pastime for audiences to debate over whether this or that artista is gay. For most, assumptions are made solely on appearances — the way they dress, the way they act, the things they’re interested in.

In Bimby’s case, much like many other male celebrities, he’s questioned for his softness and his sensitivity, yet neither of these factors define a homosexual, nor are they inherently good or bad. In truth, they are stereotypes, and imposing these stereotypes on anyone, gay or straight, borders on homophobia. When Bimby asks why anyone would judge a child, his words don’t just challenge the culture of feeling entitled to the private lives of celebrities, but also the ways in which we feel entitled to define other people’s choices based on our prejudices.

There’s something groundbreaking in Kris and Bimby’s statements too, especially as Bimby says “We’re still learning for ourselves.” It’s a kind of a “So what?” to the possibilities of his eventual sexuality — something that he and he alone should be concerned with, and something that his own mother doesn’t seem to be too bothered about either.

Though our culture appears to be very accepting of LGBTs (some of the biggest stars today are gay — Vice Ganda, Boy Abunda, Awra Briguela), there is still a lot of stigma against homosexuality and LGBTs in general. Yet prejudices are rarely overtly expressed, as we as a people aren’t very confrontational. What results is a strong dissonance between what people seem to be and what they really are. Unfortunately, a lot of the prejudice and homophobia is expressed online through social media, with people hiding behind the safety of their screens. Perhaps if more people spoke up the way Kris and Bimby did, we’d make bigger strides towards acceptance.