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Secretary John Magno's 'Just Saying'

Secretary John Magno of DepEd-ARMM

“Love yourself, whatever makes you different, and use it to make you stand out.”

That’s precisely the quote that brought me to where I am now and I have come to terms with reality and took a grip on what it is like to be different and what it means to prove my worth. 

I have seen so much of the changes that led to society’s diversity, tolerance and acceptance. I was born in the 1970s when people considered off-stream behaviour as a “malignant social disease.” Apparently, beyond the more effeminate gestures, no one really knew what being “different” really was. Whoever wasn’t straight was a homo, a deviant – no middle grounds, no compromises. The world was literally flat!

I think the new millennium changed all that.

The social fracas that made segregation a rule slowly shattered in the face of strong freedom campaigns that underscored equality and respect. The by-lines were so strong that even lightning would dim in the middle of a storm. Slowly but forcefully, the once-upon-a-time “social menaces” came out and took a stand. Quite suddenly it was all right to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a college professor and not be married. Something never heard of before in a traditionally “straight society.” The public realized that not all “unconventional” men were hair dressers and shieking. Suddenly there were the established institutions that counted gays in their ranks. Then they became more. There were dozens. The movement was more than just a fad. Slowly more came out – embracing a new culture, recognizing a significant orientation.

But many questions and issues remain. Must I conform to the traditional social norms? Must I join the emerging orientation while slide mainstream and prove my worth? 

When I set my sight on what is right and what I must do, I decided to move on with real living. I proved my worth and never ceased. They were struggling but worthwhile years. As you can imagine, I saw it all, and then some.

I am aware that I do not exist in a world where being different meant much of anything to anyone. But I watch people around me who struggle within them to come to terms with the reality that they have to deal with me – what I am and who I am. But there is never a wager for my convictions. What I believed was right will never be compromised. After all, truth is never dependent on being mainstream or otherwise. It is conscience that dictates.

How many people will stand and say that the age-old notion of being “different” is a menace to society? Surely, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being one but the wrong-ness lies in those who have petrified themselves to obsolete social realities where segregation, or even isolation, is convenient to pursue mainstream right or wrong. This generation is diluted with people in a society where a fading minority asserts to erroneously dominate “old and obsolete morality” despite the little they know of what diversity really means. The attempt to re-impose the ills of ostracism is nothing more than segregation without reason and evidence of a narrowed perspective.

No niches are made for special people in this world and neither are there created for individuals beyond this life. This lifetime is about being in a world where everybody, “different” or otherwise, wants to lead a fulfilled life. It is not about being rich, being famous, or being competitive in business are the answers to being happy. It is all about respect for human dignity and the equality principle that no one is above the other in his share of life: to breath the same air as everyone or share the same sunshine and appreciate the same sunset. This world never meant to create boxes meant to constrict our individual becoming. Life aims to tear down the walls of division that prevent everyone to live in full harmony. Life connects all of us, not necessarily in orientation and beliefs, but by the same ends for which we are in this world.

Respect and be respected. Live and let live.

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