This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.
In the third season of the Netflix series Narcos, Helmer “Pacho” Herrera, one of the four kingpins of the Cali drug cartel, dances seductively with another man in full view of a crowd of presumably heterosexual men and women, who watch them mutely, their expressions registering disgust, shock, fear, and trepidation as Pacho draws his dance partner closer and kisses him. But no one says a word or looks away, including one associate who had fallen out with him.
When the dance ends, Pacho walks towards his associate with calm menace and breaks a bottle over his head. Soon after that, the associate is begging for his life as his limbs are tied to separate Harley-Davidsons raring to roar off in opposite directions, effectively dismembering him in a gruesome manner, almost medieval in style, save for the motorbikes.
The fact that Pacho Herrera was gay was well-known. That he was a particularly violent, murderous psychopath was common knowledge, too. Which just goes to show that his sexual orientation was neither a strength nor a weakness with regard to his criminal activities; it was merely a fact, a fact he liked to flaunt openly.
Perhaps he killed with ruthless relish to prove that he could roll with the big boys despite his father disowning him for being gay. At a time—this was the ’90s—when a man digging the dudes was still not widely accepted in an overwhelmingly macho society, Pacho’s sexual proclivities were irrelevant to Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orijuela, the cartel bosses. And indeed, it would seem, it didn’t make him any less of a man in their eyes, if being a man meant going about the cocaine business with cold, calculated precision, maximizing control of the trade as well as reaping the obscene profits, and eliminating when necessary, drawing or quartering or strafing with bullets, any obstacle in the way.
When it comes to the shabu (crystal meth) business, however, it would appear, based on the latest performance in the circus otherwise known as the Philippine Congress, merely trying to ferret out the truth has men who wear their machismo with misplaced pride losing their collective balls, effectively and willingly castrating themselves to curry favor with the president, by his own admission a drug addict, thanks to his dependence on fentanyl, and his smirking, arrogant son, the Vice Mayor of Davao City, an alleged former addict with alleged ties to billion-peso shipments of shabu coming into the country.
It is a bittersweet irony, then, to hear the Vice Mayor’s lawyer ask if the only Senator with balls in the Senate, were gay, simply because he suggested to his client to remove his shirt and show his tattoo.
“Why does he want to see my client’s tattoo? Is he gay? If he’s gay, I may have allowed him to see it,” the lawyer told reporters after the hearing.
For a lawyer who also claimed in the same breath that his stock in trade was truth, not propaganda, his reaction was shockingly short on fact and logic and remarkably abundant in hysteria and stupidity, not to mention prejudice. A man asking to see another man’s back within the context of an official Senate hearing in order to ascertain whether his tattoo is consistent with those of triad members involved in the drug trade, according to information provided by the US Drug Enforcement Agency, does not make a man gay.
But questioning why a senator investigating the alarmingly serious issue at hand and seeking to establish, if any, an unassailable link between the president’s son and shabu shipments from China would make such a request makes the lawyer an idiot.
“Gay” as bandied about by the lawyer, with, presumably, the tacit approval of his client, was clearly intended as a slur, an attempt to discredit the Senator’s efforts to probe—yes, probe—for the truth. Because this is a society that still believes in that outmoded ridiculous trope, that being gay makes a man weak and therefore less worthy of trust, less worthy of respect, less worthy of serious attention. That being gay makes a man less capable of bravery or honor when at those crucial moments when one’s manhood is tested. Therefore being gay makes a man less of a man.
The lawyer further insulted not just the Senator, but all gay men by suggesting that he would grant the Senator’s request to see the tattoo if he were actually gay. As if all gay men live for a glimpse of another man’s naked back, tattooed or not. Like many of his ilk, unenlightened, grandstanding, entitled yet deep down threatened and insecure men, he reduced all gay men to caricature, easily distracted by titillation, and whose essence can be merely summed up by one thing: their preference for d*ck over p*ssy.
Flaunting the gay card, reckless as it was, also served another purpose: to establish Paolo Duterte—and by extension his father—as the only alpha male that mattered in the Senate that day, Trillanes’ evidence be damned. And the younger Duterte’s contemptuous demeanor confirmed his belief in his own self-importance, that he was above everyone and everything, including prosecution. He knew all the other men in the room were limp d*cks with no balls who would wrestle each other for the honor to lick his father’s ass. Except for one Senator.
And yet, when given the opportunity to refute the Senator’s allegations, he declined, hiding conveniently behind the skirts of self-incrimination and the right to privacy.
So who’s really the man here and who is the coward?
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Lara Intong
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